Chronic Illness · Chronic Pain · Grad School · Mayo Clinic · Mental Health · Personal · Recovery · Religious

What is Healing, Anyway?

What do you think of when you hear the word “heal”? In general, I usually think of a process of moving from one thing to another, an un-something to a something. This blog, “Illness to Wellness,” got its name from that process that many go through at least once at some point in their life.

What do I think of when I heard the word “heal,” on a more personal level? I think of the miracles that God worked in my time at Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Center, and the miracles that God continues to work in my life to this day. Now, here’s where things get complicated: healing isn’t a binary where you’re either healed or not. In some of the traditional ways, I’m healed; in some, I’m not at all; in some, I’m on my way and likely will always be, ever coming closer to an unreachable ideal (and at times, sinking back and again finding my way forward because healing isn’t linear, anyway).

heal: verb \ˈhēl\

  1. to make sound or whole

  2. to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome

  3. to restore to original purity or integrity – Merriam-Webster

Healing comes in many forms, not just physical. Not just an all-or-nothing “healed” or “not healed,” or, to borrow some of the words from above, overcome or not overcome. In fact, you might miss all signs of healing if you only look for that. Though my diagnoses are challenging and at times disabling, they are not life-threatening. If someone’s illness(es) are not healed and may progress or in fact end their life, is there no possibility for healing in their mind and soul, even as they face physical downfall?

It can come anywhere, any time, and in any form. Mine came in the form of Jesus Christ, a renewed spirit, two trips to the Mayo Clinic, family, friends, friends that became family, learning how to live my life despite my body’s very real limitations, and moving closer to new dreams. And it comes to this day.


[image description: a freshly-inked tattoo on my right hip that is an arrow 3″ long that has on top of it the word “arise” in a combination of my handwriting and the tattoo artist’s].
Why the word “arise”? Because this story from the Gospel of Mark nearly knocked me out of my own skin one day when I read it because it could have been written about me.

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. (Mark 5:35-42, ESV, emphases mine)

Am I cured of the debilitating chronic pain that brought me to Mayo in the first place? No.
Is there a medicine that fixes it? There are a few that alleviate it, but no.
Do I have difficult days still? Yes.
Would I take a different body if I were offered one? Without a doubt in my mind.

And yet, I am healed. I’ve arisen, and I will continue to arise. And the reminder of the ongoing miracle of this healing is now etched on my right hip to help me rise to the challenges of my life, body, and story in moments when I don’t feel quite as miraculous.

[image description: The word “gratitude” written in my cursive handwriting on a white piece of paper].
I started writing about my journey of healing and recovery a while back, when I had just come back from Mayo in August and as I was heading to grad school just a few short weeks later in September. I pray it’s an encouragement to you as you seek healing in whatever you face, whether there is a semblance of physical healing on the horizon or not. After all, you just may find something deeper in the waiting and in the at-times glorious mess of reality that faces you instead.

“Arise, your light is come!
The mountains burst in song!
Rise up like eagles on the wing;
God’s power will make us strong.” – The hymn “Arise Your Light Is Come” written by Ruth Duck

5 thoughts on “What is Healing, Anyway?

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