So I was showering this morning when a startling tidbit of information confronted me. The vibrantly purple bottle that I was setting back on the ledge had just assured me that thanks to my “totally twisted curls” I have the power to twirl boys around my finger. I was dumbfounded. “All those wasted lathers, all those potential boys, all of the twirling that could have been happening!!!!! What have I been doing with my life?!”
Things in my world have been shifting. And life’s been both beginning and ending, adventurous and ordinary, filled with relationship and lonely, full of wanted and unwanted emotions and truths. It’s been authentic, ambivalent, and impossible for me to anticipate. And I don’t know if this girl here is finding all of her longings are delightfully springing into being and her problems are untangling quite smoothly, but she is definitely not me.
Herbal Essences and I are clearly miscommunicating.
My longings don’t come quickly. Even in the new dreams of my life, there is still loss to grieve. I heard someone this weekend talk about life and the importance of grieving in the name of living. I found myself intrigued. The speaker then shared this provocative quote from Dan Allender, “Anger without grief is self-absorption. Grief without anger is unproductive.” I have to tell you, my entire body exhaled in relief at those words. I exhaled because three days ago, I was reading John 5—the passage about the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda—and Jesus and I were in a pretty raw space in my journal…
“Jesus asks a man crippled for 38 years, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The question almost strikes me as cruel… I think of the deepest longing of my heart, I think of carrying it for 38 years and then I think of someone having the audacity to ask me if I really want it. Jesus’ question places a finger on this man’s powerlessness… It breaks open the door to the man’s disappointment, leaving it swirling, churning, and undammed.
‘Do I want to be healed? Do I want to be whole? Do I want to live beyond this hurt? Who the hell are you? Where do you come off?’ That seems to me a pretty natural response. In feeling my ache, I burn with hatred at the simplicity of that question from Jesus… I feel mocked.
‘You know!’ I want to scream. ‘You know I want to be healed! You’ve heard the countless prayers; you’ve watched the heartbreak and tears. You’ve witnessed the hope each day that maybe I’ll get to the pool in time! Why would you even ask me that question? Do you even love me, really?!’
But still Jesus asks… and I know he doesn’t ask to mock”
Why do I hate Jesus’ question? Because it bows before my hope for healing with an invitation to stand and dance, and I feel exposed: uncertain and quivering, believing my hope is foolish. After all, my hope has gotten me into such trouble. But to Jesus, that hope is everything. It is the key to myself. It is the active, expectant naming of my longing in the midst of my messy past.
Jesus doesn’t want to just heal me. He wants to stroke the deepest chords of my broken heart. He wants to call back to mind all of the damage and aching, he wants us to taste each exquisite ounce of it together, he wants to enter every abandoned moment of my memory and comfort the discarded pieces of my innocence that I have decided to try and live with out. He wants to engage and bless all of me.
Do I want to be made well? Am I ready to welcome back all the lost parts of myself? Am I willing to hope again instead of ‘knowing better’? Am I willing to walk through the anger and grief so life can be born?
Yes… and I’m afraid… and Jesus is here, kneeling down low, eyes locked onto mine. And he’s ok waiting till I am ready to get up and walk.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 24 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.