Our Sunday school lesson this week was drawn from several passages in the book of Isaiah. It was primarily drawn from a book about how to understand the Jewish interpretation of the passages, as opposed to the Christian one. I should have taken notes, I guess, because all I seem to have come away with is the impression that they view most of the messiah passages as referring either to the nation of Israel, or to one of their former kings.
Instead, I thought I would go into one of those pivotal times in my own life, as an illustration of the many ways we receive guidance from the Lord. Some years ago, when my daughter was around 4, an issue came up in our extended family that threw me for a loop. I’m not going into any detail about that but the result was that I had something I only much later understood as a major panic attack. Unfortunately, it interacted with some blood pressure issues I had, and sent me to the emergency room. No one there figured out that there might be an emotional connection at all. I was simply given incompatible medications and sent home. That’s a story in itself, but not the one I’m after at this point.
At any rate, as soon as I could, I headed to the bookstore to see what I could find to educate myself on high blood pressure. I looked at several books and selected two to buy. The last I grabbed mainly because it referred to things the doctor might not tell you, and I am completely on the side of alternative remedies and natural approaches. Doctors are seldom much help if you want to handle something primarily with diet and exercise. I had already asked that of the first one who suggested that my blood pressure was high and got no advice at all.
I brought my two books home and started to read. The basics were the same and the discussions of various medications were helpful. But the last book was a complete surprise as I got into it. It was written by a doctor who specialized in high blood pressure but went fairly lightly into dietary and exercise approaches. Instead, it got into an entirely different hypothesis, based on clinical experience that could not be easily tested. Basically the observation was that the higher the blood pressure and the more difficult to control, the more likely that there was an emotional connection. But the connection was not to current stress, which has a very transitory effect on blood pressure. The connection is to things you are not even aware of, things you have put behind you as just a part of the past.
The book followed up with several stories of people who, with a bit of questioning, came up with hurtful memories, often from childhood. When they admitted their negative emotions, perhaps of hurt, fear, anger, rage and the like, their blood pressure would drop and become more easily controlled by medication. Now these stories were of people who had been abused as children, or been prisoners of war, things like that. So naturally I wondered what this could have to do with me, since none of that applied to me.
And yet the list of other ailments that could also have a connection read a lot like the story of my life. There were migraines, depression, back pain, chronic fatigue, and other things, many of which had been part of my life for times both short and long. So I kept reading and wondering what I should do with these ideas. Eventually the author observed that he had included some worst case scenarios, but every person has some issues with things in their past. The key seems to be how you perceive what happened and whether you felt you had any control of the situation or were at the mercy of forces beyond your control.
What came to my mind, and was pretty much confirmed by my mother when I asked her about it, was my relationship with my older brothers. Their brotherly attention was often unwelcome from my perspective. And being kids, they often failed to stop tickling when asked. In fact, I was often in tears before they seemed to realize that I really wanted them to stop. The real issue was that I considered it a form of torment. So my body responded in much the same way as someone who really had been tortured. They were much bigger than I was so I hadn’t much hope of holding them off physically, though when I reached my teens I learned to do that. But I spent much of my younger years trying to hide from them, to find a safe place, though that hardly worked, except they usually would behave better when adults were present.
What do you know? My blood pressure fell after I realized that, to the point that I was able to reduce the medication by half and eventually down to only one medication instead of two, and that in a very small dose. Thank God, because the side effects were awful.
But I guess you are wondering what all of that has to do with guidance and healing. The thing is, it did not happen in a vacuum. Right before it all started I had been praying about what I should do once my daughter started school. I had no real career to fall back on, nor did I really need to work. But I felt like I should have had more of a ministry than I had ever had up to that point and so I was praying for guidance on that. This experience seemed at the time to be more setback than progress, but God sure seemed to have a hand in it. But in hindsight, I see it as the beginning of a healing process that really opened up a couple of years later, and continues to this day.
I firmly believe that God guided me to that book. I had spent some time looking at other books and debating their merits, choosing very carefully. That one I barely glanced at and took mostly on a hunch. To me, when something just appears like that, and it is just what you need, it’s a God thing. It’s simply one of the ways He guides us in our walk with Him. It led me eventually into a time of healing, in the midst of a very unsettled time with a lot of loss and grieving. I came to know God in a new way, which in turn affects how I approach issues in my life and in the lives of those around me. I now believe that part of our calling as Christians is to bring healing to those around us. The way we begin to develop that bit of Jesus’ character is to start by letting Him into our old wounds. As we are healed, so we can pass that blessing on to others. Will you let God heal you?