Saturday, July 29, 2017

Healing from Within: Turning Away from Toxicity

"Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." - Colossians 3:2

What if I were to tell you that there is a way to start healing your body immediately, without any drugs or special diets? Would you try it?

There isn’t anyone I know, especially within the chronic illness community, who wouldn't say yes. We are all longing for something to make us feel better.

The burden of chronic illness is not apparent to those outside of our world. We may look fine on the outside, and may even be able to perform our daily activities as if we were not ill. But those of us who have lived with illness day after day, year after year, know the burdens we carry. They are not light. There is a heaviness in our hearts, knowing that we will never get well.

As our symptoms come and go, and the bottles of medicines stack up on our nightstands, we are reminded that we are not like other people. We hesitate to make plans in advance, for we don’t know how we will feel that day. We cancel lunches with friends we love because they’ve come down with a bad cold, and if we catch it, that may take us down a path we can’t recover from.

We watch what we eat, we do the exercises that are prescribed, we get stuck with needles on a regular basis, and we go to countless doctor visits. Sometimes it feels like all we have time for is tending to our health. It’s draining.

What I’ve recently realized, however, is that there’s something that can make us feel even worse: toxic thinking. That can take a variety of forms, from self-pity to anger at family members who just don’t “get” that you’re really sick. One particular topic that has been top-of-mind and become quite toxic for me, however, is politics. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed discussing and debating, but lately, not so much. And while you may not think it’s relevant to this blog, read on.

Three months into the new year, I began having chronic migraines, the kind that were so severe that I was calling my neurologist from my vacation in New York City to beg for something that would enable me to function. Three months after that, I came down with shingles.

It was no surprise that the first words out of my doctor’s mouth were a question: “What is stressing you out?” I told her I didn’t know. I have a busy life, with an almost-13-year-old, and juggle my role as wife and mother with numerous deadlines as a freelance writer. But none of that is really new.

The truth is, I knew deep down exactly what was causing my stress: politics. And now that stress was manifesting itself as physical illnesses of all kinds. My RA flared up. My migraines came back in force. Shingles erupted. Even my psoriasis returned.

Before you ask, let me tell you that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I’ve not been stressed because the “other” party won the White house. Nor have I been stressed over mainstream media coverage of “my” president. No, I am an Independent. And that, friends, has been the most stressful position of all: watching from the sidelines as I have seen people on both sides of the political spectrum tear each other apart. I have even seen politics dividing the church. My heart is grieved to see so many people, on all sides, hurting so deeply and expressing such anger and bitterness. It feels sometimes as if I am sitting in the middle of a civil war battlefield, bullets flying over my head in both directions. And occasionally, one hits me!

Some of these issues are deeply personal to me. Had my adopted daughter’s birthmother chosen abortion during her pregnancy, I would not have the wonderful child I am raising today. I am a small business owner, and so issues of the economy and taxation matter. As a Christian, I want my religious freedoms protected, but I also care about the civil rights of my Muslim friends. And obviously, as someone who has multiple chronic illnesses to manage, I care about what happens in the healthcare debate. There are no easy answers to any of it.

How we respond to political issues, however, makes a big difference. In today’s political climate, people don’t just cling to their ideals, they fight for them – and not always in a nice way. The ugliness I have seen and heard from both sides of the political spectrum is unprecedented and extreme. And it’s hard to get away from it. I try to stay up-to-date on current events, but every time I turn on the TV, read the paper, or even open Twitter or Facebook, there it is. The gladiator battle rages on, bloody as ever, right in front of me, every single day.

This past week, however, something changed. I went out of town to my father’s hometown in rural Louisiana. There, the restaurants don’t have CNN or FOX News playing on flat screens above the bar. They have hunting trophies and fishing gear on the walls and people talk to each other as they eat, rather than staring at their cell phones. My cousin, who I was visiting, doesn’t even own a computer or a smartphone. He says life is simpler that way. And you know what? He’s right.

After three days of walking in the woods, meeting and greeting friendly town folk, eating cupcakes and drinking coffee in little cafes, and staying away from the national news, something happened. My body began to relax. My psoriasis started going away. Suddenly, I didn’t just feel happier. I felt healthier.

I have often said that the Bible contains useful instruction because while we may think we know what’s good for us, God is our creator and so he truly knows what is best for us. So it is no surprise, then, that in Proverbs, it says “As a man thinketh, he is…” and we are encouraged in the New Testament to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Some of the most wonderful people I know are also the most disabled. What shines in them is their outlook on life. While their situations may be truly awful, they choose to focus their minds on what is good.

Instead of complaining, they find something to be grateful for, whether it is their new wheelchair or their loving support group. While others are angrily shouting their displeasure about what the government’s healthcare policies are (or aren’t), these serene beacons of light to the chronically ill world are sharing stories of how they worked through their country’s imperfect healthcare programs to find the care they needed. They haven’t focused on the government as their sole source of help; instead, they have chosen to trust God as the one they depend on.

In America, one of the hottest political debates is over healthcare…specifically the ACA, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” While some feel overwhelmed and overburdened by insurance premiums and deductibles that have skyrocketed under the ACA, others feel their lives depend on the insurance coverage they otherwise wouldn’t have because of having pre-existing conditions. You know what? God cares about both groups. While our politicians don’t have the answers, He does.

In Exodus, the Israelites weren’t sure how they were going to escape from the Egyptian army as they were being chased across the desert with Moses and were approaching the Red Sea. Moses knew, however, that God was bigger, and trusted His plan. Instead of worrying and fretting (or freaking out, which I am sure there were many people doing), he ignored the people who said “Just go back to Egypt! Better that we be slaves than to die!” and followed God’s direction. Voila! The Red Sea parted, they went right across, and when they were safely on the other side, the sea closed up again.

How often do we look to other humans or human institutions to save us, when we already have God by our side? How often do we worry and fret, freak out, and attack other people who don’t see things our way, when God is the only one who really knows the right way to go? And how often does all that emotional and mental turmoil make us sicker than we already are?

Colossians 3:2 exhorts us to set our minds on things above, rather than on earthly things. Philippians 4:8 gets even more specific, saying “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Friend, if I were to tell you a way to start healing your body immediately, would you try it? Yes? Well here it is!

Turn off your television and set your mind on things above the political noise and earthly worries of the day. There is still good in the world and so much to be grateful for. Do not let petty things or political differences steal your joy or come between you and a loved one. God is still on His throne. Trust Him. Focus on His amazing love for you, his beautiful creation all around you, and any good and admirable thing that you can find in your friends and neighbors.

Yes, you can start healing today. It begins from within.

Peace, love and joy to you today.


Healing from Within: Turning Away from Toxicity originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on Facebook. 

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' Thoughtful Thursday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. I also link up often with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.


  1. Such beautiful and insightful wisdom here, Linda! Thanks so much for sharing. The Philippians verse is probably one of my favorite bible verses, if not the favorite. I find I have to tell it to myself often as I have seen the horrible effects of my toxic thinking on me, my relationships, and every aspect of my life. Thanks for the encouragement to start healing from within. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you, Carlie! Yes, breaking bad "thinking" habits can be hard to break. I'm glad this encouraged you! God bless.

  2. Linda, this is so on point! As someone I love very much has chronic illnesses, including RA, it's helpful to think about the question your doctor asked you (what stressing him out?) so that I can better help! Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad it was helpful, Bethany. I don't know if you've looked at my blog before, but it goes back to when I was first diagnosed with RA in September 2014. You might look at the index to see if there are some other entries that may be encouraging to you or your friend/family member. RA can be like a roller coaster at times - its symptoms come and go. If you ever want to talk about your loved one and some things that have helped me deal with my chronic illnesses, let me know. You can ping me on Facebook. :-)