There is a story in the Bible about a man lying by a pool who had been crippled for 38 years. Jesus walks up to the situation and knows the man has been crippled for a long time and asks him “Do you want to get well?”. You may not read things like this as I do, but on the surface, this seems like a ridiculous question. If someone has been crippled for 38 years, you assume they want to get well. What I have found is that most people want to get better, but not everyone wants to get well. Better means we do not have to deal with the symptoms or side effects. Well means we go through a process that brings significant change.
Everyone has some area where they need help. Some place that is out of sorts and is not quite well. Some of these things have troubled us for years but we have never taken the steps to deal with them. Most of our problems today are the same problems we have always had. We have disguised them or learned to work around them, but we have never taken the steps to get well. Why would we resist getting well? I think all of us have moments where we want better, and we may even consider the benefits of getting well, but we just stop short of following through. There are a lot of reasons why people choose not to get well, but here are four common ones that challenge all of us.
Any habit or problem that we are trying to overcome will require discipline. Lack of discipline causes us problems in a lot of areas, but being extremely intentional when we are trying to overcome something in our lives is of utmost importance. Discipline requires us to do the things we need to do when we need to do them even when it is inconvenient. Some areas of discipline come naturally while others have to be forced, at least for a while. Most likely the area in your life that needs the most attention is an area where natural discipline does not happen. Discipline is work and most of us are not looking for another job, so we continue to drag the broken part of our life along with us making the best of things hoping that we can overcome whatever is hurting us.
Getting well requires change. Most of the problems we are dealing with could be addressed with a few changes. We want our body to get well and often eating right, getting rest and exercising can solve a majority of those problems. We need our marriage to get well and just a couple of changes would make a drastic difference. Our problem is that our brain resists change because it programs itself to do things without using a lot of energy. We call these habits. Our natural tendency is to resist change. Even if the change is for the better we struggle to make those changes. Add to that the discipline that is required and some changes we just ignore. The only time people like change is when there are high benefits and low pain. Change is a necessary part of getting well.
No matter how bad things are, losing something is painful. It is the reason why people stay in abusive relationships. Losing anything, even when we will be better off, causes some amount of pain, or at least the fear of pain. The crippled man in the story would have lost his place among his friends. He would have lost his excuse for not doing certain things in his life. He possibly would have lost his identity. We fear if we move in the direction of getting well that we will lose things like relationships or influence or pity. Maybe this is true, but the things that getting well will bring into your life will be much better if you are willing to walk through the process.
There were very few expectations of that crippled man. Most people had pity or sympathy. But the minute he could walk, there were expectations of him. He no longer had the same excuse. Some of our fear is that if we get well people are going to expect more from us. We like having an excuse or a built-in “out”. We often enjoy the pity or the attention that certain problems bring. If we get well, how will people respond if I am no longer the victim? Therefore, we just hold on to the pain and love a broken life.
I am sure you want to get better. What you really need is to get well. Well will bring the wholeness you desire and allow you to live the life you were created to live. Don’t allow an excuse to keep you from making the move you need to make.
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