When I was a kid, my dad had the cure for everything: Vicks VapoRub. Got a scrape there, buddy? Slap some Vicks on it. Coughin’ with a cold? Slather yer little-man chest with Vicks and get to bed. Got a sore throat? (you are not gonna guess the cure for this) Swallow a dab of Vicks—no kidding. I remember swallowing Vicks. The sore part is on the inside, so the Vicks needs go on the inside, too. It’s just common sense. Years later, I remember reading the label on a jar of Vicks only to see “For external use only.” When on earth did they change that?
When something is wrong with us, we commonly have one of two issues, often both. “What is wrong with me?” and then “What do I do about it?”.
The problem: I just fell and knocked out my front tooth.
The solution: I had better go to the dentist.
But what if you got injured and you didn’t know it? What if your body was not sending you the right signals and you were not alerted to the fact that you were hurt? Well then, no solution—no frantic drive to the emergency room is gonna happen. The wound is going to get worse, infection will spread, etc. Sure, the injury is the problem, but not being able to respond to it is tragic. I have good news, and I have good news. I know, you want to hear the good news first. Okay, grab onto something solid…
You are not okay, and you don’t have to pretend that you are anymore. What do I mean by you’re not okay? I mean your soul is not right, and your emotions are unreliable and possibly askew.
You are afraid people are about to find out that you are not super at everything you do.
You believe this current failure proves that you are worthless.
You can’t figure out why you keep doing things that make you more miserable.
Well this stuff and more like it are the result of one problem: You are not okay. You are a partial person. Your soul is wounded, and your emotions are a mess. You are incomplete, and you believe things that are not true. Equally important, you do not yet know some things that will really blow your mind and alter how you see the world in all the best possible ways. You will never come up with this stuff on your own, however, because—well, you are a partial person. You are not supposed to be super at everything. You cannot possibly know what you haven’t learned yet. Most of our troubles come out of the fact that we—ALL OF US—are broken, incomplete, deceived, and self-deluded individuals who are totally unable to fix this junk on our own. I know it’s hard to believe, but this is really good news because, now that we can identify the problem (think knocked-out tooth), we can move toward the solution (think dentist).
The solution is not Vicks—not internal or external. VapoRub will not help here. But I do have a near cure-all. I say “near” because there may be a problem that this doesn’t solve; I just haven’t come across it yet. The big answer, the cure-all is… The Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is a Christian code word for a community of loving, mature disciples of Christ. Not impressed? Let me explain.
Independence is one of the highest virtues in our culture. Not needing anyone is in our blood. We grew up with the ruggedly independent cowboy, cop, or otherwise self-reliant rebel as our standard. We’ve admired the Lone Wolf, the visionary who didn’t listen to anyone and built a cool computer company. I am confident in saying that any problem with our emotions or soul can only find healing through the Body of Christ. Isolation will kill you. Why? Because in your life, you are both the storyteller and the audience. This is a closed loop. You tell yourself your story, and it means the same thing to you every time.
“I am damaged goods, and it’s my fault.”
“I was horribly rejected by this person because I am obviously worthless.”
“I’m a failure, and it will always be like this.”
If you were to tell your story to a safe, mature believer (think Body of Christ), I guarantee you that he or she will hear your story differently than you do. He or she will undoubtedly tell you things you would never come up with on your own, like:
“That is very painful, but of course you know that you were a child then, and this wasn’t your fault.”
“That is a terrible thing to go through, but he was damaged and unhealthy, and what he did was
much more about him than you. What he said about you is simply not true.”
“That is terribly discouraging, but you are doing things to cause your own chaos and failure.
You don’t have to do those things anymore. You really can change.”
One of the most toxic things about isolation is that it begets isolation. I have met many people who are without hope because they are certain they are the only ones in this church who struggle with________________. There is shame in admitting to weakness just to start with, but there is also a horrible confidence that rejection is coming if the sin/weakness/damage is discovered. So these hurting people remain alone, telling their hopeless story to themselves and suffering from shame, determined to never reveal their soul to anyone.
I would like to be one member of the Body of Christ to you right now. I would like to challenge the story you’ve told yourself and what it means. I want to accost you with hope. You are NOT alone. You CAN find peace and belonging. You really can feel loved by people and God, and you can then give love back to people and God the way you were created to. The Holy Spirit is in the full-time business of bringing healing along with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). However, I am convinced that you can only develop these gifts with the help of the Body of Christ.
Admittedly, if you open yourself up to the wrong people—selfish, fearful, and overly controlling people—you are going to be wounded even more. That fear of pain is why you’ve pretended and self-protected for so long. But what if—what if you KNEW where you could go to find safe, loving believers who will not be shocked or reject you? What if there were people who would be like a warm, safe, protective hug for your soul? The staff of our Family Ministry are those people. I promise. Here, you will be understood and cared for, loved and comforted. Then you will be challenged to do some work, some discovery and reflection. You will be told you need more believers in your life who will show you that surrender is hard yet wonderful. You will need to surrender to God and to the Body of Christ often and for the rest of your life. The thought of this may cause you some anxiety, but it is truly a balm for your soul. You will come to love it.
Once you are rooted in the Body, you may also be referred to outside help. In the past, that prospect may have thrown you into a bad spiral because you believed “Only losers need help like that.” But once you have been face to face with people who love you and walk along with you, you will start to believe that help may be, well, helpful and not shame-inducing. Therefore, you will be free to embrace and pursue professional help because you already feel safe and known.
You are a partial person who is in need of help from God and others. If you are willing to receive this help, the Body of Christ will come to care for you and bring healing to you. In time, you can be the Body of Christ to others. It is a wonderful, beautiful healing thing that God gave us as a most precious gift. Accept it. Allow yourself to be known and guided, and then find healing in the arms of God. This kind of peace and wholeness is what your soul was made for. That’s why you long for it so much.
We are not enough, and that is supposed to draw us back to God and the Body of Christ. The exciting news is this: we are not enough, but when we allow ourselves to be embraced with loving, mature believers, we can be whole together. Then we can all care for each other and heal together and fall more in love with God as we do. That is way better than slathering some VapoRub on yer chest. This kind of healing has lifelong, generational, and eternal ramifications. That is downright exciting.
Dave Carl is the Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the ministry focusing on children birth through graduation and the parents who love. With a ministry philosophy based on Luke 10:27 his primary focus is to give parents the skills to raise kids who truly love Jesus and want to serve others. Dave has a passion for ministering to families in crisis in our community. He has spent several years pouring into fathers and husbands and helping them learn that they need community, were designed to guard and protect, and that they really can be the spiritual leaders of their family.
Dave and his wife Cathy of 20 plus years have three children with one married, one in college and one in high school. Dave is an avid woodworker and loves to write. He see’s all stories in the form of pictures in his head and he would love to connect with you!