over at Jim's Blog, Lori wrestles with her struggle to figure out the Jesus of conventional faith, asking, "Why do I self medicate when my emotional pain is unbearable? Shouldn’t I be strong enough? I have JESUS!!! Nothing is impossible with JESUS!!!"
Religious people tend to say that "Jesus" will fill in those big empty holes in us. As if they think that the word JESUS is spackle for the soul and maybe church is the bandaid that holds the spackle in place.
For most of us, or all of us, it does not work like that. Most of us don't wake up one morning, discover this Jesus-figure in our heart, and suddenly find our life laid out in a near-perfect rhythm of bible reading, church attendance and true inner peace.
What is the saying? "Nature abhors a vacuum?" Those holes in our soul are a vacuum. We spend our lives trying to fill them, whether with rage, or helplessness, or self-injury or self-harm or promiscuity or whatever toxic, empty, dark actions or attitudes offer temporary respite from an ongoing awareness of our own emptiness.
It's not until we begin figuring out how to heal ourselves that our holes transform into a less destructive presence. I agree with Jim that healing begins with an awareness of our own value. Scream the word JESUS all you want—but the word itself is not a talisman. Nor is church, nor is the bible.
The magic of healing begins when a person recognizes the hole, then makes peace with its presence. At that point, peace begins soothing, covering, protecting, the dangling nerve endings, dripping capillaries, and torn flesh at the hole's raw edges.
Church and bible-reading and Jesus can play a huge role in this process when they reflect an awareness of humanity's significance in God's grand plan. But—and this is the part that most church-based faith doesn't seem to recognize—healing is a process, not an act. If we push the idea that JESUS will fix everything for us, we short-change our hurting brothers and sisters and neighbors out of the one thing that the Jesus story really provides: A sense that, as individuals, we matter. We matter so much that God created the story upon which Christianity is founded—that God sent his child to die a painful death for the benefit of individual humans.
To Lori, to myself, to you, I offer this: Be brave enough to heal yourself. If you want to bring Jesus into the mix, do it because of what you believe Jesus did for you, and allow your healing journey to be about you and your journey rather than about whether you and your faith in the word "Jesus" are good enough.
For many of us, filling the hole will be a lifelong process. It may never be filled. But we can learn to live peacefully in its presence. And that's pretty good healing.