I Have to do What?!?

Healing Naaman and Me – Part 6

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.  Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. – 2 Kings 5:11-12

Naaman had different expectations as to how his healing would take place. And unmet expectations can lead to disappointment and anger. Naaman displayed both.

When we start to realize the extent of the work we need to do on our journey toward healing and recovery, we can get very angry. In the beginning we naively think it will be a simple process.

Naaman thought the prophet would come see him in person, stand there and call on God, wave his hand over the spot and cure him. Just like that! Seemed simple enough.

Now Naaman is receiving instructions from the prophet’s servant! Not what Naaman is used to in his position. And the instructions are placing all the work for healing on Naaman. He thought the prophet was going to heal him! And this work he’s being required to do in order to be healed is going to take him even further out of his comfort zone.

Why couldn’t the prophet just do it the simple way?

This healing was turning into a process. A process where Naaman is doing all the work. And he’s having to go further out of his comfort zone. And it’s taking a lot longer than he believed necessary.

Naaman wasn’t sure it was worth it!

And neither was I.

I remember the first time I heard the word co-dependency. It came from the lips of a therapist. I was in her office because my life was falling apart. I was in my mid 40’s and as hard as I tried, I could not get the people in my life to behave. They were continually making decisions that made my life miserable.

If they would just do what’s right, I would be fine. At least that’s what I thought. And that’s what I told the therapist.

She asked me a few questions about how I felt about certain things in my life. I had a hard time answering them . . . because I wasn’t sure how I felt about anything. I was pretty sure I knew how my friends and loved ones felt about things. I could definitely tell her that. But I had a hard time defining my own feelings.

She told me I was co-dependent and recommended a Co-Dependants Anonymous (CoDA) 12-step group close to my home.

Well, that wasn’t exactly how I thought she would handle the situation! I really expected her to bring my loved ones into the room, tell them how they needed to change their behavior, and then everything would be fine.

Now she was telling me that I had to do the work, and I had to go way out of my comfort zone to do it, and it was starting to look like this process was going to take longer than I had expected.

And just like Naaman, I got angry.

I wasn’t the one making all these poor decisions that were complicating my life. Right? I was the sane one, wasn’t I? How would me working on my ‘stuff’ have any effect on the decisions my loved ones were making? They were the ones with the problems, not me!

I wasn’t sure I believed what the therapist said. And I definitely didn’t want to go to a 12-step meeting. Those were for people with real problems . . . like addictions. Shouldn’t I just stay home and spend more time telling my loved ones how they needed to change? Maybe if I just tried a little harder things would get better.

Naaman wasn’t sure he believed what the prophet’s servant had told him. And he definitely wasn’t sure he wanted to go wash himself in a river in Israel. Maybe he should just go back to his own country and wash himself in one of its rivers, like he had been doing. Maybe he just hadn’t done it enough. Maybe seven times was the key.

At this point Naaman and I are both tempted to go back into our cycles of insanity. Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And Naaman and I both get angry. Anger is one of the major emotions we have to deal with on our journey toward healing. We all usually have a preconceived idea of how it should work and it rarely, if ever, happens that way. So we end up with unmet expectations which can translate into disappointment and anger.

And when we get disappointed and angry we start to question everything instead of just taking the next step. We start to blame other people’s actions and lack of action for our anger. And we think that maybe we just need to keep trying . . . just a little harder.

Unfortunately a lot of people spend their entire lives right here. They keep trying harder and harder, tweaking things just a little, and expecting that one day things are going to be different. They don’t have the courage it takes to take the first step on their journey . . . to do something different.

I’m not sure where my courage came from. Maybe things got so bad that trying anything different had to be better than what I was experiencing. Maybe it was the encouragement of the therapist . . . or the encouragement of my daughter. I’m not sure what it was, but I’m sure glad it happened.

There’s something else in this passage that I want to mention.

I used to wonder why Elisha sent his servant out to give Naaman directions for his healing. I mean, he could have come out himself and told him. But I think I understand now.

I think Elisha did it for two reasons. I think one reason was to humble Naaman. As we learned in the first couple of verses, Naaman was a very prominent person in his country. One who was used to the best. He had a personal relationship with his king. He was famous. And he was used to dealing with other prominent people.

The fact that Elisha didn’t come out to personally deliver the message probably injured Naaman’s ego. But I also think that it possibly helped jumpstart his journey.

I’ve heard all my life that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. In other words, everyone who comes to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins has to humble themselves at His feet. We’re all equal there. No matter who we are.

The same is true in the healing and recovery process. The billionaire CEO addicted to porn is no better . . . and no better off . . . than the Skid Row meth addict . . . or the Christian lady with a shopping addiction!

Everyone who takes the journey toward healing and recovery starts at the very bottom. We have to realize who we are and what we’ve done and that we’re at the very beginning point. No one gets a head start. No matter who they are.

And I believe Elisha knew Naaman needed to learn that.

The other reason I believe he sent his servant to Naaman was so no one would give Elisha credit for the healing. Elisha wanted to be sure God received all the credit.

I think when we are someone’s Elisha we need to be sure we don’t take any credit for their healing. We can give someone direction. We can share with them about our journey and give them good counsel. But we can’t heal them. And we need to be sure we don’t give them the impression that it has anything to do with us.

I’m so thankful for my Elisha’s and their counsel along the way. And I’m very thankful I got over my disappointment and anger long enough to start my journey.

But most of all I’m thankful to God for the healing He has provided as I’ve cooperated with Him along the way. And for this example of Naaman that He shares with us here.

Let’s see what Naaman’s going to do . . .

© Rhonda Fleming, 2013

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