This column, Barefoot & Preaching, is also published biweekly in print by The Prairie Messenger.

Allowing God to heal us…

Allowing God to heal us…

Photo Credit: Fr. Darryl Millette

Healing was not the invitation I was expecting when I showed up at church several weeks ago. I arrived focused on the harsh words and tone I had exacted on my family in the days before. I want so badly to be kind and patient, loving and gentle. Going to church felt like walking into the brick wall of my own failure. I’ve been walking with God in silence for the better part of two years, so I was surprised by the flood welling high enough in my chest to cut through my guilt: it is time for healing.

I walked out into the sunshine terrified. Pursuing healing feels altogether too out there for me. A quick scan of my journals and archive revealed that I’ve written about stitches and broken toes, but I’m being asked to dig under the metaphors. The present healing is only just beginning so it is nowhere near ready for writing, but the how of healing has been pressing on my ribs, aching for some measure of articulation.

I have been tracing God’s healing in my experience to try to understand healing better and participate in it more fully. And the words have emerged from my fear as both title and guide: allowing God to heal us.

Allowing healing felt like a strange starting place. Sometimes, however, my kids scream out in pain for me to come but then beg me not to touch what hurts. Maybe this healing thing is like that? Resistance is almost always my first defense. What if the healing hurts as much or more than the wound? Denial allows me to pretend there is no wound. Staying busy gives me the illusion that (any possible) wounds aren’t affecting me. Identifying with the wound makes it comfortable and familiar.

Resistance buries wounds and pulls their roots through me. Then on a Saturday afternoon before Sunday church, tired and unsuspecting, I snap over something totally ridiculous and the wound is making itself known in spite of me. At some point, the pain of resisting healing becomes great enough that I become willing to allow healing to happen in me.

God was the next revelation. The One who does this work is not me. No amount of guilt, lecturing, or effort has ever brought about the change I long to see in myself. Sure, I can stop yelling for a couple weeks, but given the right circumstances, my old habits resurface. When I trace real change in my life, I am overwhelmed to see how God has done what I cannot.

To heal us, God is constantly weaving together broken fragments and all things new, across time and space. Every significant healing I have experienced has been wrought together with a beauty and perfection I could not have imagined or anticipated.

Shame can motivate me to set down my resistance, to allow God in, but shame is not the stuff of healing – it is the stuff of hell. God has given me work to do in the history of His healing work in my life, but the work pulls me out of guilt and shame. I have been asked to practice connection in the place of criticism, hope instead of fear, waiting where I would have jumped into action. Over time, sometimes months, and sometimes decades, God has been working healing in me and with me. I know more about this than my fear let me believe.

The guilt and shame I carried into the church did not leave with me. The absence was a reminder for me that I desperately needed. I worship a God who not only knows my pain but shares it, and I believe in a God whose response to human suffering is to suffer with us, alongside us, in order work healing from within. It is a miracle to imagine that my healing, then, might also be God’s. The healing that is coming is not a burden for me to carry, but a path I will walk with Him.

This is how the Creator of all that is draws into the moments that makes up our lives and builds a kingdom that will have no end. Will we allow God to heal us?

Allowing God to heal us…

Healing was not the invitation I was expecting when I showed up at church several weeks ago. I arrived focused on the harsh words and tone I had exacted on my family in the days before. I want so badly to be kind and patient, loving and gentle. Going to church felt like walking into the brick wall of my own failure. I’ve been walking with God in silence for the better part of two years, so I was surprised by the flood welling high enough in my chest to cut through my guilt: it is time for healing.

The problem of unimaginable tragedy…

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Taking what I need when words fail…

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On Being Barefoot…

Before the burning bush, God asks Moses to take off his sandals, to notice and reverence that he walks on holy land. This holy land continues to burn before me, before us, signaling God’s presence before we arrived rather than because we did. This life we are living was holy before we existed in it. This land and creation we call home is the first book of revelation, God’s love letter to us, bearing witness to the Creator of it all.Our lives and the moments that make them up are the stuff of sainthood, our invitations to participate in Divine life to be swallowed up and fulfilled by God. At the grocery store, in the false solitude of our cars and commutes, in our laundry rooms, and over text messages. My shoes run the risk of “protecting” me from the sacredness of this naked moment. And how I love shoes, and how my sensitive toes resist the prickles of grass and the mess of sand. But barefoot is how my spirituality works, daring to live an embodied and earthy love of Jesus who took on flesh. I’m wandering through this life, yearning to let go of my shoes, to walk reverently and with deep attention to what passes under my feet and to what isn’t yet my path. Barefoot is how I write, how I speak, how I work. Experience shored up against an insatiable thirst for knowledge; direct honesty honed by sensitivity; and vulnerability chained to a commitment to competency. And an unapologetically barefoot tendency to speak it as I feel it, which leads me to…

…and Preaching

I’m a preacher without a pulpit, with words that burn until they are spoken ~ aloud or on a page.

My ministry is one of colliding words and ideas, reaching out to find a connection with God’s amazing people.

The world seems to me to be spilling over with grace and we seem to be people who, all too quickly forget that all of this is pure gift.

When I’m driving, eating, visiting, resting, cleaning, working, playing, and almost everything else, I’m frequently stunned by the pure miracle of what simply is.

It’s not all promised joy and ease, but it is all presenced and remembered by the One who gives it. And I can’t stop talking about it, proclaiming it, preaching this good news that we have not been forgotten or forsaken in any moment of this life.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, my words seem to be given to encourage and inspire. In a world where women and girls are still too-often silenced or secondary, I’m barefoot and preaching because my soul won’t rest any other way. If my words can be a gift to you, then that is a gift for me.

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