I’ve been on a path of personal healing for a long time (probably like you). Physically, I have had acid reflux for over 3 years now, which has launched me into new and unprecedented explorations of healing. Mentally and emotionally, my healing journey has been much longer, dating back to my days of depression in my teens and 20’s.
Even though I’ve come a long way, I still find myself hopeful of a cure. We all look for the quickest, easiest way to feel better, on any level. Of course we would prefer instant well-being – who wouldn’t?
But I have also reflected on the difference between what it is to heal vs. what it is to cure. It’s a big difference, and worth considering as you follow your own path of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
What is Curing?
The Oxford dictionaries offer these definitions of to cure: Relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition; Eliminate (a disease or condition) with medical treatment; Solve (a problem).
Relieve, Eliminate, and Solve – all positive and hopeful when we look at disease or despair. We want to be relieved of our pain and suffering. We’d like our problems to be solved, even obliterated.
But I also run into some issues with the word cure, at least in how we use it. We’re often “looking for a cure” or want to “be cured”. That implies something or someone outside of us. When we want to be cured, we’re buying into the belief that we don’t have what we need within us to recover; or worse yet, that we’re the problem to be solved. As if there is something wrong with us, rather than a condition that we’re temporarily experiencing.
An End Point, or a Process?
The other part of the definition of cure that bugs me is the suggestion that one minute you’re sick, and the next you’re cured. It’s over. The end.
What is wrong with that, you might say? Don’t you want the disease to end? Absolutely. But we all know that, almost always, getting well or becoming the best we can be in life doesn’t happen like flipping a light switch. One day you’re off, the next day you’re on, and that’s that. No, even when given a “cure”, there is a period of time needed for the cure to work.
You might be cured of symptoms or a problem, but healing is a process – a very special process – that takes you on a much deeper journey. Let’s take a look at what healing truly means.
Definition of “To Heal”
When we consider the definition of healing, in contrast, we find some other implications. To Heal is to “restore to health” or “become sound or healthy again”. Again. That means that our original state is health and well-being. It’s something we innately have. Healing acknowledges that legacy – that we are already sound and whole, but need to find our way back to that.
Another interesting meaning of healing from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is to “restore to original purity or integrity”. This implies something more profound than physical or even emotional health, but returning us to our true nature, which is untainted. We are already pure essence – we originated in that. Healing is the process by which we rediscover that essence within us; as a result, the body and heart become sound and whole again.
It’s Within Us
This means that it isn’t outside of us – it’s within us. When you undergo healing, even though you may be taking medicine or being treated by someone else, it is your body and your Spirit that are doing the healing, with the assistance of herbs or support by another. Yes, you could look at it as someone else “healing” you. But the body has its own system of healing built in, through the immune system and the many processes within you to remove damaged cells and replace them with healthy ones. It simply needs that process kick-started or bolstered in order to do its job. The body wouldn’t heal by the external substances alone – its own natural healing capacity works synergistically with whatever or whoever is offering the healing.
I believe in and have experienced the same with mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. We already have what we need within – the ability to be aware, to change, to transform, to love ourselves, to forgive – in order to heal a broken heart or spirit. Sometimes, we are in need of someone else or something else, whether a book or program to listen to or a counselor or coach, to help us find those amazing parts of ourselves. Once we do, the healing happens within us, through us, by us. No one can do it for us.
You’re Empowered to Heal
When you’re looking for a cure, or someone to cure you, you’re not only looking outside yourself, but you’re giving away your power. It is really that medicine, that doctor, that therapist, this is responsible for returning you to health? Or was it your willingness to seek out treatment, to open yourself to new possibilities, to undergo the challenges of change, to step out of your comfort zone, or to discipline yourself to change your diet or your thoughts that brought about the change? Probably a bit of both, but without the power within you, the “cures” wouldn’t have an effect.
Healing, although it can be assisted by herbs, medication, or lifestyle changes, comes from within you. Your body, heart, mind and spirit are designed to be able to heal, from your built-in immune system to the capacity of your mind to change your thoughts and the ability of the heart to love again, even after heartbreak.
You can look outside for a cure, but when you look to heal, you’re looking both outside and within. You are in partnership with whatever and whoever you find to help you recover your health. Healing is claiming your power in your life, by recognizing that it comes from within you – body, heart, mind, and spirit. Being cured is relieving and freeing, but healing is that plus deeply transforming.
True healing – and an effective healer – spark than innate gift of your ability to return to well-being and happiness. Your natural state is that of love, harmony, health, and ease, but we lost our balance and our way in the distractions and upsets of life. All we need is a guide to set us back on our natural course of well-being.
Are You A Problem to Be Fixed?
Curing looks at a problem – a disease, an issue – and tries to fix it. The essence of curing someone or yourself is the idea that there’s something wrong and we need to make it go away. Everyone would love a magic pill to cure us of weight problems, smoking, depression – and drug companies have enticed us with this attractive idea. But the truth is that the cravings still exist, and the root cause of the sadness won’t magically go away. Many people who have sought this kind of cure have only experienced limited success.
Are you really a problem to be fixed? Is there something “wrong” with your body? Can you flip a switch and make everything in your life all better? We know the answer. Which is why I am oriented personally and professionally towards the concept of healing, rather than curing.
A Journey, Not a Destination
In contrast to curing, which indicates a final result and you’re “done”, healing is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s not always easy (although it doesn’t have to be extremely difficult, either), and frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Did you ever read the Odyssey, by Homer, in high school or college? To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of details of the book. What I do remember is that Odysseus went through a very long, challenging (and exciting!) journey in order to finally return home. What’s the point of going through all that (and reading all those hundreds of pages)? Because through his journey and all the trials and tribulations he overcame, he transformed, from a prideful leader into a wise and prudent king.
The process of healing not only remedies whatever malady we have struggled with; it awakens aspects of ourselves that would have otherwise lain dormant. We become more patient, courageous, compassionate, or faithful. Each healing journey is unique, and offers us unique gifts. We have an opportunity to learn and grow through healing. Although a quick cure would be easier and more immediate, we’d miss out on the rich rewards of the healing journey.
Healing is a process designed to carry you through the long haul. A cure is specific to a malady; healing is universal. When you heal, you retain the knowledge, in the cells of your body as well as your mind, that you have gone through a healing process. It’s an inner-knowing that you can access again and again to support you at any point in your life that you might need it. You’ll know you have what you need within you when you’ve allowed yourself to consciously embark upon a healing journey. Healing sustains you through the ups and downs of life.
Even if it has taken a long time, trust in your healing journey. It’s taking you to places of empowerment, authenticity, insight, and awareness that you would never have experienced before.
Copyright ©2018 by Rev. Connie L. Habash
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