Taken from Baggage and All, (Chapter 9)
It’s been 18 years as far as anyone else’s count, but God and I know differently. I didn’t just wake up one morning like this. No, this life wrenching infirmity started harassing me long before it crippled me. A little pain and tenderness today, a little moodiness the day after, fighting nausea and fatigue the day before. The symptoms change with each rising and setting of the sun. Most people wake with great pleasure to see the sun coming up on the horizon. I just wish I could sleep so I could awaken to a new day. That’s become the routine of my life these days, looking at the sun cresting over the mountains only to see it set on the other side. Then watching as the moon and stars dance in harmony across the darkened sky. Day after day, this antagonizing affliction refuses to give me peace. It denies me rest, so I barely have the ability to stumble through this broken road I am trying to walk. It just keeps
me to succumb under the weight of its dominance. However, I am no coward. Not by any means! Therefore I fight—hard and determined not to fall prey to this infuriating illness. I will not crumble in the sand and beg for death to rob me of my chance to live. I refuse to become another number or another statistic who could not handle the pressures of life. I might not like my life, but I do choose to live it.
I have to convince myself of this as the weight of the constant attack, coming from my own being takes its toll on me today. My limbs feel like fresh mud oozing through my fingers and dropping effortlessly to the ground as I try to hold it in the palm of my hand. I must get a grip or else I risk losing me. My body is shot, my mind is exhausted, and my spirit is failing fast. Searing pain runs through my muscles like the hottest inferno. My useless stomach is cramping and my throat burns from the waves of nausea it brings up. Biting and stinging sensations crawl rapidly over my skin badgering me to give in. Yet, I refuse. I must get going. I cannot stay here. The weariness of it all is causing my mind to twirl and it spins my vision till all becomes blurry. Here I go--falling haphazardly on the hard ground again.
Great. Just great.
Let me sit here a moment, child, I need to contemplate whether I should just break down and cry, or whether I should pull myself up from this crumbled heap of mess that I am. If I listen to the whispering in my ears, I would lay here until the buzzards carry me away piece by piece. But, I am too prideful for that. After all, what would my neighbors say about me? I certainly do not want to be known as the one who died at the hand of a thousand pecking and nagging angry birds. No, I will not let this be my destiny. I have to get up on my feet again. I must keep going, it is the going that keeps me alive.
Give me a hand child. Help this worn out sack of bones off of this hard piece of earth.
My swollen feet are screaming at me, demanding I stop, still onward I lurch down this dusty path looking for my fortress, my tower of strength. It is just a few more steps now. My red and irritated eyes fall on the beauty of the one place I find hope—my synagogue. Yes, after 18 plus years I do still find hope here in God’s house. No matter what others may think, this is where I gather the strength and courage to be alive.
Before you get all “churchy” on me, let me get one thing straight. It is not the people that gather here with me that pushes me forward. In all actuality most of these “good” folks hold me back and do their best to bring me down to my demise. They are worse than this vexation, crippling those who would be more than just be. Only I have the upper hand. I know what they are about and why. I hear their smudge accusations of how I came to be what I am, yet they’ve never really seen me at all. Their venomous words cut deep and leave wounds that only God Himself could heal, and He did. I now look at those same critical beings as pitiful. Yes, I said it, they are pitiful. Why? They refuse to acknowledge that their hateful and judgmental attitude is a spring coming from a deeper evil within them. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some truly good people in this world, many meet with me every Sabbath at the Synagogue. I hold no ill will to those who have hurt me with their false testaments to my life. I used too, but then God changed my heart. He’s been doing that a lot lately. Sorting through the dilemma of me to teach me more of His ways and His love.
It’s amazing how God used this physical crippling to show me who I really am. I’ve learned so much about my true self through this process. I’ve learned a whole lot more about my God too. I don’t think I realized just how much He really loved me, and I still can’t comprehend it, until I found myself completely unlovable. For the life of me, I will never understand how God could love me. Look at me, a crippled up old woman. I am bound not only by my physical state, but also by my emotional and spiritual state of being. The hideousness of my outward appearance had nothing on my inward person.
All these years, I had believed I had to be “someone”. I had to prove myself. I had to be what everyone else expected me to be. I bought into the lies that I was who they said I was. Some named me dependable and loyal. Well, I am not because there are times I want to be anything but the one who can be counted on. I really want to be selfish and do what I want. Truth be told, I was only named that so I could be controlled and shamed into doing as they wished. I could have remained angry with them, but let’s face it we all try to control one another. That’s the hard part of breaking free. The forgiving and the admitting. I don’t like it, quite ashamed of it to be honest, but I have bullied and intimated a fair share of vulnerable people in my day. What a sad bunch of creation we have become.
On the other side of me, is this girl who never felt good enough. It is taking me some time to deal with all that junk. But, God is so patient and so kind. In His special way, He taught me that I wasn’t good enough. Nothing I can do will ever make me good enough. That was the most liberating tad of knowledge I have ever grasped hold of. The glory of it all is that I don’t have to be good enough, because He is. I don’t have to be smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, whatever enough others scrutinize me for not being. He makes me enough to be loved and accepted. I guess what I am trying to say is, when all is said and done, the truth is we are all searching for the same thing…ACCEPTANCE. We are all just looking for a place we belong. A place where we feel loved and wanted.
Most people never find it, because they never really find out who they are. That’s why I continue to drag my sorry mess of a being down to the synagogue. It’s not to be seen, and certainly not so any one will feel sorry for me. I spent way too many years partaking in that silliness on my own. I surely don’t want to burden anyone else with that baggage. The reason I transport this load of me down this long and narrow path is to hear more of what God has to say. His promises call me to lift my crippled body to a higher standard. His love for me calls me to see myself through His eyes. When I come into His presence and feel His favor on me, it gives me victory over this infirmity. Every word the reader reads from the precious scroll filters through these near deaf ears to a soul that is starving for more of God. That’s why I make the torturous journey every week. I need God. Even though, I have not been healed, He is still meeting my every need. The work that He has been so passionately doing inside of me, is worth the suffering I have endured all these years.
Well, look at me, I have gone on and on about myself. To think I once was shy and timid, afraid of my own shadow, and now here I am rambling on and on. God has made that change in me too. I never thought I had much to talk about until my relationship with Him took on greater meaning. Now, I just want to talk about Him and what He is doing. It doesn’t matter if He is doing it with me or with someone else. I just love talking about Him. That’s another reason I drag this old feeble bowed up body down this road to the synagogue. You see, here I meet with Him in His place. Most of the time He comes to me. But, every now and then, I think God wants us to get up out of our comfortable places and make the sacrifice of coming to Him. I know I can worship Him anywhere, but there is something extra special about coming to my Father’s house. I picture Him setting the table and making sure I have all I need to be filled and satisfied. Then after I feast from His goodness we sit and chat a spell. That is the greatest gift a soul could give themselves. Don’t get much better than getting up early in the morning, going to the Father’s house, and spending the day with Him. Don’t be gullible and let the devil convince you otherwise. Child, you need God. You need to come to Him. You can’t expect something from someone when you are not willing to give back to them. That’s just plain nonsense.
The sleep this insane illness has robbed me of has made my eyes irritated and blurry, but I still believe this place is the most beautiful in our little village. Just look at it, God’s house, my Father’s house. You have to see it from the heart, sweetie, or you will never capture the full beauty of it. Doesn’t matter how grand the stone or the fixtures placed all around, it’s the Spirit that makes it so fascinating.
I see through these watery eyes that we have a guest speaker today. I can’t recall seeing him around these parts before. I declare I must know Him because a part of me feels compelled to fall to my wobbly knees and worship Him, and girl, I have never felt like that about any man before. There’s something about Him that bids me come closer. I know it is not proper for a woman to do such. Those who know me know there is never been anything proper about this ole gal. Maybe He will turn to face me. If I could just get a better glimpse of His face then maybe…
Oh my, my sweet Lord, can it be? It is, it most certainly is, child, look at Him. I never thought… oh, how can it be that He would come here? Come to where I am. But, hasn’t He always come to me. Even at my worst, when I was so bad, He came to me through His word, and now, look at Him standing there in front of me. He’s calling me to come even closer. Old body don’t give out on me now. Do you see me? I’m walking toward my Lord. I am walking toward my God.
His hand on my back is sending tingling vibrations throughout my body. There is power in His touch. There is healing in His hands. His voice carries the command of freedom to my mind and suddenly I feel the cuffs of my imprisonment fall to the ground. At His words my chains peel back as a rosebud gently unfolding her pedals. His glory is filling my soul and rushing to the tip of my tongue. My back is straightening under the tenderness of His hand. Look at my feet, they are dancing. My arms, my tired old arms, are lifting in adoration of my God.
Jesus, sweet Jesus has set me free! Glory, Hallelujah, praise be to the Son of God! I can’t
stop my dancing. Forever I will praise You, My Lord, My Jesus. My Savior. My Redeemer. My
Seriously. You must be kidding me. Just listen to those heathens. They are in an up roar because the Lord has visited with us this morning and interrupted their agenda. So self-righteous they can’t even see the Son of God standing before them. These poor creatures, are crippled by their own foolish traditions and regulations. Listen at them giving Him, the law-giver, a lecture on the law. But, who am I to criticize them? I practiced the same sort of vain religion myself for a while: always worried about appearances, always concerned about being good enough. Well, there’s one thing I have learned, I am not good enough. I will never be good enough. If I was good enough I wouldn’t need God. How ridiculous we must look to a Holy God, when we put more emphasis on our customs, than we do on the price of a soul. How absurd we must seem to God. We look down on His creation while trying to lift up His commandments. We’ve lost love and traded it for prejudice. If there’s one thing you learn from this old woman, let it be this…
You were not put here to judge anyone. You were not put here to fix anyone. You were put here to love—to love as God loves.
Anything else will find you bowed up and bound up worse than I ever was. Who cares if Sister Mary Martha’s veil is not pulled tight? She’s just trying to breath. Who cares if Brother Joseph’s sandals are worn and tattered, or that the poor widow had to come barefoot? At least they made the effort to come. Who cares if that baby is fuzzy? Praise God, his parents love him enough to introduce him to God. They are here, for crying out loud, worshipping and learning of God. Let go of the pretense, of the accusations, and of the hate. Love, child love. Love others as God loves you. Shake the chains of Satan off your back and let God set you free. These temporal things we get entrapped by are nothing more than snares set by the enemy. They have no usefulness in the reality of life. The reality that we all must be set free by God. The reality that we all need saving. Let go, my sweet child. Let go of it all and be set free. For whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
Child, look at me dancing, this old gal is free! Yes, mam, I am free! I am free indeed!!