July 12, 2011 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Creating Our Own Center of Wellness"The biggest barrier for any individual, couple, family or organization in receiving help is admitting that there is a problem in the first place. It is the nature of people and of organizations to pretend that everything is “fine” even when it is apparent to most everyone else that things are anything but “fine.” All of us have done some version of this at one time or another in our lives. We have resisted seeking help because we did want to acknowledge that there was a problem in the first place. Later, when we finally received the help we needed, we may have wondered why we waited so long.
Betty Ford passed away last week at the age of ninety-three. She, perhaps more than anyone else from her generation, served as an inspiring example of the healing that can happen when a person has the courage to acknowledge that she or he has a problem and needs help. When Betty Ford went into recovery for her addiction to alcohol and prescription medication she started a recovery process that would not only change her life forever, but would also change the lives of more than ninety-seven thousand other people who have been helped by the treatment and recovery programs at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California.
A few years before her recovery from alcohol and prescription drugs, Betty Ford had also courageously faced and talked about her experience with breast cancer. With both her cancer and addiction issues, she modeled the transparency and vulnerability that is needed for a person to fully recover and heal. Here is a quote from the Betty Ford Center's website: “Betty Ford's courage to speak out on Breast Cancer and Addictive Disease forever changed how these conditions are viewed. She promoted the importance of treatment and access to care for all.”
There are at least two lessons we can learn from Betty Ford's life when it comes to wellness. The first lesson is that the most important, and often the hardest, step in any healing process is the ability to face the truth of what is happening--to face the truth of what is not working, of what needs to be healed. Until we do this, nothing else can happen. In my work as a pastor and psychotherapist I can safely say that I have not ever been able to help a person or family heal who was not ready to acknowledge their need for healing.
The second lesson I take from Mrs. Ford's life is that we never know how many other lives we will positively influence when we make the courageous choice to heal ourselves. When you and I work to heal an emotional or spiritual hurt in ourselves, in our marriage, family or friendships, there is no way for us to know at that time who else we will be positively influence by our choices. When we seek healing for ourselves, we can be sure that others will be positively effected by our courageous decision. We may not start a wellness center in our name for thousands of people to come to, but we will be creating a “center of wellness” in our little corner of the world that will surely radiate out to others to whom we know and love. In last week's column I wrote about how the “truth can make you free.” It can indeed, and it can help make others around you free as well.
Thank you Betty Ford for modeling for us the path to healing and recovery. May we have the courage to follow in your footsteps when we find ourselves in need of healing.
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