“Just get over it already!”
“Quit worrying about it.”
“If you cared about yourself, you’d be able to do it cold turkey!”
“Think happy thoughts, and you’ll just be happy!”
Have you ever heard these things said to you before when you were down? Where someone insisted that the only thing you needed to heal was to convince yourself that you could?
Certainly, there’s something to be said about a good attitude and how people can overcome incredible odds. These days, science has been saying that healing from a plethora of diseases, from addiction to depression, isn’t something that we can ‘just’ do. Healing isn’t just mind over matter. We need each other to heal and to stay healthy.
For example, Johann Hari writes in this article that “the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It is human connection.” The article expounds upon experiments in which laboratory rats resisted drug-laced water when they had positive, social environments to engage with. When they were isolated in cages, rats chose drugs to ease their suffering. We need healthy environments to have healthy minds.
Human connection, it seems, is important for any aspect of healing, not just addiction. When I was a chaplain resident in a hospital, one of the things we looked for was how well patients were supported in their home environment. If people were isolated, chances were it would take them longer to heal. Support networks aided healing. Chaplains were an important part of the care team because they helped patients fight isolation and loneliness. We connected people with greater sources of meaning. A lot of times this meaning was spiritual. I found that most of the time, the greatest meaning was found in the hearts and hands of the people around the patient.
Building a network of people who care about you can be challenging. Often times, we want to help others in our community and keep up appearances. This is no different in our religious communities – the tendency can be to appear invulnerable. It is scary to admit to others that we are in need of healing. I encourage you to be vulnerable in our congregation because our community is a healing place for those that need it. Our caring committee does an excellent job of visiting those who are recovering from surgery, are feeling ill, or a card to cheer folks up.
And they set an example for the congregation – we know that to tell people to ‘just get over it’ isn’t what brings healing. Instead, we promise to be there in your time of need. We are that network that cares. It is this presence, this community, that creates the miracle of healing.