Spiritual Growth: The Healing Process


monarch butterfly in child's handThis is a reflection I wrote after viewing Spiritual Growth in Tough Times which centers around the healing process.

Sister Joyce Rupp discusses the process of healing with the analogy of the seasons. We all want to live in the spring and summers of our lives but we have to live through the difficulties of the fall and the darkness of the winter to get there. When we have been through darkness, pain, loss or grief often times we believe it will all just fade quickly and life will be back to “normal” once more.  Many of us do not realize there is a process we must first go through before we are healed and that in many cases “normal” will have changed forever, especially in the case of losing a loved one.

The first part of this journey is the wait. In our culture, we detest the wait. We don’t want to wait in lines, for food, for the future or for normalcy. We want what we want when we want it, and that is NOW. However, we must wait and embrace the waiting. Sr. Rupp uses the idea of seeds and how they need to be in the dark soil alone to break open before they can begin to grow. None of us likes the idea of being alone in the dark, breaking open and becoming vulnerable. We need patience and trust that we will heal but first we must experience the darkness. She refers to a story about a butterfly. Before the butterfly bursts forth he asks God “How much longer do I have to stay in the dark?” God’s response is “Don’t forget in the light what I taught you in the dark.” So many times when we have emerged from the long, lonely darkness we never want to revisit it or remember it because of the pain. But it is in the pain and darkness that we learn to trust completely in God. We should not forget the lessons we learn there.

The second part is watching. We need to be aware of what we are feeling and own it. Whether it is anger, self pity, sadness or despair, we need to understand those emotions. We also need to talk about the feelings. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus allows the disciple to tell the story to Him. In telling the story a sort of healing takes place. We need to talk about the pain.

The third part of the healing is work. We need to begin the motion with compassion towards ourselves. Instead of feeling like we are doing it wrong or taking too long and comparing ourselves to others, we need to love ourselves and let things happen. We need to find forgiveness. We need to give it and receive it. Then we need to let go of the things that will hold us back from the growth. We need to let go of old dreams that stagger our growth. We need to let go of the belief that “normal” will return and instead accept the growth and our new normal.

The last part Sr. Rupp talks about is never giving up. So many times we near the end of the growth; we suffer through the pain, we witness the changes, we work through talking to others and becoming more compassionate and we accept the forgiveness, but by that time we are exhausted and decide it’s just not worth the time it takes. It is then that winter has almost ended and spring is on the verge of beginning. Don’t ever give up! That is the time when we are to remember what God said to the butterfly “Don’t forget in the light what I have taught you in the darkness”. Never forget the trust and patience we put in God’s hands. We will heal and there will be life again. We just need to accept that it is a process but in the end there will be growth, new life, and spring once more.


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  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    This is a great article. Thanks. The messages of self-love, perseverance and believe that good times will return is encouraging, but…

    Recently in hospital I see a new born baby, who has a fatal disorder and will die soon. The child screams in pain all the time and doctors are planning major surgery to prolong the life of pain of this child, whose family is wonderful, being with it constantly, and have pinned a photo of P II on the baby’s cot.

    Is God being unfair and cruel?

    I think of the words of John H Newman that God has a plan for each of us, which we may never know in this life. Pride is a sin and our first parents wanted to be like God, knowing good from evil. It is not our job. Perhaps all we can do is hang on and believe “all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well”. (Julian of Norwich). Perhaps behind all the pain, and the possibility of hell at the end, there is a good God.