Healthy Self-Disclosure is Not Selfish

Chaplain Leigh Ann Min
Shelby Baptist Medical Center

"One day, while he [Jesus] was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ " (Luke 5:17-20 NRSV)

One of my colleagues has a saying: healthy self-care is not selfish. He developed this mantra to encourage those of us who serve in helping professions to take care of ourselves. I want to model his mantra, modifying it slightly to say: healthy self-disclosure is not selfish. How would someone know what you are thinking and feeling unless you shared it with them? How would someone know you are in spiritual or emotional pain unless you let that person know? Unlike someone in physical pain where there are usually outward signs of distress, spiritual and emotional pain is not always easily detected.

I encourage us all to disclose what we are thinking and feeling in healthy ways, as a form of healthy self-care. Jesus summarized who we are in relationship to God and what we are to do: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We live out this calling to love God and one another in community by caring for and loving each other physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We present ourselves in a Christ-like manner to one another by listening and sharing our hearts and when we receive and give to each other our pain and sorrows as well as our joys. When we interact with each other in these ways, we are better able to live and work as friends before God.

That is what happened in this Scripture passage. The paralyzed man allowed his friends to care for him and take him to see Jesus where the healing he needed took place. It was their faith (the faith of the friends and perhaps the man) that made them well, said Jesus. Their faith made transparency with each other and trust in God possible. Do we trust God through others? Do we trust ourselves to be transparent enough to get what we need? The paralyzed man trusted his friends to lower him down on a mat from a rooftop. Imagining myself as the paralyzed man, questions creep into my mind: Is the mat strong enough? Are my friends strong enough? Can they lower me down gently without a sudden drop?

To develop trusting friendships takes time, commitment and a willingness to share with others our internal vulnerabilities. It is so much easier to see our outward and physical frailty. Are we willing to present our inward frailty to God and to one another? Are we willing to allow our inner selves to be healed? Healthy self-disclosure is not selfish; it might actually open the door to greater healing and wholeness. Take care of yourselves and each other as we go before God with friends.

Prayer: O Lord, thank you for caring for us before we am able or willing to care for ourselves. Thank you for the gift of true friends who listen to our hearts and share their hearts with us. Thank you for loving us first and empowering us to love in return, in healthy, healing ways. Amen.

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