Liuan Huska, author of Hurting Yet Whole, talks with Amy Julia about chronic illness and pain, experiencing wholeness while living in suffering, and the relationship between community and healing for both the individual and society. (scroll to the end for book giveaway details!)
A freelance writer and speaker, Liuan focuses on topics of embodiment and spirituality. Her writing, on everything from chronic pain to evangelical fertility trends, appears in publications including Christianity Today and The Christian Century. She lives with her husband and their three little boys in the Chicago area.
Connect with Liuan online:
On the Podcast:
“For people with disabilities, so much of the suffering that happens has to do with how they do or don’t fit into society’s definitions and ideas of what’s a good life and a productive life and a meaningful life. That also plays into chronic illness.”
“When I first started having pain and I couldn’t be in my body in ways that were joyful and life-giving...being in my body felt like a death sentence...To me being whole meant going out on bike rides and dancing and backpacking around the world, and suddenly I didn’t have those avenues for flourishing in the world. My body is part of me, so how do I reconnect with my body?”
“We don’t have to be perfect to be whole. How is my body still good? Can I find purpose in the imperfection? What does it mean to be present in my body? And what does it mean to experience God’s purpose and goodness as I am, being able to accept that this is the reality that I’ve been given…I can choose to live as I am, as the body that I am, without needing to wish myself back to a previous state of what I thought was normal.”
“We can promote the health of communities and groups of people as a whole by starting to pull back those layers of systemic issues.”
To enter to win a copy of Hurting Yet Whole, complete Steps 1 & 2:
1. Go to your favorite podcast platform and rate or review the Love Is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker podcast
2. Then let Amy Julia know you've completed Step 1 by contacting her via messages on her Instagram or Facebook or via her contact page on her website—amyjuliabecker.com/contact/
The book winner will be randomly selected on Monday, February 1, 2021.
Thank you to Breaking Ground, the co-host for this podcast.
Head, Heart, Hands, Season 4 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast, is based on my e-book Head, Heart, Hands, which accompanies White Picket Fences. Check out free RESOURCES that are designed to help you respond to the harm of privilege and join in the work of healing. Learn more about my writing and spea
Connect with me:
Thanks for listening!
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Hi friends. I'm Amy Julia Becker and this is love is stronger than Fear a podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of social division. And this season, we're talking about how we can respond to the brokenness in our own lives, in, in our society with our whole selves Head Heart and Hands. And today I get to talk with Luanne Huska about the experience of healing from chronic pain and how it has helped her to think differently about healing, wholeness and participation in God's healing, work in the world, and do stay tuned at the end of this interview. I'll let you know how you can, when a copy of Lou Ann's beautiful new book. Hurting Yet Whole all right.
Well, I am here today with Liuan Huska. She is the author of Hurting Yet Whole reconciling body and spirit in chronic pain and illness. And if you haven't had the chance to see this book yet, not only is it a beautiful book as far as contents, but the cover is also really beautiful. I just love it. So let man welcome. Thank you for being here today.
1 (1m 6s):
Okay. Thanks so much for having me on mute Julia
0 (1m 9s):
Well, for this season of the podcast, I am talking with lots of different people about how we as individuals and as communities can participate in God's healing, work in the world. And I'm focused in most of these conversations on the idea of social healing and how we can participate in that using our heads, our hearts, and our hands. And this is not exactly what your book is about. It's not exactly about social healing, but it is all about healing and about what it means to reconcile body and spirit, and think about healing in different ways perhaps than we've been taught, especially in a Western American cultural Christian context. So I thought your book was a wonderful way into a conversation about what healing is, how our understanding of healing can change our understanding of ourselves, of God of the world around us.
0 (1m 60s):
So I'm really excited to get to talk to you about these things today. And I'm, I thought we would just start by letting our listeners know a little bit about you and what compelled you to write Hurting at home. So could you just tell us about your own story or your experience with chronic pain and how that led to writing this book?
1 (2m 20s):
Yeah, so I started having ankle pain when I was 21 years old. I just graduated from Wheaton college and quit my first ministry jobs at a nonprofit. I was really stressful and it started having this little pain in my ankle that I thought we would go away after a couple of weeks. And I started seeing doctors after a few weeks and nothing was happening. Got kinda caught up in high need to be fixed that this is like a problem, and I'm doing something wrong if I'm not getting better.
1 (3m 1s):
And about maybe three or four months in it, it sort of settled on me that this pain might be something that was ongoing. You know, I'd seen multiple doctors and hadn't really found anything that was as far as diagnosis or treatment that was really helping. So that started a whole Season of depression and anxiety and asking lots of questions, asking lots of questions too. God and also the questions to myself about who I was and what my identity was now that I wasn't what I thought I was, which I had always thought I was capable and productive and that my body could kind of fit in to my agenda for in my life.
1 (3m 46s):
And then at that point it was clear that my body was not going to co-operate. So lots of the questions around, you know, am I in my body or am I more than my body? What does the Christian story say about that? Our bodies and healing? What is it? What does it mean that Jesus, as our healer When, we don't get better in the way that we assume we will get better. So yeah, that went on for three or four years or so. It was really not able to walk more than a couple blocks and just limping suddenly changed my, you know, the way I moved about and society, it was no longer I'm an able bodied person suddenly was, I didn't want to be categorized as a disabled.
1 (4m 35s):
That was a, it was a really hard, you know, I didn't want to attach that to me and be that person on the prayer list. So that was always like, I have these issues going on or are not able to go up and get communion talking about, you know, social healing and what does it mean for us to seek healing as part of a social body? So those are all the kinds of questions and things that he was struggling with as I came out of that season, ended up getting pregnant with our first child. And so for some reason that he had to do it the way that, that the hormones in pregnancy are shifting God a little better.
1 (5m 17s):
And that actually gave you the mental and emotional space to start to think about these questions. I'm a little bit more, you know, when they're weren't so like existential, it made it a little easier to process. So that's how the book came about. Sort of my frustration with the narratives that I had was kind of been given by the church of what healing means or what it means to be in our body that suffers, or is it any more then you just kinda get back to, you were like, if you try to like ignore the suffering or like overcome the suffering or was there something else that we could gain or least be present to in, in times of suffering?
0 (6m 2s):
And one thing I think your book does as well, but also that I've just been noticing in recent years is that chronic pain is a situation that so many people find themselves in and you bring up this it's certainly less expected for a 21 year old who has always been able-bodied to all of a sudden be in that situation. Although not unprecedented. I mean, there are lots of people, whether they're young and certainly for people who are aging, who begin to experience that chronic pain and the ways in which our society tends to react, I can so relate in my gut reaction of wanting to fix someone's problem either by like, have you tried medications?
0 (6m 46s):
Have you tried yoga? Do you know about, you know, like I, I want to give solutions and what's funny for me is that as a Christian, I actually don't like prayer is not usually on my list of fixes, which is not, not to say that prayer fixes our chronic pain anyway, but it's just an interesting thing that I noticed how much I've separated bodily pain from God's healing work. And yet I also think that when we do bring it into a Christian context, we can often oversimplify it as well. So it's like, we can just, I don't know if getting it wrong is the right way to talk about it, but we can certainly oversimplify both from like a secular cultural level and within the church, the experience of pain, as well as the UN our understanding of healing.
0 (7m 34s):
And again, that's what your book does so well as to speak in to unpack some of those questions, not just through the realm of your experience, but in this, in this broader, broader sense. And so I, my next question for you, I do want to ask you how you understand healing, but I thought that maybe we could start with this idea of Pain like, how do you understand pain? How would you define it? What purpose does it serve? Like, what is it, what if you think about it, how do you think about it?
1 (8m 3s):
I've actually never gotten that question. I mean, there's so many layers to it. So there is a physical pain, which is why I think on the most basic level is the body's way of telling you that something is wrong. Okay. Or that there's something that you need to like pay attention to right. In your body or your surroundings. Often it's a signal of danger. Like, you know, The like that reflex. So we have, when we touch a hot stove is like to jerk back.
1 (8m 43s):
Like we don't want to be there. And so that's a natural reaction is to want to get out of the pain. And then when it's chronic, then it becomes you like, what, what do you do? And you can't escape it. And then do you continue to categorize it as your body's telling you that something's wrong? And if so, then what's wrong and what do we have to, is that something in a fix? Or is it just like, Oh, like my body's not kind of responding in the way it should be responding. So that's, that's a, that's the big question as I think about pain that I've had and continue to wrestle with is like, does it mean that something is wrong?
1 (9m 27s):
It's like, Pain a signal that we need to fix something. Or do you guys, are we able to kind of be present to the pain without needing to kind of categorize it as good or bad? And, you know, as though he was thinking about kind of the theology behind Pain, I started going back to like the biblical stories of the creation and the fall. And there's a lot of within evangelical Christian circles. I feel like the, for a really common narrative is Pain comes out of the fall. So like maybe before Adam and Eve sinned that we didn't have pain or disease or disability or suffering.
1 (10m 11s):
And then once, once the fall happened than all of that was ushered into the world. So that's something that I've always wrestled with Is is like, does it, does my pain indicate like some broken state of humanity that I need to kind of reconcile with what God is doing and his work of transformation? Or is it something else that I can just like, accept? Like, what is it there to begin with? And then on top of the physical pain, there's also the emotional pain, which in my experience of chronic pain was actually a worse or like it entailed more suffering for me. So that's another thing, like, is there like an intrinsic connection between pain and suffering?
1 (10m 56s):
Like if I experience physical pain, does that mean that I'm like suffering all the time or is my suffering actually caused more by my like, approach to the pain? And then I started getting into like Buddhist, Eastern ways of thinking about Pain, which are way less like needing to categorize good and bad. That, that was really helpful actually for me to take a step back and say like, OK, why am I suffering? Or is it because of the physical Pain or is it because of the way that I'm kind of like having this advice, like a grip on, like, I need to fix my pain and then it's not getting fixed. So that's, what's causing me the emotional pain.
0 (11m 39s):
Well, and I wonder if they are to thinking in the social terms, because as you know, I've had a child with a disability, so I've thought a lot about how we understand disability and whether suffering is something that's just a part of the disability. And one of the things I've recognized, especially because I have a child who physically has not suffered much at all in her life, and that's not always true for people with disabilities, but it has been for her. And so this idea of like, even in the media, people will write so-and-so suffers from down syndrome. And it's like, that is like literally not true of our daughter. And yet the way in which society sees people with down syndrome can perpetuate a lot of suffering in terms of loneliness, rejection, and isolation.
0 (12m 28s):
And I wonder when you say that there was a social aspect to your pain and like an emotional aspect to your pain, how much of that had to do with without pointing fingers, but like how other people were perceiving you, like, was that contributing to your pain essentially.
1 (12m 47s):
All right. And like you said, with people with disability is so much of the suffering that happens has to do with how they don't do or don't fit into society's definitions and ideas of what's a good life and a productive life and a meaningful life. So I felt like That also plays into chronic illness. That you can, we can start to ask the question, like, is this suffering and maybe are these limits that are causing suffering due to like the experience, like the physical experience and itself, or kind of the way that our world works so that we were not able to participate in the life of society in the ways that would enable us to feel more supported and connected and, and experienced healing.
1 (13m 42s):
0 (13m 43s):
I would love actually. So I want to come back to some of those ideas. Well, actually, before we do this, I will also want to point out though, you brought up the fall and it's not just did, Pain enter the world with sin. Right. But also have I done something sinful if I am experiencing pain, right. So there's kind of this like idea that the world is broken and maybe pain comes and it has nothing to do with our behavior. But I think there's also another narrative of like, well, if you see something must be wrong, whether it's with your faith or with your devotion, or literally you actually did something wrong, there's some relationship either overtly or more subtly between sin and pain or a moral wrongdoing.
0 (14m 29s):
And Pain that at least within the church can come up, I think, and, and again, contribute to the pain itself, right?
1 (14m 37s):
Yeah. Yeah. I definitely have those same. I like those questions, like, what am I doing that's contributing to this? Or what do you need to do differently? Or even if it wasn't about sin, there's sort of the need to attach a purpose to our Pain to what we were going through. So like, I, I'm not saying this is, this was unhelpful, but it may be, it was doing more then I think we can do as human beings. Some people would say what God is using this, the seeing that you are going through to refine your character. And, and that's probably a common thing within the disability experience too, is that, Oh, they're like so strong or like they have overcome so much to get to this point, like as if what we were experiencing, like God intended it in order for us to become certain people.
1 (15m 39s):
And so I also, you know, kind of wrestled with that, like, okay, well, what are you doing? God like, how can I learn this lesson so I can get over this now and be done with it. Like if you're trying to teach me something and all right, what is it so I can, I can move on to the next stage of my life. So that was another way to kind of narrate what I was going through that I pushed against that. I wonder if I don't think we need to have that in order to have our experiences have pain and suffering be meaningful.
0 (16m 14s):
Mmm. So from there, how do you understand healing and how has that understanding changed over time? If it's not fixing and going back to, you know, the person that I was when I was 20 or, you know, what What, what does that come to me and for you and what did it used to mean? <inaudible>
1 (16m 36s):
Yeah. So the, the way that I've understood healing, I think ongoing even at the beginning was by thinking about wholeness as like wanting to be like, kind of complete and, you know, and for me, when I first started having pain and I couldn't be in my body in ways that were joyful and life-giving like being in my body felt very, you know, kind of like a death sentence in a way. Like, I, I felt really trapped in my body. I wanted to escape.
1 (17m 17s):
I felt alone and isolated by the pain. So like I thought, you know, I needed to like get back to the way my body was so I can be whole again, because it's like being, Whole like, for me, it meant going out on, you know, bike rides and dancing and, and backpacking around the world. And I, and I suddenly didn't have those avenues for, you know, a flourishing in the world. And I had to kind of think, okay, well in my body is part of me. So then how do I like reconnect with my body?
1 (17m 58s):
If my body is part of me and I want to be like this, like, you know, the whole complete human being that's has all the parts of myself connected. So that's when I started asking more questions about how can we live well and be present when our bodies aren't always, you know, functioning at their optimal level, but, or yeah, or even just redefining what optimal a normal functioning is. That, that also really helps me is realizing that there's so many, there's a spectrum of able-bodied and disabled or healthy and well, and it's not like we have to be like perfect in order to be a whole.
1 (18m 51s):
And I think that's a common kind of misconception I'm in. And that, again, it goes back to the creation story in my book, I mentioned, you know, God calls creation good. And so on all of the UN after every thing that he created on all the six days, he says it is good. And he does it say it is perfect. So that, that just kind of forces me to ask the question, like, how is my body is still good and can I find purpose even in the imperfections? So it's, I've thought about healing. It's continued to just force me to ask how does it mean to be present in my body?
1 (19m 34s):
And what does it mean to experience God's purpose and goodness, as I am being able to accept that this is the, this is the reality that I'd been given and I can choose to live life as I am, as the body that I am without needing to wish myself back to a previous state of what I thought was normal.
0 (19m 58s):
Well, and I think about within that, you mentioned earlier, just the ways in which how we are in our body's relates to our identity. M and again, this is where I think about disability and the ways in which we tend to elevate. And then de-value certain types of bodies and types of lives, whether that is based on ability, whether that is based on income, whether its based on ethnicity, race, or class, I mean all these things, right. And I wonder how much of your self perception as valuable was linked to what I can do in my body.
0 (20m 41s):
I know that that for me, was something that I had to address and having a child with a disability. I can remember a couple years in with penny talking to someone who asked me how high functioning she was. And when, I mean the on like I just don't like the question, like I don't want to play into an idea that there are, that she is high functioning because she can speak and read and walk. Right. Because there's this sense of what do you even mean by that? It seems as though there's a value being placed on ability to function and, and, and what does function mean for a human being, right.
0 (21m 22s):
Like function? What does it mean? Does it mean being able to relate to other people, being able to love being able to experience joy, being able to, or does it mean yeah. Being able to be a self-sufficient super woman, you know, so I do think for me, certainly the experience of disability has led to very different understandings of what makes us valuable as human beings and even what it meant. You know, we go back to that story of Adam and Eve and the garden to be created. Good. I think I used to think that really meant to be created like Superman as opposed to, to be created human, like the limits and vulnerabilities and needs and the potential for yeah.
0 (22m 9s):
Pain and decay and yet the potential for love and healing and care within all of that. So yeah. Anyway,
1 (22m 19s):
It gets at those basic questions that we asked and every generation of what it means to be human. And is, is that it's part of me of being a human being, being able to have this like amazing intellect or is there something else that is at the core of our humanity that, that makes us human. And obviously we can look to Jesus as the best example of that, but it's really fascinating. And I think about some of the new research that's being done in, you know, the biomedical field and even like looking back at Anthropologie and what we've excavated as far as human remains, there's a really interesting New York times article that someone's shared with me called American Stop Being Ashamed of WeaknessAdam that came out a few months ago and they asked Margaret Mead who was one of the anthropologists from a few decades ago.
1 (23m 25s):
Like what was the first evidence of human society? Was it like our tool-making ability or some kind of like a thing that showed up for her intellect? And she pointed to like 12,000 years ago, there was a femur that they found that had someone had broken a femur and then it had healed. So was an evidence of a healed femur. And the, the takeaway she got from that was that this was the first evidence of is like a human society. Because if you had left that person to themselves in the conditions of early humans, they would have a very likely, you know, had been attacked by wild beasts.
1 (24m 6s):
But this tribe was able together on this human end take care of them for the however many weeks it took for them to recuperate and that it was what showed her like, okay, we've reached our humanity. Like this is what it means to be human.
0 (24m 21s):
That's amazing. I mean, that makes so much sense, but that's also, it's like such a beautiful image of what we're talking about, that the evidence of a broken bone that has healed is the evidence of love and care and humanity as opposed to invincible bones. Right. And being somehow the marker have that. That's really cool as well. So to this point, one of the things I'm thinking a lot about in general, and also in relation to your book is the relationship between body and spirit. When it comes to pain and healing, I was struck, this is, well, let's see, page one 29 'cause I wrote it down. You wrote this about an experience that you had when you were basically been overworking.
0 (25m 5s):
And you say that you wrote, I learned through this experience that when we push the override button one to many times, eventually it is our bodies say, no, this no comes in many forms, headaches, body aches, tightness in the chest, hormonal imbalances, rashes, stomach cramps, et cetera. Our bodies sometimes put on the brakes for a short time and then allow us to return to living at normal speed. In other cases, those symptoms drag on evading quick fixes. And we have to come to terms with what it might be called a chronic illness. And you can go on to write about this. So I'm curious to hear more about what you think in terms of our body saying no, because I'm going back to what you said at the beginning of our conversation about, and this is a very, it makes a lot of sense, right?
0 (25m 49s):
Hot stove, danger Pain comes. Right. But this is something more subtle that you're writing about here in terms of our bodies saying no, a when we are overworking or perhaps in an emotionally traumatic situation, but I'm just curious. Do you think, how do you see illness and injury as a, in relationship to this aspect of our body's that says no two, whatever is happening in our kind of environmental or circumstances. Yeah.
1 (26m 23s):
There's so much evidence now about the way that stress affects our health on so many levels to me is our immune system or our hormones. I'm just so much to do this dysregulation of, of our whole body. And so when I think about like kind of our, and if you think about illness or pain or any kind of discomfort, our bodies as a way that our bodies are kind of calling attention to, I'm going to be things that we'd rather not deal with. Then to me, like the S the rise in so many illnesses are so many invisible, a chronic illnesses in our society makes me ask you, what does, what does this say about how we're living as a society?
1 (27m 15s):
And the ways that our pace of life is affecting our ability to thrive and, and be human and be a whole, and I don't want to be like, I don't want to like say, because this is, this can be another one of those. Like, we, we kind of force this narrative onto people like, Oh, you have this autoimmune condition because you've been working too hard and you're like too stressed out. And like, you just need to like take a break and you'll be a better, and that's not always the case. And I mean, like a lot of these like invisible illnesses that I discuss, like fibromyalgia Hashimoto's or Crohn's, these are the things that happened after decades and decades.
1 (28m 2s):
And a lot of his things that we don't have control over, like our diet eating processed foods, or just, you know, the environment that we're in a, so yeah, I think all of those, those symptoms are our ways that we can kinda start to tune into. What's kind of off about the way we live, but at the same time, like knowing that we don't live in Eden, so we are not going to make things perfect. All right. I think that's another tendency. So when we start to go in to the paying attention to her symptoms as a kind of an indicator of lifestyle factors or environmental factors is that if we have the knowledge and resources and we often wants to create like bubbles surround ourselves like bubbles, a professional, like I will bet all organic foods from my kids and, you know, they will eat, you know, everything, non-processed all those sorts of things.
1 (29m 2s):
It can be ways that we, we try to go back to that Eden and, and that was just, this is not what we live in. So it's a, it's a really hard balance between like paying attention, but then knowing we're not going to fix everything just by ourselves, at least it, I think that this leads into this societal things that there's, we've got to start looking to like systemic issues.
0 (29m 27s):
Yeah. Can you say a little bit more about that in my mind was going in that direction too, but I'd love to hear from you the cause I think you're right. I mean, I think about someone who, I mean, even just a very simple example of developing lung cancer as a result of secondhand smoke, it's one thing I have plenty of smokers don't ever develop lung cancer, but even if you say you're a smoker and you develop lung cancer, you can say, okay, because effect all within my own body, my fault. And you know, I wouldn't even say it that simply, but you could, but in terms of something like secondhand smoke, and again, we can talk about pollution more broadly. We can talk about just what the systems are that lead to eating processed foods, but the communities are really effected adversely and experience pain and suffering and disease and injury as a result of environmental factors that are certainly not the because or a fault of any one individual.
0 (30m 25s):
1 (30m 27s):
Yeah, for sure. And yeah, so something like obesity or heart disease, those are more prevalent among African-American communities and there's this, this narrative of, Oh, they just make bad choices and we can, and you can just teach them to make better choices and, and they can go and buy fresh, healthy food. And then we have to look at the food deserts that they live in, or just in the hands of, they don't have that to the cost that they don't have the time they were probably, you know, working long hours. So how are they going to make from scratch meals all the time?
1 (31m 8s):
So those are all like the bigger picture questions that you start to ask and that, and you can do that for, you know, any issue, any health issue like there's, I mean, you know, so much of it is a mystery. And I think we can start to say like, what did we do? What did we do? And at some point you have to say, well, some of these things, they just, they just happen. But at the same time, there's ways that we can promote the health of the communities and groups of people as a whole by, by starting to peel back those layers of systemic issues,
0 (31m 44s):
Personal experience of pain that will change or affects the way you saw a communal healing, both in terms of the role that the community plays in healing for individuals, but also the role the individual plays in a community when it comes to healing. Can you speak a little bit about that connection between the two in your own experience?
1 (32m 10s):
Yeah. As far as how the first part of your question, how the community plays a role in individual healing. There's this chapter in my book, the myth of medical mastery, where you start to talk about my own seeking healing. At the beginning, it was all about me going to a doctor and the doctor to fix me. And it was just this like individual pursuit that I was on to find the silver bullet to fix pain. And then I started realizing that I was experiencing heeling all along. And what was happening in all these different levels through the, the friends that I was talking to through my husband there, the woman that he was praying with at church, and even through my health care providers, but it was, it was this bigger kind of healing that involved me realizing that I was part of a, a community that could support me so that my healing might not mean me getting better from my pain, but that I realized that whenever I was in a place of need, like whether that was, I was moving and I couldn't clean the house before we moved, because I was in too much pain.
1 (33m 33s):
Some, you know, friends came and they cleaned our house for us, or I couldn't do the laundry. My husband did the laundry. I realized that I was part of this bigger body and that I didn't feel like the bottom was falling out all the time when, when I was in pain that I had to like Schorr up and do it all by myself for like, kind of overcome my liabilities, but I can start to see my own liabilities if you would call them as far as like points of connection and ways that I was learning to depend on others, learning to be vulnerable and allowing people, there's a phrase that I quote from a physician in Rachel Naomi Remen, who says we are all providers of each other's health.
1 (34m 21s):
And so it was allowing people to provide my health and care for me and not just seek it for myself. So that's on the community, you know?
0 (34m 30s):
Yeah. And just that relationship between when we acknowledge our limitations, instead of trying to like push through them or ignore them or avoid them, or even like medicate them. Right. But you can just acknowledge our limits in, in a good world. And it doesn't always work this way of course, because our world is broken and fallen, but, and in good relationships, I think what limits can do is open us up to love and our desire. My desire is certainly to pretend I don't have limits is what tends to cut me off from Love because I won't accept help. And I won't. And then I become more isolated. I feel that pain becomes more of a sense of despair because I can't fix it.
0 (35m 13s):
And, you know, and, and so I get stuck inside of myself, but if I can actually admit the limit, ask for help and exist in a community, whether it's a marriage or a friendship or church or whatever, where people can step into the, the ways in which they've been given abilities to give, you know, there's really some great beauty that can come for everyone in that and, and healing again, not necessarily cessation of pain, but I think great healing that can happen among the communities when, when that happens. I think of that again with, I don't know if you've ever read Henry now and wrote about going and living in the larger community with a man named Adam who was not in any way going to value now and for his intellectual capacity and the amount of healing that happened in having a relationship with someone who simply loved him as a human and not as a professor who was impressive with his language.
0 (36m 16s):
Right. And that's a, maybe an extreme example, but those little exchanges that can happen when we are weak and vulnerable and someone says, yeah, I want to be with you in exactly this place. Not in spite of it, but with, I want to be with you here because I love you. And this is a way of really, I mean, the thought of one of my children of not being with them when they're in pain, I'm like, that is so much harder on my Heart than the thought of like being with them in Pain, even if I can fix it right. Because I want to be there to love them and to let them know that. But as an adult, I think I tend to, again, whether it's physical or emotional, think my job is to cover my pain so that no one else is bothered by it.
0 (37m 0s):
Yeah. So I'm curious just if there have been any spiritual practices that have either become a part of your life or that you were able to put into your life along the way, that helps you to experience healing, whether there was anything on that kind of mental, spiritual level that enabled you either to return to your body or to attend the, think about it in a different way, or to experience God's presence in a different way.
1 (37m 37s):
Yeah. So we have this moment that I think of it is funny because you asked about a spiritual practice as in this is a physical thing, but I think it was a spiritual practice. Yeah. As you remember, like a couple years, since my Pain taking a bath and suddenly feeling comfortable in my body, again, feeling good in my body. And it was such a healing experience just to receive the feeling of water on my skin and just like float in warmth. And so there are a lot of moments like that along the way, where I started to be able to enjoy the pleasure in my body, again, that were so healing for me.
1 (38m 26s):
Like, you know, realizing that my body was still a place where I could connect with people and connect with creation and like give her hugs and like take walks. Even if I wasn't like, you know, walking long distances, I could at least like, just take in nature. And I'm just learning to be present again, was what enabled me to kind of like heal and be, be comfortable going in my body. And then as far as like other practices, I've really benefited from meditation and it's something that I know, can I kind of like bring up red flags then, like Christian spheres, but there's a lot of a precedent for just that, that, that posture of like paying gentle attention to everything around you, that that is within the Christian tradition to, you know, centering prayer or the, the Jesus prayer where you're focusing on your breath and just asking Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.
1 (39m 35s):
And there's like, one of the books on the Jesus prayer talks about you're bringing your heart, like from your mind, like down into your heart. So you were like bringing your attention like down. So I like the things that I was able to do, they kind of got me out of here in my head when I was just like, kind of on like this like repetitive cycle of playing my fears and anxieties over and over into the present moment. And then, and in that moment, realizing that God was present with me, God is present with me. Those were, those are the most helpful.
0 (40m 15s):
Yeah. I'm really curious about the relationship between meditation and prayer. And I know the contemplative prayer tradition within Christianity, I think is the closest link there. And I know a lot of Christian to have really benefited myself included from both contemplative prayer, which I was not taught in my growing up as a Christian, but also from just even more like straightforward a meditation that is not a, that is simply about paying attention to the breath or noticing, Oh, my ankle hurts right now. And just like, can I, can I do that without going into all the fear and anxiety that comes if I fast forward or rewind?
0 (41m 3s):
Can I just say with this right now? Yeah. I mean, so when you look back on it and your 21 year old self, do you now think, Oh, such and such thing happened and my ankle started hurting, or do you see it as a mysterious event that led you on a journey that has helped you become who you are now or something in between? I mean, I realize I just narrated your own story. You know what I mean, to do that? He is like, how that, how you make sense of it now that you are not at all at the end of it, but at the same time have come to a, such a different place.
1 (41m 42s):
In the, in my book, I, I kind of do a rereading of the creation story and what happened in the fall as not that Pain entered into creation, but that Adam and Eve became newly aware of what they are. Their bodies already were, you know, susceptible to pain and fragile and mortal. And I feel like that's what that, the experience that I had in my twenties was it wasn't that I'm, it was like this like event that kind of like changed everything, but it was like me realizing what was already there.
1 (42m 25s):
And it probably would have happened if it didn't happen. When I was 21, it would of happened when I was 25 or 27. And it could have happened through having children. And there's so much a vulnerability and it just an awareness of our mortality and, or our propensity to suffer once you, you have children. And so that was just like, kind of the, the initial, all the scales falling off of my eyes. And maybe it happened for me earlier than the other people. But it's something that is, is just, I think, is a human experience.
0 (43m 0s):
That brings really true to me. I think about the entire year of 2020 as a, this revelation of, of what it was already true, but We for, in a variety of different ways and for a variety of different reasons, I saw it, whether that was in these very intimate. I see what is true when it comes to my relationship with food or alcohol, because if I don't have anywhere to go, that's what I do. Or I see what is true in my marriage when a little bit of pressure is applied, or I see what is true in our country when it comes to some of the social unrest that we've had. And that has seemed more visibile in this past year, I see what is true of our healthcare system and that some people are far more privileged than others when it comes to the protection from disease.
0 (43m 45s):
I see, you know, I mean, we could just keep that list going, but I think that there is a grace that can come from that awareness if we invite God into it, but not in the sense of it all gets fixed, but in that sense of, Oh, if this was true and I didn't know about it, and now I do, then there is an ability to live in that reality and invite joy and love and peace. Even into that place that maybe there wouldn't have been. If I continued to deny that reality, which I know has been what I've done for a lot of my life, it was just trying to muscle through, according to the productive and efficient and able-bodied weighs, been taught.
1 (44m 32s):
Yeah. I think one of the things that we, we still want to keep going, I was having a discussion group with my book launch team about this, a book. And I asked her what, what keeps us from being kind of sitting with our vulnerability and, and those places where we, we see how, what is true about ourselves. And then we just are like, Oh, I'm not going to look at that. I'm just going to keep going. And one woman said she, she had a children and a couple of children with learning disabilities and so on. And then earlier she was just shuttling them back and forth to different appointments and things.
1 (45m 14s):
And she mentioned if, if I had kind of a lot of myself to feel all the things that I was, you know, feeling under the surface, I think I would have just, my fear was that I would have been melted into a puddle and like never have been able to get up again. So I think there's, there's a level of like, Oh, it's really hard. It's like, we want to shield ourselves from that because it feels like it's just going to like squash us to the ground. Cause it's so heavy. And I think that's what I came to in my book is that, and, and I mean, not in, in, in the writing of the book, which is in the processing before I got to writing the book is like that place of like utter vulnerability and realizing how human we are in our, in our human condition.
1 (46m 7s):
I'm like you said, is, is the place where healing happens. It's like we have to be willing to go to that place in order to move forward. And that doesn't mean overcome, but it means like to find a better way forward or else we're just going to be like kind of pushing the trauma and the, the feelings under the surface unprocessed.
0 (46m 30s):
Well, and if something that is just true about who God is, is that God is a healer. And I mean that in a more holistic sense, not in the fixing and curing, then there is a sense of if we open ourselves up to healing than we are also freed to participate both in the healing work that God is doing and our own lives and the healing work that I believe God wants to do in all of the different examples that came up in this conversation, whether it's simply within a church community or a family, or in the broader social, all the dividing lines that can be repaired, that could be healed if we can experience that and believe it personally, which involves admitting places have pain and brokenness and vulnerability, then I think it does open us up to be a part of, of something bigger are and see some of that gentle, loving work around us.
0 (47m 33s):
Yeah. It opens us up to a new possibilities. If we can kind of let go of those narratives that we've had. Well, I think that is a good place to end this conversation in hope for possibilities, as we are willing and aware to look at a brokenness and limitations and then C what God can do in the midst of it. So thank you for being here today. I really appreciate your time. I really enjoy our conversation. Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are excited to give away a copy of Louann's new book. Hurting Yet Whole to enter for your chance to win, just rate and review this podcast, wherever you get your podcast.
0 (48m 17s):
And just send me a message to let me know that you've done it. Once I hear from you, you'll be entered in the giveaway because you can contact me through comments or messages on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or via the contact page on my website. Amy Julia Becker dot com all the details for this giveaway, as well as all the other references we mentioned in our conversation will be in the show notes as well. I finally, you want to thank our cohost breaking ground. If you want more podcasts and articles and videos that reflect from a Christian perspective on how to think about the past. I understand the present and to explore redemptive possibilities for the future visit breaking ground at you.
0 (48m 57s):
S thanks. Also again, to Jake Hansen for editing this Podcast to Amber Barry, my social media coordinator, who does more to support this show than anyone will ever know and join us next week. I'll be talking again about hope and healing with Katherine Wolf, and I hope you'll join us as you go into your day to day. I do hope you will carry with you. The piece that comes from believing that Love is stronger than fear.
2 (49m 23s):