Back when I was going to Believer’s Chapel, there was a popular book called The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee that was used not just as a small-group resource, but also as the text for our lay counselors class. The purpose of the book was to expose the ‘lies we believe’; to identify our erroneous beliefs, target them in order to change them, and so eradicate our undesirable feelings and behaviors.
The problem was, I wasn’t believing a lie. My husband really was sleeping with The Elf, and everyone who knew about it was told not to tell me in order to ‘save’ a marriage that had apparently already ended. I didn’t believe that I was unloved by God, or unworthy, nor was I at all unsure of where I stood spiritually. In fact, that period of my life was the strongest I’ve ever felt spiritually, probably because the only reality I had was God. I did believe (not mistakenly) that going to the store to get a gallon of milk shouldn’t have taken two days (unless the store was at Turning Stone in Oneida) or that husbands shouldn’t be locking their wives out of the house, or sleeping with elves. I also believed that I could not leave my husband except for infidelity, and while I had suspicions, I had no proof, as everyone who knew about it was told not to tell me.
So, I read the book, and did my homework. But I still believed there was something I wasn’t being told, and had an uneasy feeling (belief?) that life as I knew it was about to go horribly wrong. In fact, in one group, when asked “What the Holy Spirit was saying to me specifically” the only thing I could come up with was “Brace yourself.”
Speaking of which, I have Scoliosis, and wore a back brace for a few years as an adolescent. (Or didn’t wear it, as my high school friends remind me, since I would wear it to school, take it off and hide it and then put it back on before going home.) I hated it and the unwanted attention it drew. For a kid who’s only goal was to be invisible and get out alive it was a cruel and unusual punishment.
Anyway. At the time, we were attending Grace Assembly of God, and one night a man named Tiff Shuttlesworth (really) came to do a meeting. He was a charismatic, flamboyant speaker, and did ‘healings’ that were ‘miraculous’. Well, I wanted, desperately, to not wear this brace anymore. It was hot, and uncomfortable and provoked a lot of bullying and teasing in school.
All I remember is sitting in the hallway after the service, with a crowd of people around, while this man knelt on the floor and ‘commanded’ my back to be healed. With a shout, he suddenly jerked forward the leg that was shorter so that it lined up with the other foot. And so, I was healed. And everyone rejoiced and went home, and I still wore my brace. (Sometimes.)
This is what I think of every time I go to a session, or an appointment, or a group that has as a goal ‘fixing my erroneous beliefs’ so that other people will feel better, call me healed, and move on to their next project/client/patient.
Because I won’t play this game, the general consensus is that I must really not want to be healed.
The fact is, I have been rejected by my biological father, my husband, and now my therapist, among others, but clearly these are the most damaging. Everything else, I can handle, but these three are huge. I’m not psychotic, mentally ill, or delusional. I’m grieving. I wish with all my heart I were believing a lie, and that I could magically make it all go away by just changing my thinking.
Because, if that were possible, I would be sitting on a beach right now in Florida, with my daughter, and my husband on a much-needed vacation. But, I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting at an old computer, in an apartment full of half-packed boxes, looking desperately for a place to live and a paycheck.
Not exactly a day at the beach.