The Wonder of Warts

October 9, 2007 | 7 comments
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(***NOTE***: I realized Saturday morning the folly of posting a new thread the night before General Conference begins, so I took it down. Chalk it up to being a greenie. However, I feel pretty good that Elder Edgely must have read my post Friday night (“endure together”) and changed his talk accordingly. *Grin*)

It is a basic medical truism that you cannot be cured of an illness unless you go to a doctor – or someone else who can heal you. In order to be healed, you need to expose the problem that is troubling you to someone who can recognize it and offer assistance that will alleviate your suffering and cure the issue. As my father used to say, “Warts won’t go away unless they are treated.”

In spiritual terms, we accept Jesus as the ultimate healer, but I have come to believe that relatively few members understand fully the promises we make when we agree to take His name upon us. We often translate this as “being Christians,” but “Christ” was only one of his titles – only one of the names by which He is known. It is a title, not necessarily a communicable name. There is not room here to discuss the full implications of this promise, but there is one name that we can assume – no matter our circumstances or limitations. It is Healer.

We promise to assume his role of Healer specifically when we promise to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Just like any doctor, however, we simply cannot do this unless we are “open” to the sick and afflicted (either to their visits or through our own house calls) – unless we are aware of someone else’s pain and suffering – unless we know why they mourn and what comfort they need – unless we are able to see their warts. We might “fellowship” with each other on Sunday, but if we only see each other at our Sunday best – warts carefully hidden beneath white shirts and ties and well-placed mascara – we completely miss the opportunity for the depth of full fellowship that allows us to act in the place of Jesus and serve in His stead.

I am struck by how Jesus healed. He didn’t say, “Lock yourselves in your rooms and ask to be healed.” Rather, He said, “Come unto me.” Healing was not an impersonal event; it was full of touching and blessing and communicating and real physicality.

Think about it: To whom do you feel closest in your ward or branch? Is it because you know their joys and their pain – and they know yours? Is it because you have seen their warts, and they have seen yours? Perhaps, is it because you share a common type of wart – because you have shed a tear together or held each other as their life seemed to shake around them? Is it because you have held their hand, embraced them and touched their lives in real and practical and powerful ways?

Now, think of someone to whom you don’t feel close. How much do you really know about them – of their joys and pains and sorrows and stress – their warts? Have your lives played out on parallel tracks – ever in proximity but never in true contact? Finally, has there been a time when you felt completely alone? Was it because there was no one close by with whom you could talk – no one who could share your struggles and your pain – no one who could see your warts and accept you anyway?

We can be blessed greatly as we endure to the end – but I believe we can be blessed the most and truly endure well if, and only if, we endure together. I wonder how many people need help as they struggle to endure, see us each week in our Sunday best, and feel even more inadequate and unable to endure. I wonder how many people struggle to pray daily as an individual and feel debilitating guilt because they are “failures” in this important thing – without realizing just how many other members, even some in leadership positions, share that particular struggle. I wonder how many women feel overwhelming stress and guilt as they exhaust themselves in the unselfish effort to raise righteous children – without realizing that many of the women they admire and put on a pedestal share that exact same stress and guilt. I wonder how many people think their own warts are unique and repulsive, without any recognition that the people all around them in the pews have warts that appear just as hideous as their own.

The most terrible, agonizing moment in the life of the Savior appears to have been when He was on the cross – when His Father withdrew His Spirit and Jesus was left alone to exclaim, “My God. My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” He had no warts, but he felt isolated and alone and abandoned and, perhaps, unloved and unaccepted. If that can happen to someone without warts, is it any wonder that it happens to us?

Few of us struggle so openly and publicly. Our own fears and pains are not so obvious; often they are carefully hidden behind a smile and a cheerful greeting – or a forbidding intellectuality – or even by a false front of service. Unless we open up and share in each other’s lives and risk exposing our warts to those around us, we will never know their loneliness and pain – and they will never know ours. We may continue to live comfortable lives, but I believe those lives will not be comforting.

Thank God for warts.

7 Responses to The Wonder of Warts

  1. Curtis DeGraw on October 9, 2007 at 12:16 am

    queuno, I apologize. When I removed this post, I lost your comment. Please feel free to respond again; I truly appreciated it the first time.

  2. Adam Greenwood on October 9, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Excellent.

  3. Miguel on October 9, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Actually, if what you mean by healed is “get better,” the so-called truism stated at the beginning of the post is false. People get better all the time without medical intervention, and in many cases, the care that physicians provide is to alleviate symptoms or otherwise support patients so that the patients’ bodies can heal themselves.

  4. Curtis DeGraw on October 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Miguel, The last sentence is exactly the application I was referencing. Most of us are healers in exactly that sense *more* than we are as medical “administrators.”

  5. Curtis DeGraw on October 9, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I would like to add that I have seen a tremendous amount of this type of healing in the Bloggernacle since Sunday. The disappointment I initially felt has been mitigated greatly by the joy I have felt in the healing that has been occuring.

  6. Barry Swensen on October 10, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    I spoke in Sacrament meeting the week before conference and this is exactly what the Spirit has been telling me for a month, since the day I was asked to speak.

    I spoke on something similar.

    Thank you for putting in words exactly what I needed to hear.

  7. Matt on October 10, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I am a freshman at BYU this year and this struck home to me. I live in the dorms with many, many other guys but we do not fight. We see each others faults, weaknesses, and strengths, yet there is no bitterness, no fighting, not even anything closely similar to a contentious spirit. We know each other so well we are able to become better men and better future missionaries. Thank you for this post.