A Real Friend

Healing Naaman and Me – Part 7

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. – 2 Kings 5:13-14

So Naaman’s mad. And headed back home. Back to status quo.

Going back home and bathing in his homeland’s rivers – even if he had to do it seventy times – would be more comfortable than bathing in a new river, in a foreign land, and exposing himself to strangers.

But Naaman’s servants caught up with him. Other translations use the words ‘came near’. We all need friends who aren’t afraid to come near, to get close to us when we’re behaving badly. When we’re overreacting. When we’re making decisions based on our emotions.

And notice that Naaman’s servants called him Father. To me that shows they cared about him. And he cared about them. He wasn’t just their boss, he was their friend. There was a loving, caring relationship between them, and they really wanted him to be healed. They wanted it badly enough to risk confronting him in his anger.

Now that takes a real friend.

We all need friends like that when we’re on our journey to healing and recovery. I didn’t have one when I started out . . . unless you count the therapist that sent me to the CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) meetings! But I found one at those meetings. When we met, we immediately clicked. We had a lot in common. We were in similar situations. And we discovered we both liked to walk. So we started walking together at least once a week.

On those walks, we would share what was going on in our lives. That first year, things didn’t go well for either one of us. There were some really dark times. But for the first time in my life, I was willing to open up and share what I was really going through with another human being. That, in itself, was very healing.

We encouraged each other to keep going when things got tough. We reminded each other to speak up for ourselves and do what’s right instead of continuing to enable the dysfunction in our situations.

It took a lot of walks, a lot of miles, a lot of talking, but eventually our lives turned around. Our situations changed. We gained a healthy perspective about our lives up to that point. Our self-image and self-esteem grew and blossomed and we became women who knew their value.

We’re still good friends and we still go on long hikes and talk about what’s going on in our lives. We even remained close while I lived over a thousand miles away for six years. There’s a bond between us that can’t be broken. We went through Hell together. That kind of relationship can’t be replaced.

As you recall, Naaman had expected a big production and an immediate healing. That’s typically what we want to happen, isn’t it. I know I did. I wanted the people who were causing me so much grief to realize the error of their ways, repent, tell everyone involved they had been wrong, and get help for their issues.

Needless to say, it didn’t happen that way.

And I’m so glad it didn’t.

The healing and recovery process is rarely instantaneous. There are times when God does heal a situation or an issue in our lives immediately and we don’t have to deal with it again. But I believe those times are the exception, not the rule.

I believe that most of the time we have to take the long road to healing and recovery. We have to deal head-on with our issues. We have to learn to live with and around people who aren’t dealing with theirs. We have to take responsibility for what we’re responsible for. And stop taking responsibility when we’re not. And that’s a lot easier said than done.

Naaman’s servants asked him a very interesting question. If Elisha had told him to do some grand deed in order to be healed, would he have done it?

Naaman was used to doing grand deeds. He was a war hero. He was a valiant soldier. Give him a village to conquer and he would get it done. Give him a hometown to defend against an attack and it would be saved. Tell him to go conquer a neighboring country in order to be healed, and he’d be on it like white on rice.

But to have to humble himself, to keep going further out of his comfort zone, to reveal his weakness to total strangers, to consistently take small steps over and over again . . . that was just asking too much.

His servants . . . his real friends . . . helped him put the situation in perspective. And Naaman calmed down long enough to realize it was worth a try.

My friend and I took many steps . . . literally and figuratively . . . on our journey. Sometimes it was 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, but we consistently took the next step, were honest with each other, and encouraged each other along the way. That’s what brings healing and recovery: taking small healthy steps consistently until eventually it becomes the norm in your life.

That’s what Naaman had to do.

I love that it says he ‘went down’ because in order to heal and recover we have to be humble. If the circumstances your issues created haven’t humbled you enough, the journey to healing and recovery will . . . if you stick with it.

Elisha told Naaman to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wear clothes when I take a bath. I don’t think Naaman did either.

Taking off anything that’s covering up the real us is an absolute necessity of the healing and recovery process. We have to be honest—with ourselves and with others. We have to expose our real selves (get naked!), humble ourselves (‘go down’), and take the next step . . . bathe ourselves in the truth . . . as many times as it takes in order to heal.

After Naaman dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, it says his flesh was restored. In fact, it says it was clean like that of a young boy. His skin wasn’t just healed of leprosy, it was given a fresh start!

That’s how I felt several months into my healing and recovery process . . . like a totally different person . . . like a “new me”! That’s because I was a different person. But it had taken time and persistence and commitment.

Surrounding ourselves with at least one friend who really cares about us and encourages us to stay committed to our healing and recovery process will make the journey a little easier.

Then one day we’ll be able to return the favor by being that kind of friend to someone we love who’s struggling. As a healthier, more functional person, we’ll no longer be afraid to be lovingly honest with ourselves and with others.

And that is worth taking a million steps!

© Rhonda Fleming, 2013

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