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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Authentic (2)

February 1, 2009

Continued from previous post

This particular church would pause at a point early in the service when everyone was supposed to turn to the person next to them, introduce themselves, say hello and try to be a little friendly. We had a new pastor from out of town who I think picked up on the frosty New England tendencies and was attempting to break us out of the habit. It was working pretty well. Usually it got out of hand and the pastor had to reign the congregation back in to get on with the rest of the worship service.

On this particular Sunday morning, I turned to introduce myself to the woman sitting next to me. She told me her name and I immediately recognized her. She was sort of a local rock star in the Boston area. I had heard her on the radio a few times, and I told her that I knew of her music. She thought that was cool. Then I asked her how she was doing, you know, kind of casually in a “we only have two minutes before the pastor will start screaming at us to sit down and shut up,”  but not nosy way, and I’ll never forget her response. Rather than glamorizing her life as a well-known, critically acclaimed musician, she looked me squarely in the eyes and told me of the difficulty of trying to make a living as a musician and also raising a child as a single mother. And then she stopped speaking for a second, and we stood there in silence while the white noise of the congregation’s trite exchanges swirled around us like an audible blur. She turned her eyes upwards and said, “Really, I’m just hanging on by the hem of His garment.”

I thought that was so beautiful and sad at the same time. I pictured this woman with her guitar strapped over her shoulder, one arm reaching up hanging on for dear life to the hem of Jesus’ robe as he floats randomly through the sky, her other arm dragging along her little girl, who is gripping Mom’s wrist with both hands, desperately hoping that she doesn’t slip off. I wanted to help her somehow.

Maybe she was thinking about the woman in the gospel story who was suffering from a bleeding condition for all those years, and with great determination, she pushed her way through a huge crowd because all she wanted to do was touch Jesus’ robe. She knew he could heal her. Jesus is walking down the street, mobbed by people all around him, like chaotic paparazzi following his every move. She keeps pushing, persisting, probably getting bruised from being kicked and shoved in the process. She gets close enough and desperately grabs out for him. And then Jesus says, “Who touched me?” The disciples, trying to be good bodyguards, are probably annoyed, and they say, “What are you talking about? Everyone touched you! You’re in a freakin’ mosh-pit of people trying to get a piece of you!” But Jesus knew some kind of power went out of him. He stops walking. He turns around. Everyone stops. What is he doing? Something’s going to happen. He sees the woman, zones in on her, and tells her she’s healed.

This woman sitting next to me in church that morning just wanted to get the same attention. She wanted to push through the crowds, the noise, the pressures, and just have Jesus pick her out, to see her pain, to notice her cries, to give her a break. So she’s hanging on by the hem of His garment. To me, it’s a beautiful way to describe the difficulties, the pressures, the barely-making-ends-meet periods we all go through in life. We question how we got here, how it all ended up like this, why it can’t be better. We pray and plead with God to save us from our wretched conditions, and sometimes it seems like he is walking away, or floating away, randomly pushed along by the masses of needs in the world other than our own. And then we reach out and grab him and all we catch is the hem of his garment. And we clutch on to it and don’t let go until he takes notice.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2009 9:39 am

    Greetings!

    This story is full of good energy brother Bradley. I was moved and felt God’s power go all the way through me to this mysterious woman. I saw Jesus turn to face her. I saw her healing and felt her faith. I saw you standing alongside her clutching the same garment. You see, it wasn’t about her or you or me. It was about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! It’s always about Him (who He is and what He did [does]). And, to remain true to your theme, Jesus Christ is always our point of authenticity!

    Rejoice!

  2. February 1, 2009 4:16 pm

    lightness

  3. February 1, 2009 5:57 pm

    Jesus does bring us to raw and real. How wonderful that the two of you could connect on the power of the Lord where we need Him most.

    I long for church to be genuine and that our schedules will have enough flexible space that this moment you shared with this woman won’t be so rare.

    Keep writing! You feed my soul.

  4. February 2, 2009 8:17 pm

    It’s interesting how rare it is that we share such things in church, where we should know we will be welcomed and supported.
    Thanks for your beautiful story. I could feel the fibers.

  5. February 3, 2009 8:15 pm

    Amen! I feel this too, as a single mom. I am sooo glad to have a wonderful and growing relationship with Jesus, I don’t know how I could have made it without him. I know I couldn’t and so did he. I love Him sooooo! He’s all I ever want and need for myself and my daughter. God bless! Robin

  6. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    February 3, 2009 9:38 pm

    For all you single Moms (Hey Robin!) — This one’s for you!
    Okay, and it’s for the rest of us too, because we’ve all been there at some point in our lives.

    Hang on!

  7. February 5, 2009 2:56 am

    Refreshing. Touching. Powerful. I read this with as much appreciation as I’ve read anything recently. Also checked out your “shrinking camel” explanation. Sounds to me as if you have a brain and a heart. Connected. And functioning. After visiting your blog and spending a bit of time with you and your “guests” I feel even more honored (even, perhaps, intimidated) by your dropping by my humble internet abode occasionally!
    Seriously, great job! And ditto for your respondents (what do you call us?). ~donkimrey

  8. February 15, 2009 12:56 pm

    As a full time single father of eighteen years. Single dads often get overlooked it seems especially by fellow Christ followers it seems. I appreciated this story and I have spent the last 18 years hanging to the hem of Jesus garment and he seems to be the only one who notices.

  9. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    February 15, 2009 4:17 pm

    Tom – Thanks for the Reality-Check! I so appreciate your comment and the fact that you spoke up here. Like I said before, we’ve all been to those points of desparation, but life for single Dads must be especially challenging – just as challenging as for single Moms.

    Thanks for dropping in, speaking up, and getting noticed.

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