Talks God, Talks Relationships

Mothers, Illness and Healing Prayer

It’s raining today…nice, soft summer rain

I miss my yard…

One of my favorite times of the year is August when the rain comes to pre water the ground before winter hits it hard. All of the summer plants that you divided, bought and nurtured are deeply watered in preparation for their deep freeze. It’s cooler and humid but I don’t care. My windows are open and I can hear it falling.

I love rain

It also signals a transition from summer to fall, something many in the mid-west adore. I like fall well enough, the crisper air, pumpkin everything, apples galore and vivid colors everywhere. The last glorious hurrah of nature before the leaves drop and life looks barren for months or until the first snowfall. Life itself is one transition after another. Exciting and challenging, never dull.

Boredom has it’s merits

I could use a bit of boredom right now. It’s been an enormous year of transitions for me. New city, new apartment, new people (especially Puerto Ricans), new responsibilities, new doctors, new knee, new routines and especially new driving habits. Lots of news…I’m pooped.

At least Maggy still itches

And while we’ve felt wonderfully embraced by our community, neighbors, church, young adults (in spite of our age) we’re beginning to hear the kinds of things you don’t imagine you’ll ever hear in life. Such as,

(young adult to Bruce), “We’re so glad you guys are serving here, we don’t have any elders in our lives”

or

(anesthesiologist to me) “If you were my own mother I’d recommend having an epidural for this procedure” (I’m not old enough to be your own mother–or wait, maybe I am)

or

(me at hipster eye doctors office) “That’s my generation’s music”, reply “Yes, I thought we needed something more ‘chill’ today”…(when has 70’s Mowtown ever been chill?!)

I need a vacation from all this transformation

One area of our world that has me feeling like the cranky uncle at a family picnic is the area of supernatural healing. We’ve had reports of it happening to various people. It’s not something the church is over focusing on but it’s certainly something they embrace and celebrate. And with good reason! Anything miraculous is worthy of celebration. God can do and does do the miraculous. Why shouldn’t we celebrate it?!

I cringe

My own experience with supernatural healing dates back to my upbringing and my parents. It’s a difficult tale, and unfortunately it left me with a distaste for the entire idea of praying for the sick. I tell it only because I’m sure there are others who’ve also experienced the flip side of this ‘miraculous healing teaching’. I hope that it helps bring a bit of comfort and light to any who have a shared experience.

In a nutshell, my mother was ill and she went forward for prayer from the elders of the church according to James 5:14-15. In that era what was known about her illness was limited. She suffered a painful and debilitating operation. It robbed her of her singing voice and a baby daughter that she delivered stillborn. It was a nasty disease and her doctors were urging treatment that she was either fearful of or just didn’t want so she went forward for the oil and prayer treatment. When she didn’t get better she was told “It hasn’t been long enough” so she carried on.

Through the years of refusing treatment she experienced what I consider an entire breakdown. Uncontrolled rages, hysteria, panic attacks, agoraphobia, depression and even abuse. All of these symptoms/behaviors were at one time or another presented for prayer and never resolved. By “faith” she had more children (which her doctors told her not to do). It was difficult, each birth came with varying complications until the 4th (and last) one which was full term and entirely healthy. As these children grew she conquered her agoraphobia and became more functional though the rages, panic attacks and hysteria never entirely went away. From her perspective she was healed and claimed it as a spiritual victory.

I opened up this can of worms to my insightful husband on Sunday. It’s not something I ever wanted to revisit but with the happenings at church I’ve felt a tug that I needed to explore my avoidance of healing ministries. So we talked and as my chronological story unfolded he stated,

“What I’m hearing is that because of spiritual immaturity on your parents part and legalistic doctrine on the church’s you were robbed of a functional mother”

I’m still in tears

He nailed it. I was robbed of a functional mother. I’m not alone in this arena. So many women I meet have “mother issues”. For decades I couldn’t figure out how I was suppose to cope with my own and admittedly, I didn’t always do it well. Through the years I’ve been able to understand, forgive and set rigid boundaries on her behavior so that I can live free of the illness that still continues to afflict her. I love my mother deeply, and I miss her, but I will not allow her illness to afflict my or my family’s lives.

Being a mother is a complicated business, any mother will tell you so! Looking back I now see areas of my own mothering that were guided by unknown and deeply rooted fears. It’s messy…I pray my own daughters will extend grace and forgiveness to me as they discover areas where my mothering was inadequate. One of the unexpected blessings of being connected to young adults in our church is the gift of “mothering the nations”. I feel privileged to extend the arms and encouragement every one of us needs from a mother’s heart.

It sheds a lot of light on why I don’t get excited about prayer for the sick. I’ve always subscribed to the “If God wants to heal me he knows where to find me” method of praying for illness. I’m sensing that a transformation from that thought process is in the works….

But it will have to wait until AFTER vacation!

 

 

 

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