Last month, I developed neck pain so severe I could not turn my head or lie comfortably in any position to sleep. Over-the-counter pain medication didn’t help and neither did heat, ice, or self-massage.

Within hours, pain had taken over my life. I could not sleep or work. It even hurt to eat and drink. I cried out when I bent at the waist or had to cough or sneeze.

My primary doctor ordered an x-ray, prescribed some pain relief, and suggested I see an orthopedist for further treatment. I was dismayed to learn I would have to wait an entire month for a new-patient appointment. I pleaded my case to the receptionist. “I can’t live with this pain for a month.” She apologized, said she understood my frustration, and offered no helpful advice.

My next stop was the local orthopedic urgent care center. I was hopeful as I approached the reception desk and surveyed the sparsely populated waiting room. But my optimism was dashed by the lackadaisical receptionist, who turned me away saying, “We don’t have anybody here who can do necks.” She really said that. Do necks.

I was flabbergasted. I asked her what I should do. She wanly suggested trying a nearby orthopedics practice.

I was desperate for healing and felt frustrated, believing I had done my part to bring it about. I saw my doctor and followed her instructions. I received energy healing and prayed with the Unity Prayer Ministry. I did what I was supposed to do and took everything I was supposed to take.

Even so, the pain kept me almost incapacitated.

We are never not whole, but during periods of discomfort and illness, it can be easy to forget.

A Deeper Understanding of Healing

This experience led me to expand my understanding of cooperating with my healing and helping to bring it about. Cooperating with healing is not just a call to acceptance and adherence. It is also a call to advocacy. The response I had gotten was inadequate, and it impelled me to find better help.

I found another orthopedic urgent care center in another town. The difference was night and day. The folks there were responsive, warm, and efficient. They expressed empathy for my pain. They explained the reason for their diagnostics and told me why they were making the choices they did. I left there with a treatment plan, new prescriptions, and an order to begin physical therapy as soon as possible. Their care and expertise helped me feel as though I mattered. When I walked out of that facility, my neck still hurt, but I felt healed.

My progress in the days since has been slow but steady. I’m grateful my pain has lessened as my mobility has improved. But my healing has involved more than managing pain and treating symptoms. The gift of this situation is in taking ownership of my treatment and advocating for myself.

The Metaphysical Roots of Healing

Unity understands healing as the realization of wholeness, which is an aspect of our divine identity. Of course, we are never not whole, but during periods of discomfort and illness, it can be easy to forget. And the inner work we do in consciousness—such as praying and speaking affirmations—can go a long way toward restoring us to the awareness of wholeness. But the outward action we take to care for ourselves, to maintain health or reclaim it are also integral to healing.

Cooperating with healing and realizing wholeness means agreeing with the thoughts and actions that affirm health and using the divine gifts of dominion and wisdom to say no to what is not working and find the people who care about your comfort and recovery as much as you do.

No matter the healing challenge, remember, as a divine being, you are meant to live in wholeness. And part of realizing that wholeness is to not settle for anything less.

About the Author

Rev. Teresa Burton is an ordained Unity minister and licensed Unity teacher. A dynamic speaker and creative instructor, Burton makes Unity teachings easy to understand and fun to learn. Before answering the call to ministry, she worked as an editor for more than 25 years in various capacities in print and digital publishing.

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