By Jennifer Slattery, Crosswalk.com
We experience freedom when our desire to get well overrides our desire to self-protect.
This might mean admitting our marriage isn’t quite as cheery as it seems, or that we can’t fight that addiction or mental health challenge or whatever battle we’re facing alone. That we need God’s help, and just maybe, the help of others as well.
Often that first step out of the shadows, out of hiding, is the hardest.
It was for me. Some of you know my story. It’s far from glamorous, which is why I hid it for so long. For nearly 20 years, in fact. I thought I was protecting myself from rejection and embarrassment. But my hiding only increased my insecurity and shame. Though I was a deeply loved child of God, I felt like a fraud. Defective.
And so, I hid my inadequacies and pain behind trendy clothes, an immaculate house, and cheery Sunday morning slogans. I tried so hard to mimic everyone else who appeared to have it all together.
Maybe you have too.
I’ve since realized, those who present such polished, perfect personas are just as broken as everyone else. They’ve got their hurts and regrets and parts of themselves they try to hide.
But Jesus calls us to step into the light, progressively and steadily, until He illuminates, heals, and transforms every crevice of our souls. Trust in this long-proven truth: God will create such beauty in us, if we’ll let Him draw us out of the shadows and into the light of His love and grace.
One day, after sharing some of my story with a friend, she said she admired my willingness to be uncomfortable when God asked. I had to consider her statement for a moment, because honestly, I’m not nearly as noble as her words might suggest. I’m not even all that courageous. I’ve just learned to fear those things that are truly fearful. I’ve discovered, most often, life apart from God’s leading is so much more painful, hopeless and bleak than anything He might call me to.
Through all my years of walking with God, He’s demonstrated something again and again. I can trust Him with each step, knowing He’ll always guide me toward increased wholeness, increased freedom, and increased intimacy with Him, the only One in whom true and lasting joy can be found.
I don’t know what your path to healing will look like. (Or, perhaps has looked like.) Only God does. But I’m relatively certain it’ll involve some level of risk. Having the courage to say, “I’m not okay. This isn’t okay. God, I need Your help, and I am willing to follow, however You lead.”
Seeking His aid? That’s the easy part. Trusting Him enough to heed his guidance? To press through, and keep pressing, until the victory’s won?
In Mark 5, we learn about an unnamed individual known initially as “the woman with the issue of blood.” That appeared to be her defining feature, one we know, from Old Testament law, would’ve guaranteed a life of isolation and shame. Others, the religious elite who appeared to have it all together especially, considered her dirty. They wanted nothing to do with her. Wouldn’t even touch her, lest some of her uncleanness should rub off on them.
Have you ever had anyone treat you that way? As if your very presence caused their nose to wrinkle? Those who avoided you in conversations or maybe even crossed to the other side of the room? Those interactions can leave such deep wounds in our hearts, wounds that don’t often heal quickly.
Imagine enduring 12 years of that, and not just from the “cool” people in church, or in this case, the Temple, but from everyone. The entire Jewish community. Her depth of loneliness would’ve been crushing. Her feelings of worthlessness and shame, all consuming. She was so desperate for aid, for love and connection, she sought doctor after doctor, tried one supposed cure after another, until her she’d spent her last dollar.
I wonder if, when she learned Jesus was coming to town, if she considered staying home. She’d had her hopes dashed so many times, why allow herself to hope yet again? But something within her, a desperation for life—real life—rose up and gave her the courage to push through the crowd.
Probably fearing someone would recognize her and call her out as unclean. Oh, the mortification! But still she came, pressing closer and closer, thinking, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed” (Mark 5:28, NIV).
And she was! Scripture says, “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29, NIV). Miracle experienced, she might’ve planned on slipping quietly away, but Jesus called her out. “Who touched My clothes” He asked, not because He didn’t know. Other passages demonstrate that He was capable of reading hearts and minds. No, He called this woman out because His beautiful, transformative work in her wasn’t through.
But notice, she had to take that first step. She had to choose whether to slip back into the crowd and dart away, unnoticed by all but God, or step out into His grace. She chose the latter and fell before Him, trembling.
Daughter. Can you sense the tenderness in that word? She went from being “the woman who suffered from the issue of blood,” to hearing Christ call her daughter—the only woman in Scripture Christ referred to as such. And in this, He proclaimed to her and to all those watching, that they were not to consider her unclean.
No. She was His beloved, seen and known, and made whole, daughter.
I’m convinced the healing His words created, deep in her soul, brought her the greatest freedom of all.
Let's talk about this! Where are you at in your healing journey? What’s your next courageous step?
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.