By Katherine Glenn
In her book Hurting Yet Whole: Reconciling Body and Spirit in Chronic Pain and Illness, author Liuan Huska explores how we relate to our own bodies, how our bodies limit what we can do or achieve, and how our relationship with our bodies impacts the way that we relate to God. While written for those who understand the unique struggle of suffering from a chronic illness, I found this book to be very helpful for any person who has experienced seasons of feeling let down by their body. Essentially it is a book for everyone, because none of us have perfect bodies that we can always control or count on.
Through a unique mixture of personal vulnerability, theological reflection, and scientific research Liuan Huska offers us all a helpful starting place for exploring our relationships with our own health and bodies in light of our relationship with God. It is an invitation to look anew at our life stories with a lens that is forgiving and full of grace for our past or present physical limitations. And it is a gentle tool to teach us how to talk to others about issues related to health, wellness, bodily pain, purpose, and function. Instead of seeking to give definitive answers to complex questions, Hurting Yet Whole offers readers a cautiously hopeful framework for finding shalom in the midst of any physical uncertainty or struggle we may encounter in the course of our embodied lives.
As Huska writes on page 35:
“I want the church to say ‘Your pain is not just something we minister to. Perhaps it is something that can minister to us. We want to learn from your experiences because the fragility and brokenness of your body can speak to our shared human condition. The suffering you know in your body is something we can all grow from, not something you need to transcend in order to grow.’ And mostly, I want my sisters and brothers to say, ‘We see you in your pain. We don’t flinch or turn away. It’s not unsightly or inconvenient. It’s not something we need to solve. Your body is still good. It is still holy. We are with you in your body, just the way it is.'”
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