Healing is Choice: The First Step is to Connect
- Steve Arterburn Author and Chairman of New Life Clinics
- 2005 30 Sep
Have you made the healing choice to connect? Could the lack of connection or the superficiality of your connection be keeping you from the healing God has in store for you? If so, there is so much hope for you.
I’ve met many desperate singles that were desperate and single because they’d never made the effort to learn to connect, and many who’d learned to connect, but only sexually. I’ve worked with many stable and satisfied married couples that didn’t know what they were missing. Their marriages were stable, convenient, and functional, but there was no rich intimacy because there was no deep connection. Connection is the first choice to make in the healing process.
Tough Requirements Of Connection
The requirements of connection are tough for many of us. Not impossible, just tough. Those requirements include the humility to lay down misguided notions of entitlement, the courage to become vulnerable to potential rejection, and the perseverance to work through the conflicts that all vibrant relationships inevitably encounter.
But more than anything else, connection requires love—love for God even though He didn’t prevent pain and tragedy; love for others as God would love you; and love for yourself because you’re God’s valued creation. These requirements mean grieving the loss of some dreams, accepting the reality of what is instead of what should be, and moving toward others in spite of our pain and disappointment.
The Big Lie
Our tendency is to do anything but connect. We tend to isolate and we do it in some very subtle ways. For instance, creating boundaries help people establish healthy relationships and teach them effective responses when someone inappropriately crosses them. This is extremely meaningful to victims of abuse or people with so little self-esteem that they don’t know when to say no. But for every good and solid use of a boundary, there’s a misuse of the concept that allows some people to remain disconnected.
The most common of all the lies that prevent people from connecting with others or allow them to stay disconnected is the lie, “All I need is God and no one else.” The “only God” lie is actually a form of denial. It allows a person to acknowledge that there’s something in their life that needs attention, but denies that the problem requires the attention of others. In other words, it permits the recognition of smoke, but balks at the notion of an actual fire. This form of denial expects God to meet every need and heal every pain. But it doesn’t happen, because that’s not God’s plan. His plan is for us to connect with each other to facilitate healing in our lives.
The Rewards of Connecting
There’s a sense of safety and control in isolation and disconnection, but it’s a false sense of safety. In fact, living lonely is anything but safe. It’s a dangerous way to live because it allows you to miss real life and real people and all the benefits and rewards that go with growing relationships.
When you decide to connect, you live life as God intended it. Although you might be uncomfortable, you start to come alive as you seek deeper levels of connection with those around you. You also experience God’s love at a deeper level, because God loves us through others. As you begin to connect with others, those people become expressions of His love with skin on.
Furthermore, connection allows you to experience God’s tempering. He uses others to mold us into the people He wants us to be. In isolation our character has little chance to grow. But connection offers us the opportunity to put ourselves aside for someone else and grow closer to the image of God. Finally, connection allows us to feel accepted. We fear rejection and we might experience it, but if we continue to risk in our connections, we’ll one day find acceptance and validation. This is healing to the soul in a way we’d never know if we stayed alone.
Concluding Thoughts On Connections
The choice to heal through connections starts with our connection with God. As we live more for Him and live more to please Him, we experience a growing awareness of His presence and an intimate connection that takes us through the toughest of times with hope and the best of times with divine joy.
Connection with God is vital to our healing, but it’s not enough. We must branch out from the “God only” mentality and reach out to others. In humility we can begin a new level of connection essential to the healing process. Go no further before you stop and connect with God. Then take the healing risk and connect with others who can help you heal and experience life to the fullest.
The above piece is an adaptation from Healing Is A Choice: Ten Decisions That Will Transform Your Life & Ten Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them, by Steve Arterburn. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2005.
Stephen Arterburn is the founder of New Life Clinics, the largest provider of Christian counseling and treatment in North America. As host of the daily New Life Live! radio program, he is heard nationally on over one hundred and eighty stations and at www.newlife.com. Steve is the creator of the Women of Faith® Conferences and is the author/coauthor of over thirty books, including Healing is a Choice, Lose it For Life, The God of Second Chances, Every Man’s Battle, and Avoiding Mr. Wrong.