Sometimes it stings
a couple thoughts on being seen
Ought Not You Also
My friend Kerri posted something on-line last week that said,
“healing can be terrifying for people who don’t know who they are without their pain”.
At the time, I was reading the story of Jesus healing the woman with the bent back. So I wanted to share with you how Kelly’s post and this text came together for me.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. [then some stuff about religious folks being pissed he healed someone on the sabbath, to which he responds] “…And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” - Luke 13
First I should say, we do not know what bend her back in half; perhaps a deformity, or perhaps the accumulated effects of verbal abuse - we just know that something pulled her face to the ground for 18 years.
And I can only imagine what she was called by the cruel children in the marketplace. I can only imagine the strategies she had to create to just get through. How exhausting the pity of others must have become. How daily she was disregarded. How the bend in half woman was seen as worth maybe half of everyone else.
And one day she goes to the synagogue, perhaps like she had done a thousand times before, but on this day a man was there - and the text says he saw her. He saw her. It doesn’t say that he noticed her strangeness, it says he saw her. He saw her alienation and her beauty. He saw that she suffered. He saw that the 18 years she had spent like this were long years. He saw that she was not an affliction, she was a daughter of Abraham. He saw who she was before her pain. And when he saw her, I do believe that he saw a whole person, and not a half a woman. And I think being seen that way was in itself, a healing.
Yes, it was when Jesus laid hands on her that she stood straight but he set her free first by seeing her.
And I found myself wondering if it hurt…not just the pain of standing up straight for the first time in nearly two decades, but because it can sting to be healed – to be freed from what binds us especially if we overly identify with our afflictions. It can hurt to be healed and freed from the things that we think make us special. It can hurt to be fully seen even if it is the thing we long for most.
Like blood returning to frostbitten fingers.
I do not know what the world sees when they look at you, and what it is that remains unseen, I just know that it’s not likely to be the whole truth of who you are. Perhaps you are pulled down by the spirit of perfectionism
or by the spirit of addiction
or by the spirit of comparison
or by the spirit of unmet expectations
or by the spirit of arrogance
or by the spirit of self-pity or self-loathing
or pulled down by the spirit of a world that will break your heart and tell you it doesn’t matter (I myself have felt the gravitational pull of each at different times), but none of that is who you are.
I do not know what you have healed from, or what current pain that, God willing, you will be healing from in the future.
But no matter what it is in your life that is seen or unseen by others, no matter what you have already healed from, not matter what pain remains hidden, no matter no matter no matter, God loves you too much to leave you unseen and (at least) emotionally unhealed.
So I ask you this:
Ought not you, a child of God, who has been bound for unknown years be set free from what binds you?
Ought not you also be seen?
Ought not you also be freed to know who you are without your pain?
I promise you, the answer is yes. Even if it hurts.
Love, Nadia (healing alongside of you)
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