New Year, Healed Me
By Miriam Samuelson-Roberts
Day 1 of 5: New Year, New Me
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the Lord.
Around the New Year, as I glance at magazines in my doctor’s office or in grocery store aisles, I notice one prominent theme: new year, new you. The logical part of my brain that’s into body positivity and smashing oppressive patriarchal ideals of what bodies should look like glances and looks away, but I’ll sheepishly admit that there is some allure to being, well, new.
I admit this sheepishly because it’s literally the opposite of what I preach week after week as a pastor. I tell people, Look, you are fine exactly the way you are. You are valued, and you are loved. And because you know you are loved, you can go out and get to work in the world uplifting values, systems, and structures that help others know they are loved; all the while, dismantling what doesn’t reflect that love. At the core of all of this is the fact that God loves you with no strings attached.
So even though that’s what I preach and do ultimately believe, there are so few spaces that I actually get that message in my life. The messages I most often hear, or at least the ones I tend to hold onto, are: You are not ever going to be good enough, or busy enough, or efficient enough, or have it together enough (By the way, here are some things you can buy to make those things magically happen).
There is a therapist in my community who asks people: “What does your healed self look like?” Not your new-and-improved self. Not your self who strives to be someone they aren’t. But your healed self.
If you have one of those Bibles that has the titles of each story as you flip through the pages, pick any gospel—especially Matthew, Mark, and Luke: the Synoptic Gospels that all tell similar stories—and look at the story titles. So many of them start with “Jesus Heals.” This was one of the main things that Jesus’ ministry was about. And you know what almost all these stories have in common? After the person was healed, they could connect with the community. Jesus heals people with leprosy not because he thinks people with leprosy are bad and need to be changed; he heals them because society wouldn’t allow them to come near, and he wants people to be able to live in community together.
So this new year, instead of making a resolution for self-improvement, sit with my therapist friend’s question. What does your healed self look like? Not a new self, not a better self, but a healed self. Take some time to live into that idea, breathe into your body as it is here and now, and connect with what healing feels like in your body and your soul. You are beautiful, and sacred, and loved exactly as you are. Let the healing power of that love flow over you, and in you, and around you. You are, and always will be, enough.