Real and withered

Sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes I feel anxious. I have even felt as if I were having an anxiety attack, and I don’t even know what one feels like? My heart rate quickens. I feel warm and tingly. How is this different than feeling good? Sometimes I feel like this even in church. What should be a sacred and safe place becomes an emotional trigger? This shouldn’t be, right? I’ve had visions of jumping up and screaming right there in the middle of church. Of course, in my Pentecostal church, this wouldn’t be all that unusual. But at the Baptist church I now attend, I’m not sure what the response would be? Would I be escorted out? Would people surround me to pray for me? Would someone mistake it as part of the sermon, a contrived illustration of the Pastor’s point? Sometimes I wish I could adequately describe how I’m feeling. I wish I had someone to talk with about how I feel. I don’t know what to do at times. I continue to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Slowly. Surely. Meandering toward a goal. The next benchmark. A new experience or feeling. So many trips around the Sun it starts to feel as if I have passed here before. Solomon was right, “There is nothing new under the Sun.”

I like how Jesus called people out in church. I remember once reading about a man with a withered hand that stepped forward in the Synagogue where Jesus was preaching. Jesus miraculously straightened it out. Sometimes my life feels withered. I really need Jesus to straighten it out. A little over four years ago, I was in survival mode. We moved to a new state and I started a new job and a new life. But why do I still feel as if I am merely surviving? I remember once, shortly after moving to Oklahoma having to pay some bills. I drove in circles trying to figure out who to pay first, and what to tell those I couldn’t pay. I needed help. But mostly I feel embarrassed to ask. Because it’s a bit unfair to expect that those who have been wise in certain aspects of their lives to help those of us who have been unwise. I mean its pretty simple right. Spend less than you make. Math. I hate math. There is a huge disconnect between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

And it’s not just finances. It’s also relationships. Those near and dear, how to speak without fear of rejection? How comforting an audience of one would be who just listened without judgement. Isn’t this a description of God? Strange how religion has a way of ruining our relationships with God and with others. I’m attempting to make sense of it all. What is true, what is propaganda, what is false, and what is mere wishful thinking. Not that there is anything wrong with thinking wishfully, this is the stuff of enchantment. It is wonderful when it is found again. Of course, religion doesn’t exclusively occupy this space, life in general has a way of complicating everything. Life plus time can equal despair if we lose sight of hope. I don’t think I’ve lost sight, but at times it is blurry. The fog can be thick these days.

I wonder if the man with the withered hand was embarrassed when Jesus called him forward? Was he able to even focus on the words of Christ, or did he suddenly become exclusively self-centered, as many of us do when singled out in front of a crowd. I wonder how long this man had silently suffered wondering if anyone really cared about his circumstance? Was this his first time at Synagogue, or was he a regular, seeking a small amount of meaning in the solace of religion?

Jesus gave a simple command to the man, “Stretch forth your hand.” Of course, it was an impossible ask. Those who are withered by definition cannot stretch. But miraculously as the man made the attempt, he was healed. I’m attempting to stretch all of the withered parts of me. Maybe this is by divine design? Perhaps God uses our feeble attempts at impossible tasks to straighten out the truncated emotions and failed actions that define our regrets?

What has withered your heart, mind, life or dreams? Maybe God is calling your name, and the step forward in response to that call is the extraordinary means of grace that is intended you to stretch you to healing and wholeness. 

Thanks for praying for me.

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