But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:11
I turned the big 5 – 0 last week. I’d love to say I still feel 30, but there are a lot of days when that’s just not the case. For too long I lived life on overdrive, never taking care of myself in the process. I got away with that for the first 45 years of my life, but it all caught up to me in year 46.
As my health careened downhill like a runaway freight train, I prayed and I prayed for a miraculous recovery. I wanted to be restored to who I was before. I wanted the energy, good health, and agility I had for the first 45 years of my life.
In this Scripture passage, Naaman gets angry because Elisha’s instructions on how to be cured of his leprosy don’t fit Naaman’s vision of how he wants to be healed. In fact, he’s in such a rage, he refuses to obey. He’d rather remain a leper than relinquish his idea of how his miracle should happen. Can you imagine?
Fortunately, his servants convince him to let go of his vision, and follow Elisha’s commands. After dipping in the Jordan River seven times, he is cured and his flesh “becomes clean like that of a young boy.” Not only is his skin transformed, but his heart is as well. He asks for forgiveness, and becomes an avid believer in God from that point forward.
My friend is a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She works a lot with kids diagnosed with Leukemia. She says she can pretty much tell, right from the start, what cases will be successful. The kids and families that face the situation, pull together, support one another, and lean into their new normal, rather than trying to run away from it, are the ones who succeed. Their acceptance of their new reality keeps them flexible. That flexibility helps them absorb the blows of the inevitable setbacks, rather than being destroyed by them.
I have another friend whose dad is losing the battle to dementia. She’s now dividing herself in two: caring for her kids in Massachusetts, and caring for her parents in Connecticut. Despite all the commuting, work, grief, and exhaustion, her email to me simply said, “This is how life is for me right now.”
I was blown away by her ability to accept her new normal. With her father’s advanced condition, it is highly unlikely that his health and cognition will be restored. But I do see a miracle happening nonetheless. Because she is walking the path laid out for her with acceptance, I believe God is gifting her with the grace and peace that she needs to get through this very difficult time.
I wish I could say I was doing as well. With a lot of work, exercise, diet changes, and prayer, I have finally gotten my health issues under control. But I haven’t truly come to terms with the fact that I will never be like I was before.
Among other things, in my new normal it takes a full week to recover from one day’s worth of self-neglect. However, I routinely forget that and continue to overdo it. Other times, I get so frustrated with the hard work of self-care that I purposely choose to fall off the wagon. Then I spiral down in defeat. That spiral can be fast, furious, depressing, and scary. I know God doesn’t want any of this for me. But because I lack acceptance, and I want what I want, my way, that spiral happens.
Naaman was fortunate to have devoted servants who convinced him to accept how God wanted him to proceed. Without those servants, he never would have been healed. But bigger than the transformation of his flesh was the transformation of his belief in the Lord as the one and only true God. That was the real miracle.
We too are blessed to have a devoted servant: the Holy Spirit. When we are fighting against our current circumstances, rejecting our own new normal, we’re keeping ourselves rigid, brittle, and in a stance where we can easily be broken. It’s like we too are choosing to remain lepers, rather than relinquish our own ideas of how our miracles should happen.
If we can open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, listen to His guidance, we will be filled with the wisdom, flexibility, and grace we need to accept how our lives are, no matter how difficult. Once we do that, we will experience our own transformations. We may not be cured on the outside, but we will receive our healing miracles on the inside, in our souls, the place where it matters most.
Questions For Reflection:
* What difficult and irreversible circumstances in my life am I fighting against?
* Have I prayed for the wisdom and grace to accept my own new normal?
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