The last few weeks have been a little challenging…. I felt out of balance, a little disoriented, somewhat depressed, and trying to figure out what was going on. My sleeping was off, my eating was falling into old habits, it was hard to get up and go, old feelings of unworthiness and unloveability tried to claim a place back in my life, and all in all, I was struggling. It took a while for me to realize that this time of year is often hard for me. The end of September, beginning of October is a time when the darkness seeps in and I can get this way. Almost as soon as I realized this and asked a couple of friends to pray for me, it began to lift, and the lightness and joy and ease began to seep back in again. And while I don’t know what it is about this time of year (I assume some trauma happened when I was young that keeps coming back in a physical, bodily fashion), I am thankful that it is a limited time frame, and pray for those for whom this is not the case.
This week’s scripture reading is the story about the ten lepers who are healed, but only one comes back to thank Jesus. As I sat with this story, a different interpretation came to me. Usually it’s all about the thankfulness of the one, and the lack of gratitude by the nine. But today, whispered into my heart, was a new thought. What if the nine did not realize that they had really been healed? Here was this guy, telling them to go the priest who could confirm their healing and bless them, allowing them to rejoin society. But when you have been disowned for so long, when you have been the unclean one, the scapegoat, the unloved and mocked one, can you trust these words and find the courage to try one more time to be considered a worthy member of society? Maybe, only the one who returned to Jesus, was able to trust and try again. Maybe just this one had a shard of hope left. The other nine simply did not believe healing was even possible. When Jesus told them they had been healed, they were not able to hear it and continued walking, lost and hopeless, ringing their bells of uncleanliness. Scaring the world away.
When I juxtapose this with my recent experience, I see some similarity. While I know healing is possible, and has already taken place in 95% of me, (maybe more!!), there is still that small part of me that cannot believe this could ever happen. Will there even truly be an end to the memories, the flashbacks, the feeling of unworthiness? And if I trust that there will, does it make the reality of when they come harder? If this is the case, it’s better not to believe.
So while 95% (maybe more!!) of me falls to the ground in thanksgiving for the healing, there’s still a fraction that keeps on walking, ringing the bell of uncleanliness, avoiding people who might otherwise love me or call me healed and worthy. That small part which guards itself, waiting for the worst to happen. Are there more memories to uncover? More hurt that will come my way? More abuse that will catch me unaware?
As I continue to work with this small part of me, I wonder how I can help it be more thankful and trusting. Experience has certainly smashed the belief that I am still in danger…. So how can I slowly allow this part to be exposed in ways that will give it the chance to see that life is good, ok, safe. That I am worthy and loved. I get the image of a shy cat, slowly watching and peeking out from a place it can run from. Maybe approaching and trying a quick petting before running away. Maybe chancing playing with a toy in public. Maybe jumping up close to a person before either biting the hand that reaches out or allowing itself to touch the hand. And slowly trusting, mostly, until it chances sitting on a lap for an instance.
I also wonder how I can be more aware next September, how I can help myself be more open and thankful as this time of year sneaks back around, trying to nurture and love the parts that are trapped in the seasonal break. I think there is something in the gratitude piece for me…. Can I throw myself to the ground in gratitude for all the healing that has already happened, rather than walking away ignoring it? Can I sit with the miracles of life, instead of embracing the old scars?
And so I thank God for healing. And trust that this will be enough.
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