There’s this story in the Bible where Jesus heals a man who’s been crippled all his life. When Jesus encounters the man, he asks him a simple question: “Do you want to get well?”
One might wonder why Jesus is being so smug here as if he was warming up the crowd for his next show-stopping trick. Of course this guy wants to get well! Who wouldn’t want to get well?
A deeper look into our own tendencies and motives reveals Jesus’ question is actually one of genius.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, feeling bad feels good. Author, researcher, and TED rock star, Brené Brown, reports, “Blame is a way to discharge pain and discomfort.” Perhaps not at first, but the more we allow ourselves to play the victim, the easier it is to release ourselves of any blame or responsibility.
In our minds, we become right simply because we’ve been wronged. Perpetuating this idea is what ruins friendships, ostracizes those we love, and leaves entire cartons of ice cream empty. Why? Because playing the blame game requires a voracious appetite for validation, one that is never quite satisfied.
There is nothing quite like getting validated. Even if it’s your car, getting that little stamp from the restaurant hostess is like a little momentary pizza party for your brain. Even when it comes to your car, however, the need for validation always comes with two caveats: 1) it gives someone else all the power, and 2) it provides only a temporary fix.
Interesting that some Bible translations refer to the crippled man as an “invalid.” His life was one marked by the absence of validation and his desire for it. Jesus, however, wanted to do so much more.
Jesus wasn’t interested in simply validating the crippled man’s situation. Like everything Jesus did in the Bible, he was calling him to a deeper, fuller existence, a story far more interesting and incredible than the one he was living. This transformation required one thing, that the man actually wanted to get well. He had a lot to lose and even more to risk. “Getting well” meant leaving the life he had known for decades for a new life filled with the unknown. He had the choice to get up and walk or remain stuck, in his case, quite literally.
Whatever painful thing may have happened to you may not be your fault, but it must become your responsibility. The question is, do you want to get well?
Mike Foster is the Co-Founder of People of the Second Chance (www.SecondChance.org) and the author of an innovative small group study called “Freeway: A Not-So-Perfect Guide To Freedom.”