By: Woodrow Lucas
My ex-wife and I have a very amicable relationship and have worked out a parenting plan that works for us both. I get my youngest daughter Gabi on Thursday nights and every other weekend. Well every Thursday night for the past 5 months my daughter Gabi has had Jujitsu class, so it has been my responsibility to take her after school. I very much enjoy Jujitsu and what it is accomplishing in my daughter. The self-reliance, self-discipline, and self-awareness that it is creating in her are palpable.
Now during Jujitsu class, every now and again, I sneak over to the Polynesian Restaurant next door and get my signature salmon salad. Today, I was in the restaurant eating my salad, reminiscing on something I said to the Lord today about how people need to be focused on healing and getting healed, because getting healed is a much faster route to happiness than waiting for this distracted society to wake up to its need to care for those with disabilities. So I was reminiscing on my earlier profundity, when I heard a voice clear as day say, “My son, let me ask you a question. If I give you a man who is fully healed and whole and functional in the world, but he is all alone on the earth and I give you a man who is missing one arm and one leg but everyone around him loves and cares for him, which man is happy?” I quickly received my Savior’s rebuke, and answered, “The second man is happy my Lord.” To which Jesus responded, “Well done.”
The truth is that I am a man obsessed with healing. I take Luke 1:37 that with God nothing shall be impossible very seriously. I believe that any person, anywhere can do anything, if they truly set their heart, mind, and will to it. When I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder in 2001, I paid very little attention to the doctors who told me I would never get all of my mental faculties back, or the doctors who said that I would have symptoms for the rest of my life. And truth be known, I did get my mental faculties back and went to one of the most prestigious graduate schools in the country and now, at this very moment, I am on the precipice of being 100% symptom free and 100% functional on meds. But as I ruminate on how incredible my life will be when I am totally healed and how much I want to free others who struggle with mental illness and demonic oppression. I am struck by my Savior’s rebuke. For if I heal myself or cooperate with God to be healed and have no friends or people or partners to share my freedom with, will I be happy?
Questions like these make me think of the role that my ex-wife Machel Mills has played in my life. From the very beginning of me experiencing illness, my ex-wife has given me two things in abundance, comfort and hope. When I was in the hospital after my first psychotic break, my ex-wife came to me and said, “Woody, this is for the good of your ministry.” When I wanted to step out on faith and go to graduate school, my ex-wife never questioned me. She just started to pray. And even when I experimented with getting off my meds, my ex-wife supported me all the way. Even now, that we are divorced and she has a pretty serious boyfriend, she called me last January and said, “Woody, this is your year. This is the year that you come all the way out of mental illness and demonic oppression.”
Words cannot describe the way that I feel about this woman. While I no longer feel romantic feelings for her, my brotherly love and respect for her could not be higher. I love her with all of my soul and make no apologies for it. She is a better mother to my children than I could have possibly asked for, and I am glad that she is finding happiness outside of our marital union.
One might ask, “if there is so much love between the two of you, why did you get divorced in the first place?” This is a formidable question, as the reasons for my ex-wife’s and my divorce are complicated, messy, and difficult to easily describe, just like life with mental illness is often complicated, messy, and difficult to easily describe. But I tell you, in retrospect, that I believe that part of the reason for our separation came from this deep knowledge that we both possessed that I had to walk the last leg of my healing journey alone to experience the full benefits of what God wanted me to learn from it.
And I can honestly say that I have felt more alone and isolated in the three years following my divorce than I have ever felt in my life. This journey of having to overcome some pretty serious symptoms while managing my life and high stress jobs has been extremely difficult. But I can honestly say, that I wouldn’t trade it, because it has made me the man that I am today. And I am quite proud of who I am in this moment.
So how does it all fit together? My obsession with getting free from mental illness even though the medical community says its veritably impossible? My belief that our society is so broken that it is better for me to develop the skills and faith to get people better, than to try to sow compassion among a people who think that a public option for health insurance is socialism? The Jujitsu revelation that I received today from the Lord, in which he ever so gently reminded me that healing without loving relationship is summarily useless? And my gratitude to my ex-wife for always getting my back, both in marriage and after marriage? How does it all fit together?
Well this is my theory. I am definitely going to become 100% functional and symptom free on meds. That is an inevitability. I have the persistence of Jacob, and there is no way that I am letting go of the Lord until that goal is a reality. But the memory of what my ex-wife has meant to me, and my parents have meant to me, and my friends have meant to me, and my prayer warriors have meant to me, and my kids have meant to me, and my brother and brothers and sisters in law have meant to me, and my cousins have meant to me, and the smiles of random passers by have meant to me in this process, in this journey, in this quest, makes me think that maybe I have been a little hard on us as a society. The person who my ex-wife has been in my life, reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13. 1 Corinthians 13 is in my opinion the most profound pericope of scripture ever written in any religious text of any religion anywhere. And there is this line in 1 Corinthians 13 that says and “abideth these three faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love.”
You really can’t come out of illness without faith and hope. Faith and hope are the substance of power, and power is the essence of regenerative life. Healing and faith, even the faith that science has in its principles and laws are so inextricably connected that you cannot have one without the other. But what the Jujitsu revelation reminds me, is that my mandate once I am free is not just to free others, but it is also to convince this society, that love overcomes all pain, even when someone for whatever reason doesn’t get the healing they seek. Love is the answer. Love is always the answer.
When I was a young minister in Chicago, the Lord said to me, “You hate what is, because you love what should be, love what is and it will be as it should be. “ I must confess, that sometimes I get a little impatient. Sometimes I want everyone to see the possibilities that God can create, as I see them. But the example of my ex-wife and the beauty of the Jujitsu revelation is that through love we can solve that human problem of unhappiness whether great faith is present or not. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be a man of faith. And I will always push myself to defy the limits that conventional society claims are writ in the very fabric of the universe. But as I do, I will remember, “Love what is, Woody. Love what is and everything will take care of itself.”
Namaste, God Bless, and Love Always……Woody Lucas