By: Noelle Sterne     


“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.
“No,” Sunny answered.
“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let’s go.” 
The Ersatz Elevator


Are You Just Saying You Want to Get Well?                              


You may know the story of the famous natural pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (Bible, John 5:1-9). Its waters were believed to heal when they churned at unpredictable intervals. For thirty-eight years, a crippled man lay by the pool, waiting for the waters to stir so he could be cured. Jesus approached him. Instead of touching him, as with others He healed, Jesus asked the man a crucial question.

“Do you want to get well?”

The man did not answer directly, but responded that he needed someone to lower him into the pool at the right time. Others, he added, always got in ahead of him.

Jesus seemed to ignore this explanation. He responded, “Pick up your mat and walk.”

The man did and was healed.

How Much Are You Doing to Get Well?


Even though Jesus’ reply may make us squirm, it can teach us much.

  • First, He qualified the man: “Do you want to get well?”

Do we want to get well? Give up our complaining and blaming, our image of a sick or addicted self, to do what we protest we can’t? Or do we love our deprivation and misery? Do we keep repeating that the world is against us, that others have all the luck? That others always get there ahead of us? Does our poor-me status make us feel special? Do we hug it around us like a childhood quilt?

  • Second, the man did not reply to Jesus’ question, but voiced a condition:

Someone had to help him into the water when it swirled. He believed this was his only means of healing.

Who Is Responsible for Your Wellness?


What are our excuses for not looking into ourselves for the power to get well, to cure our ills? Too little time-money-energy-health-guidance-confidence? Too old-young-poor-stupid-unschooled-ugly-fat-guilty-ashamed?

What is the healing “water” we look to? The perfect other person, the right job, contacts, pills, diets, fasts, funds, locations, degrees, phases of the moon? Do we look to if-only and when-then? Click To Tweet

We’re sure that after all these remedies or changes finally take place, we will be healed and able to do what we say we really want to.

But have you noticed? Another if-only or when-then always pops up.

  • Third, the cripple continued to blame others. No one, he said, would help him

into the pool, and others always made it in there before him.

Are we putting the blame and responsibility on others to “save” us? Do we sit there, waiting for someone else, somehow, to push us, nudge us even a few inches? Are we waiting for the right time, responses, physical look, bank account, permission, weather?

Or do we feel we have to make a pilgrimage to our version of the pool—

Finding Your Wellness


Jerusalem, Mecca, a retreat, a cave, a church full of saintly relics? Do we think we have to travel to a center or hospital, professional, specialist, holy man, holy mountain?

Like the thirty-eight-year cripple, such beliefs are what keep us immobile, sidelined, and mired in our continued misery or frustration.

Most of us are waiting in some way, giving ourselves all those excuses that sound so sane, reasonable, and irreproachable. That’s why we remain at our own pool of Bethesda. Click To Tweet

But Jesus didn’t listen to any of the excuses. He didn’t even address the “reality” of the cripple’s situation—that no one would lower him into the pool, or indeed that he was even crippled.

Jesus saw only the man’s innate wholeness, the wholeness he deserved. That’s why Jesus commanded him to get up and walk.

The Well and Will Change Much


So, like Jesus, think of the “walk” you dearly want that you’ve been excusing yourself from. Healing a chronic condition? An addiction? Going back to school? Taking steps toward a new job? Clearing out the spare room for a painting studio? Resuming yoga? Learning Norwegian? Writing a poem or a novel? Repairing your important relationship? Spending more special time with your children?

Like Jesus, look past any supposed obstacles and impossibilities, or better, ignore them entirely. See and consistently visualize yourself “walking” in the ways you most desire, doing and being what you most want.

You don’t need to concern yourself with the details (spiritual teacher Mike Dooley calls them “the cursed house”). Jesus didn’t marshal onlookers to lower the man into the water, tell him to rub salve on his legs, wrap them in pressure bandages, or even get a cane. Jesus saw and affirmed only the completed whole. As we do likewise, the means will come forth to do our own “walking.”

Using Your Well and Will to Get Better


Not only did He ignore the man’s physical condition, He did more, commanding, “Pick up your mat and walk.” Not only walk, but “pick up your mat.” This command shows Jesus’ complete faith in the process and the crippled man’s ability. Despite lying almost immobile for thirty-eight years, and the justifiable assumption that the man was very weak, Jesus would have none of it. He saw the cripple not only as whole, but as wholly strong and capable. And the man, feeling the force of Jesus’ conviction and love, obeyed and measured up.

Look too at when Jesus healed the man—on the Sabbath (and it wasn’t the first time Jesus did this). The Jewish law decreed that any kind of “work” was forbidden on this day, and this act was one of several that helped build the Jewish leaders’ case against Him and would lead to His persecution.

Your Well and Will are Within


Why is this Sabbath healing important for us? Jesus didn’t let a man-made rule stop or deter him. He said that His “Father” was always working (John 5:17).

He knew that the universal law of healing knows no calendar. And so for us: the Power is available anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, situations, or conditions.

When we see and act beyond our present appearances and state of affairs, whatever they are, to wholeness, we too are on our way to healing. As we feel, believe, picture the wholeness, so it will come into being. Click To Tweet

Whatever is keeping you hunched up by the pool, clutching your old blanket of excuses, pitiably watching life parade by, is false.

So, pick up your own mat. You need no longer wait by your version of the pool of Bethesda. Right now, you can walk and run and skip—and claim your healing and your never-ending good.


Bio: Dr. Noelle Sterne
Author, editor, writing coach, writing and meditation workshop leader, spiritual counselor, Noelle has published over 400 writing craft articles, spiritual pieces, essays, short stories, and occasional poems.  A Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast (May 16, 2017) featured her story “Time to Say Goodbye” from a 2013 volume


Noelle’s books

Author, Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping With the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles. Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015

Noelle’s book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011) contains examples from her practice, writing, and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach lifelong yearnings.

As part of pursuing her writing Dream, Noelle’s mission is to help other writers reach theirs and create the lives they truly desire. Taking her own advice (hard as it may be), she is completing her first novel.



Writing, and recovery heals the heart


Recovery is available to us all. We can and do recover when we’re ready to tap into the well. Sometimes though, we need encouragement, and that is where your story can help others get up and experience recovery. Consider sending a guest post today. 


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