Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha koum!”
(which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Mark 5:41
Easter gave us hope. But where is He? What do we do now? Our souls are still wounded, our circumstances not improved. Whatever broke us is still down there, in the basement of our soul. Not everyone’s, of course. And isn’t that really the difference between us? That garden of early childhood—some blessed, some neglected, some trampled beyond repair. Whether it is you or someone you love, better to know. More helpful than your genealogy or medical history. What happened?
Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. Who would? In my own small circle of beloveds:
Her mother’s boyfriend shot her dead in front of her when she was only five… his brother raped him in front of other boys… her beloved grandpa fondled her…her mother set her bedroom on fire while she slept…her husband beat her so many times her brain was too broken to remember… his coach soaped him in the shower and the rest went dark…his mother watched in a drunken stupor as a bigger boy raped him, then killed the baby brother he adored in a fiery crash…he curled up in doorways in the rain and sometimes the maids in the big houses would throw some food to him…her mother gave her street drugs when she was only eight…a toddler herself, her baby brother died in her arms, no one there to cry for…he found his father’s bloodied body, gun still in his hand…she was “married” to a stranger as a child and bore children in her own child’s body while screaming bloody pain alone…her mother traded sex for booze and she stayed numb to raise her own child like that…she was left with a strange man as a toddler and never had words for the disease and irrational fears…he survived on the streets too disgusting to tell but better than the dangerous violence of the alcoholic father at home, she….
The children tell their stories, too young to make them up. Or hide them away in the basement of their souls until they are grown.
If they survive to tell them at all.
We had to go crazy to love God anyway. A God who coulda… Why didn’t He?
Big pile of steaming poo in the wilderness.
And yet, growing right out of the middle–my sweet “brother” tells me–beautiful flowers. How is that?
What is it wounded people really want? Healing? Forgiveness? Overs?
Why do we think we are less than we are? Lost causes? Rejects? Broken beyond repair?
Who is it we think can fix us? True love? God? Death?
Where is the mercy we have been seeking? Drugs? Food? Sex?
When will it all make sense?
Those are the questions. Where are the answers?
I sometimes pin His words to my pillowcase. Literally. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.‘ Isaiah 41:10. Whisper them out loud as I stumble along, choosing to “fear not.” And nobody knows. Nobody. Except Him. So toxic, the deep river of rage down inside that we dare not look at it, let it out….WHY DIDN’T THEY LOVE ME? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? Why didn’t anyone PROTECT me? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?~?~?~
We rage silently, let it make us sick or ruin our relationships or worse. Then we look up. Wonder if there is a patron saint for healing or lost causes. Learn to listen. Dare to hope. Read the Word: “set aside anger, wrath, malice, the sin that does so easily entangle us….” (Hebrews 12:1) and hang onto the verses “…be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer supplication and thanksgiving.…” (Phillippians 4:6)….”the Lord is my shepherd….” (Psalm 23)
And weep and pound our pillows and beg lowly humans to understand and they don’t and the river of rage spills over its banks and tries to ruin what is left to us in life. Never had our lives saved before, don’t know how to begin.
But we learn to choose again. And follow Him and His words, limping, best we can, never perfect,…”Talitha, Koum”….”Child, get up,” He whispers.
We do it His way….limp, step, step…Think with His words instead of our own. And we live.
Soak ourselves a bit in the oldest story, hoping, not quite believing.
Learn a bit about “story,” after all. It is all in the telling. That we have ours. And God has His. That whether we are doubters, lovers, addicts, servants or healers, the two are intertwined forever, our story and God’s. And that the answers are there for the asking, the choosing. That we can choose to give what we never got. That we can be the Patron Saint of Healing for others, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes for more than we imagine. That it is all true, even if we are not quite ready to believe it. To trust it. In spite of the sins and horrors of broken souls in a fallen world.
We all wandered in the wilderness, sleep-walking. What were our chances? Then He came for us. “Talitha, Koum. Child, get up.” And we walked about.
I meet people all the time who have gone under the waves for less. Me and my beloveds are all still broken. Even while we are blessed. God has kept us safe against unlikely odds. Given us beautiful children from His own riches in glory. Kindness from strangers and faithfulness of spouses and His ever-present grace and mercy: Talitha, Koum. Built our souls to be His beloveds forever. The truth is a better story. Harder, yes. But better. And the gospel is the best story of all.
Free will…inviolable…damages the person, the family, the world, when used any other way.
Take it back! Take the free will back! We can’t handle it, I sometimes yell at Him.
It is set in stone.
We turn, we choose. And perfect Love saves us again. Over and over again. All of us learning to live with the impossibilities.By faith.
The memories. By redemption.
The destruction. By transformation.
Learning Truth. Speaking it. Putting it over the dark truth dredged up from the basement.
Not pretending everything was all right, when it never was. Nor pretending the world matters without Him–how much stuff we had, how much we saw of the world, how happy, well fed and entertained we were. How good-looking or smart or rich or popular. None of it. Just that He always comes for us when we ask.
We never think He will–even after all the years.
That He loves us and we are safe in Him forever, never alone.
What? It’s not my strong faith? Not my good behavior? Or good works? Or the little formula I’ve read or heard or worked out for myself?
No. Only that He is the potter and we are the clay.
Only the cosmic mystery we cannot compute, but only believe. Bathe in. Say yes to.
That we can give what we never got and be healed in ways we did not expect.
That there is no such thing as lost causes, only lost people on a journey to Him.