I have been hurting for so long. My body, once lithe and strong, is now frail and unreliable. I feel like a stranger to myself. This illness, which once brought empathy, now isolates me. The town calls me unclean and crosses the road when they see me coming. Even simple joys seem like a thing of the past. Each day when I wake up, I tell myself that somehow, I’ll be fine. That somehow the pain in my body won’t overwhelm me. That somehow the wailing in my soul will quiet.
Doctors, who are supposed to help me, have not. Instead, they have used me to feel powerful, as if they know what to do. Their therapies weaken and wound me. Their betrayals agitate my spirit. Friends are a thing of the past. A luxury for those who don’t have prolonged pain. A solace for those whose problems are easily solved. But I miss them. Deeply. Some days their absence settles on me like a heavy cloak I can’t take off in the muggy weather.
Walking my usual slow route to the market, I notice men running. I recognize women too, tripping and stumbling as they race to the lake.
“What’s happening?” I call out.
“It’s that guy, Jesus! He’s landing here! In our village!”
It takes a moment for the words to register. The man. The healer. Suddenly, my breathing is suspended. My heart pounds. Stomach seizes. Frozen, I stand in the road, paralyzed by hope. Do I try again? I don’t know if my heart can take another betrayal. Do I dare? What if I don’t?
Working my way down to the crowd, I carefully slide through the masses working my way behind him. Carefully inching forward, I feel the trembling in my hands. Do I dare touch him?
I touch one tip of my finger to the very bottom of his robe.
I don’t know how to describe what happened. Light pulsed through my body sweeping away all the insidious tentacles of the illness that was destroying me. Energy followed into all the crevices of my body, bursting life inside me like I hadn’t felt in a long, long time.
“Who touched me?”
The minute he spoke, my heart froze again. The energy didn’t leave, but it subsided. The light dimmed. I didn’t do it right. I didn’t ask. I should have. He’s mad. What if he takes it all away? Just don’t move. Be very still. Maybe he will give up and go away. Maybe I can still have my healing.
“Was it you?” he asked, first to one, then another, then another, and another.
I couldn’t stand it. How could I let someone else get in trouble for what I did?
“I did it. I touched you.”
He turned around and just looked at me. And I looked back. My body was sweating and trembling. It was all I could do to hold his gaze. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
“I touched you.”
And then, right in front of everybody, he touched me! I hadn’t felt the touch of another person in so long. I didn’t know what else to say. Didn’t know what to do.
“You brave, brave girl. I’m so proud of you for reaching out. I’m so glad you didn’t let hope die. Your faith has made you well.”
No one said a word. I couldn’t speak. Couldn’t do anything more than just look at him dumbfounded. Relief flooded me, rooted me to the spot. I just stood there as he turned and continued on.
His words sank in later, slowly, gradually. Like a beautiful, found treasure that is all mine. I rolled them over and over in my mind. Gazed at them in my heart. He is proud of me. He thinks I’m brave.
Those words stay with me way down deep.
You don’t have to do everything right or be in good shape for him to be pleased. So different than what I know.
–Story adapted from Luke 8:40-48