Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I almost wish I had been a leper

Leprosy (n) a chronic infectious disease affecting the skin and peripheral nerves which causes loss of sensation, paralysis and deformities.

I think I may have had something like this condition for about a decade and didn't even know it. An actual medical professional didn't diagnose me, but as I look back on my symptoms I'm pretty sure this is what it was.

It began innocuously enough. With a small spot of anger at someone that totally deserved it.Seriously. You can ask anyone that was there. It was justified.

Because I was right in my anger, I held on to it. To be honest, I didn't feel it growing. But it did. It's claws dug into my heart and mind until I couldn't put it down even if I had wanted to.

So I tried to ignore it instead.

Memories surrounding this relative who had rejected me, shamed me and humiliated me when she should have loved and protected me started out painful and became numb. Kind of like a leper whose nerve endings are damaged.

When other people mentioned their close, happy relationships with their certain relatives, stinging pain would strike, unless I shut it down with my practiced numbing techniques. I tried hard to keep my emotions in a deep freeze.

I began searching out replacements for this person who I felt had rejected me so terribly in the past, hoping for and settling for scraps from others who already had complete families and weren't searching for more. Like I was. I was trying to make myself feel better with substitutes.

If this relative was going to be at a family function that I would be at, I froze in fear and then reacted by running and hiding. Or I acted as though I were above it all; as though white hot hatred weren't bubbling just below the surface, lava-like, waiting to explode. With a plastic smile on my face I tried to pretend like I didn't want to scream "How could you?!" or "Why?!"

Sounds healthy, right?

Many times I have rejected people before they could reject me. This anger I carried was deforming how God meant for me to be.

Years have gone by. I have taught bible studies which have included chapters on letting go of anger and bitterness. (I tried....really.) Also, chapters on forgiveness. (I didn't stick, I guess.)

One week ago today,I going through my study of "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent God was gently nudging softly making me aware holding my feet to the flames so I knew it was time to lay this down.

So I did. My girls prayed over me and I snuffled, sniffed and prayed too. And I did the ugly cry. U.G.L.Y.

But I laid this heavy, ugly burden down because I don't want to carry it around anymore. God has forgiven me! I want to forgive. God gave me grace! I want to extend grace. I am tired of having this place in me that is not His place. Please take it from me.

Later that day, I was spent and exhausted. Imagine that.

Something brought this person to my mind. I felt no pain in the memory. Hmmm. I went further. Another memory. Again no pain. But no numbness, either. What was this?

I jumped full on into my sea of ugly. I visited them all. I touched on everything. I felt nothing. Wait, not nothing. I felt....comforted. Soothed. Held. He was with me in my place.

Universe away from numb.

I left the past and moved to the potential future. I began weeping when I realized....I could call this person...I could visit this person....I could talk to this person! I can and do pray for this person!

I am free! God has healed me from my disease!

Do you know how completely weird it is to have lived with a thing for so long and to have the Lord remove it from you? I cannot explain this except to say, I almost wish I had been a leper, so I could show you and shout, "Look! My spots! They are GONE!"

I must be honest here and mention that I did wake up periodically throughout that first night, then in the morning and check myself with the memories. Just to see if it was still true. If I was still clean.

But I bet the lepers that Jesus healed checked in the morning to see if their skin was still clean, too. Just sayin'.

Psalm 103 1-5

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

1Peter 2 9-10

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”
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