The Healer’s Art

I have been thinking a lot recently on the occupation that I will call a healer.  Although there are many wonderful things going on in the world, especially at Christmas time, there are also many people who have a difficult time during this season.  Maybe it’s because of the loss of a loved one or maybe the holidays have always been hard for reasons unknown to everyone else.  These kind of feelings and problems are all around all year long, people in need of a healer.

As we think about the most amazing Healer the world has known, we can see that He went about doing good, healing physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds.  Those who are familiar with the Bible will recognize stories of the Savior’s healing:  Giving a blind man sight, healer the leper, curing all manner of diseases, casting out devils, and bringing joy to all those who would come unto Him.  I know that many in the world today are in need of healing.  Maybe even those closest to you.  In a speech given by Jeffrey R. Holland during a Christmas season years ago, he discusses the need we have today of those who would take us the business of healing:

On the example of the Savior himself and his call to his apostles, and with the need for peace and comfort ringing in our ears, I ask you to be a healer, be a helper, be someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better. Isn’t that the phrase we used to use as children when we had a bump or a bruise? Didn’t we say to Mom or Dad, “Make it better.” Well, lots of people on your right hand and on your left are carrying bumps and bruises that they hope will be healed and made whole. Someone sitting within reasonable proximity to you tonight is carrying a spiritual or physical or emotional burden of some sort or some other affliction drawn from life’s catalog of a thousand kinds of sorrow. In the spirit of Christ’s first invitation to Philip and Andrew and then to Peter and the whole of his twelve apostles, jump into this work. Help people. Heal old wounds and try to make things better.

What if we all made it our business to be healers to those around us?  I have been healed by so many at different times in my life.  I see mothers heal as they hold a crying child in their arms or just listen as they tell them a distraught experience.  I see father’s heal a they push their children to overcome fears and gain confidence in themselves.  My parents are great healers.  They wrap their arms around all who would come into their proximity, helping them to instantly feel the love of God through them.  What if we passed the art of healing on to our children?  How many frail kids at school might be overjoyed to find a “healer” who will listen to them and be their friend?  I was touched by a personal story Elder Holland shares in this same speech:

Since I have talked a little earlier tonight about repentance, let me repent a bit myself–or at least do the confessing part and hope even now there is a way for me to make some restitution where that is still possible. My confession is that I wish I could go back to my youth and there have another chance to reach out to those who, at the time, didn’t fall very solidly onto my radar scope. We are so vulnerable in our youth.  We want to feel included and important, to have the feeling we matter to others. In your years people deserve to have true friendships–the real value of which, like our health, may never be realized until we face life without them. I think that my problem was not that I had too few friends but almost too many–maybe more friends than anyone I know. But it is the associations I didn’t have, the friends I didn’t reach that cause me some pain now all these years later.

Let me cite just one case… In 1979 we held in St. George our 20-year class reunion for Dixie High School. We had great high school years filled with state football and basketball championships and a host of other “hometown, USA” memories. My life was straight out of Happy Days...Anyway, an effort was made to find current addresses for the entire class and get everyone to the reunion.

In the midst of all that fun, I remember the terribly painful letter written by one very bright–but, in her childhood, somewhat overweight and less than popular–young woman who wrote something like this:

Congratulations to all of us for having survived long enough to have a 20-year class reunion. I hope everyone has a wonderful time. But don’t reserve a place for me. I have, in fact, spent most of those 20 years trying to forget the painful moments of our school days together. Now that I am nearly over those feelings of loneliness and shattered self-esteem, I cannot bring myself to see all of the class and run the risk of remembering all of that again. Have a good time and forgive me. It is my problem, not yours. Maybe I can come at the 30-year mark.

(Which, I am very happy to report, she did.) But she was terribly wrong about one thing–it was our problem, and we knew it.

I have wept for her–my friend–and other friends like her in our youth for whom I and a lot of others obviously were not masters of “the healer’s art.” We simply were not the Savior’s agents or disciples that he intended a group of young people to be. I cannot help but wonder what I might have done to watch out a little more for the ones not included, to make sure the gesture of a friendly word or a listening ear or a little low-cost casual talk and shared time might have reached far enough to include those hanging on the outer edge of the social circle, and in some cases barely hanging on at all.

I think we all know someone like the woman in this article.

Someone old or young who does not feel “included” and may be considered an outcast to some.  Someone who has burdens that you can see, or maybe ones that they are trying to hide, but someone around you is in need of a healer.  My challenge to you today is that especially during this wonderful Christmas season, take upon you and teach your children “The Healer’s Art.”  I know that as we bless others, we will be abundantly blessed ourselves.