Years ago, a friend of mine from Colorado went backpacking with his new wife in early summer. They were buying some last-minute supplies and the guy at the store asked if they wanted to rent snowshoes, too. “Uh, no,” my friend thought to himself, “It’s summer. Why would I need snowshoes?”
Turns out, that was a mistake. The salesman knew what they didn’t: there was an early summer storm coming. My friend and his wife ended up slogging for hours through snowdrifts up to their waists.
Something similar happens to many people who want to grow in sexual or relational integrity. They start the journey with zeal because of a pain point in their lives, but they’re not ready for some of the terrain they’ll encounter, so they end up calling it quits and giving up.
God wants better for you. If you’re on a journey to healing, here are three pieces of equipment I think you’ll need:
- A guide. You wouldn’t try to climb a mountain without a trail and you wouldn’t try to navigate a new city without a map of some kind. So why is it that when it comes to healing the inner landscape of our lives, so many of us try to trek out on our own?
Even though it’s our life—or maybe because it’s our life—we’re often too close to the situation to see our way clearly. In my own journey, I’ve found repeatedly that I’ve walked right by really important aspects of my life—like wounds, dysfunction, abuses, bitterness, and agreements—because they were so familiar to me I didn’t recognize that they were problematic. This happens to all of us. You need a skilled therapist, spiritual coach, or mentor to help you notice those parts of your story that you wouldn’t otherwise notice, and then to help you learn what to do with what you discover.
- Time. There’s no way around this one. Healing and growth take time. It makes sense that we’d want to progress quickly. After all, we’re in pain, we’re causing pain, we have important responsibilities or important aspirations. I know when I started my own recovery journey, I’m pretty sure I told the guy who was leading me, “I want to take care of this struggle as quickly as I can because I’ve got work to do for the Lord.” (Little did I know the work the Lord had for me to do!)
Those who try to rush recovery or hurry through healing usually do neither. There is no microwave approach to growing up. It takes time. For most of us, we’d like to think the job at hand is like straightening up a room, but overcoming unwanted sexual behaviors or longstanding relational problems—these are more like a home renovation.
- Humility. After the first two, this one may go without saying, but it’s worth discussing. Humility is not a posture of defeatism. It’s not saying, “I’m so pathetic that I need to get help and spend lots of time working on this problem.” No, humility is a posture of receptivity. It says, “I am a created being and not my own creator, and so I need God and others to help me.” Humility acknowledges limitations but it also aspires to greatness because the humble person recognizes that God is at work. Humility acknowledges a person’s sin and weakness plainly, and it also plainly acknowledges his or her glory and strength. Why? Because humility does not need to puff up or beat down. Humility is about living in what is real.
This is important because we live in a world that thrives on image, even if the image is an illusion. Humility is never satisfied with the appearance of wholeness, humility is after wholeness itself. And because humility is after something real, it is willing to ask questions, seek out help, admit failure, celebrate success, fall down, get back up, and stay the course.
All this is actually really good news. Jesus is has come not to prop you up but to give you new life. Wherever the journey leads and however long it takes, if you’re following Him, it is worth it.
I’d love to hear from you. Which of these has been hardest for you to accept? What’s one step you can take today to embrace one of these more fully?