When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
Once in a great while a book comes along that grips you, challenges you, encourages you, and changes you. It grabs you and makes you shout a resounding “yes” or “me too” or “I understand” from the comfort of your favorite reading chair. A book that you wish you had written. A book that will remain on your shelf of favorites indefinitely. I recently read a book like that.
fully \ fo͝olē/ (adverb)
1. completely or entirely; wholly; to the furthest extent
alive \ ə-ˈlīv(adjective)
1. having life; living; existing; not dead or lifeless
2. in a state of action; in force or operation; active
3. full of energy and spirit; lively; having the quality of life; vivid; vibrant
So…being fully alive means: living a vibrant life, full of energy and spirit? Being whole, complete…to the furthest extent? Jesus said it like this:
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, til it overflows]. John 10:10 amp
Fully Alive by Susie Larson arrived in my mailbox at the precise time I needed it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was about to walk through a hard struggle, a dark valley of a very emotionally trying time. I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe God has perfect timing. One of the first quotes to jump off the page was this:
What happens in our souls happens in our cells.
Wait…did I read that right? “What happens in our souls happens in our cells.” She went on to say “A distressed soul creates a distressed body.” That’s it! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell myself and my friends and my patients for years. I’ve said it in so many different ways but none as direct and easy to understand as that. It’s cellular…foundational, a building block on which everything else is built.
cell – the smallest structural unit of living matter capable of functioning independently
Do you see how important that is? The very building block, the blueprint, the structure woven within us responds to comfort, love, peace, and joy…but also to pain, anger, unforgiveness, shame, fear, grief, anxiety, and so much more.
People are resilient. They can go through all types of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and every imaginable adversity; but why do some thrive but others stay stuck forever? Always wounded, always a victim, never an overcomer? In the Old Testament, after God had delivered the young men from the heat of the fiery furnace, it was noted that: the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke! (Daniel 3:27)
They didn’t even smell like smoke. What does that look like in our world? To not have any lasting, contaminating residue from our fiery trials, afflictions, and wounding from others? “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god.” To be walking around, even in the midst of trial and adversity, unbound? Unrestricted in our walk with God and others? Fully Alive. I see people so wound up, stressed out, frazzled, and going in so many different directions that they never consider how everything brewing beneath the surface is affecting their current physical and emotional health.
Autoimmune disease, obesity, poor nutrition, chronic pain, addiction, depression, anxiety, despair, and suicide are at an all-time high: physical, emotional, and spiritual sickness, injury, and disease. I think Susie may have tapped into so much more than she realized with that simple phrase: “What happens in our souls happens in our cells.”
So…what’s the next step? To identification, to healing, to restoration?
We cannot and must not keep grinding our gears through life while ignoring the physical and emotional toll that our hardships have had on us. Neither can we ignore the mental and/or emotional symptoms that are trying to get our attention.
Susie describes a gentle “unearthing” process…like a farmer carefully preparing his field for sowing seed and new life, like the gentle strokes of artist creating a timeless masterpiece, or the life-saving hands of skilled surgeon.
Discovery takes work. Healing, renewal, and restoration take work. Each chapter of the book concludes with opportunity for soul-searching, prayer, reflection, spiritual resetting, and digging deeper. It’s a good work. A life-changing, healing work.
Part of our healing process involves resetting our perspectives around our suffering and the sufferings of others.
I studied Genesis last year and couldn’t help but be reminded of Joseph’s words: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” Not that the author addresses that specifically; but she does address the battle we’re in, peace in the storm, trust, and rest for our bodies and souls.
In the midst of the specific storm I was facing a few weeks ago, I had an unexplainable peace. As I sat in my cozy chair with the book, I read these words:
There’s a time to engage and contend for the promises of God, and many of us know how to war on that front. But in the midst of the battle, so few of us know the warfare power of a heart at rest. Jesus modeled this when He slept in a boat that was about to be capsized in the storm. He didn’t worry. He didn’t panic, He didn’t feel an impending sense of doom. He took a nap. And when He got up from his nap, He took authority over the storm.
He took authority. His mind, body, and spirit were at rest. Fully Alive. At that point I realized what “a peace that passes understanding” meant and what it felt like to be walking, and resting, in it. To be Fully Alive is to feel: joy and pain, but hope. Heartache and victory. But being Fully Alive is also to fight…sometimes with the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith; sometimes with rest, trust, and dependence.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Is 30:15
There is so much more I could write about the book and its encouragement and impact on my life during this season. But maybe it’s your turn to explore and dig and unearth and walk in rest and freedom…to be Fully Alive.
But message me if you want to study it together! 🙂
All quotes from Susie Larson’s book Fully Alive: Learning to Flourish-Mind, Body & Spirit
So…what do the title Together Is Better and the term heal have in common?
I recently found myself in the midst of a small circle of women exploring and recounting stories, struggles, truths, and lies learned in the murky depths of life, loss, hurt, and healing. Anytime a tightly woven circle of believing women gather to go deeper into matters of the heart, not only is there coffee; invariably there are tears, prayer, hugs, words of encouragement, and usually snacks. 🙂 Where two or more are gathered, there is great potential for depth, accountability, searching, support, confrontation, and sometimes conflict. But there is also life and love and lessons that are not learned in text books, television, or self-help videos. Somewhere in the midst of the searching and sharing, words and images from a book I had read years earlier found their way into the conversation.
That’s why you’re here…I want to heal the wound that has grown inside of you, and between us…there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away…life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.
The Shack, by William Paul Young, was released to both raving accolades and scalding controversy. Different, edgy, imaginative.Yes, it’s fiction, but as God, yes God, met with and spoke those tender words to the struggling, hurting soul in the story, I was reminded of a phrase that my pastors frequently quote: Together is better. I attend a contemporary church that emphasizes the importance of small group ministry. I suppose it’s a phrase that I’ve heard at least a thousand times: a catch phrase, a cliche, a buzzword, good advice? More than that, it’s a direction, a building block, and a ministry. People matter. Words matter.They have meaning and consequence. Sometimes a few black and white words on a page can breathe the hope, healing, and breath of God to a hungry, hurting, searching people.
I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships, so will our healing…
Getting head issues out of the way makes the heart stuff easier to work on later…when you’re ready…I can set you free, but freedom can never be forced…you don’t even understand that freedom is an incremental process.