Good morning, New Women. We're finally leaving Galilee today, but I want to say one more thing about forgiveness, and this arises from your amazing and honest comments. Please, my loves, do not ever stuff your emotions so you can forgive. It doesn't work that way. The only way out of anger and hurt is to go THROUGH it. When we try to get on top of it, it's still there. If we go through it, experience it, own it, we leave it behind. Just because the thought of someone who has hurt you or your family makes you want to cry or throw something all over again doesn't mean you aren't in the process of forgiving. Feel it all the way through so there's nothing left, and then you'll be able to move on. Bitterness happens when you cram those feelings into a corner and pretend they're not there. This is different from wallowing. Wallowing is "poor me." Working through is "I want a better me out of this." And as you pray, it becomes, "Poor person who hurt me. She/he must be in pain too to behave that way. "I hope that helps. Oh, and crying is always allowed here.
Okay, so I hope you're awake and ready because today we leave Galilee and follow Jesus to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. For a while it feels good to be on the road again, and we breathe in the spring air and feel the warmth of the sun on our skin. Or is that the inner warmth Jesus has instilled in us?
But then crowds start to form and follow us, so that sometimes it's hard to see our Lord in the midst of all the people. Some of us get sort of testy about that. What's with the mob? This is OUR trip with OUR Jesus. We liked it better when it was just us.
But then one of us notices -- and passes the word -- that these people aren't just horning in on our road trip. Most of them have brought somebody who needs to be healed in a major way. We watch with as much awe as everyone else each time Jesus stops and gets a polio victim on her feet again or opens the eyes of a blind guy or restores a woman who seems to be half dead. We sort of have to accept the crowds because, really, who wouldn't want to be around him?
But the people who really get on our nerves (especially yours?) are those egotistical Pharisees. We always thought these leaders of the church knew everything when it came to Scripture and how we're supposed to live under God, but compared to Jesus, they don't know a blame thing. And they aren't that happy about that -- as in, they're bordering on angry all the time.
"Check this out," one of us whispers to the others. "They're trying to test Jesus."
"Are they serious?" someone else says. "Do they actually think they can catch him in a trap?"
We watch as Jesus fields challenges about marriage and divorce and children and we give each other a thumbs up every time the Pharisees grit their teeth until their jaw muscles twitch. You show 'em, Jesus!
And then a young man emerges from the crowd. Not a Pharisee. Just an attractive guy, well-dressed, obviously comes from money. He actually seems sincere when he asks Jesus what he has to do to have eternal life. This doesn't sound like a question meant to trap Jesus so we all lean in to hear the answer.
Some of us figure we know the answer already. You believe Jesus is the savior and you're good to go, right? Still, we listen because our experience so far has been that Jesus will explain what that actually LOOKS like in a life.
And Jesus does. He tells the young man that he has to follow the commandments. The guy grins ear-to-ear because he's always followed the church rules. In addition to the original ten, he also doesn't cuss, drink, have sex (he's not married yet), watch R-rated movies, or listen to anything but religious music. He's so clean it practically hurts your eyes to look at him in the sunlight.
We look at each other and shrug. We do that too, for the most part. Some of us throw in "I don't wear a bikini to the beach" or "I try not to even think about dating until I'm ready to get married," and nod that we actually feel pretty much like this young guy.
Jesus is nodding the whole time. He even nods at us. Yes! We're good!
And then, of course, he knocks us off balance yet again as he says to the young man, "If you really want to follow me and have true union with God, here's what you need to do."
You could a pin drop to the dust in the crowd as everyone waits. Who doesn't want to know this, right?
"Sell your possessions," Jesus says, "And give the money to the poor. Then you'll have treasure built up for yourself in heaven -- that is, in your oneness with God."
The young man's face sags. So do his shoulders. Without a word to Jesus, he turns and walks away. We can see tears starting to form in his eyes.
Some of us are feeling the pinch of that because we know Jesus is talking to all of us. Those of us who have a lot of stuff are especially uncomfortable. Others are thinking, "I don't really have much money and 'things' so I guess this doesn't apply to me."
But Jesus takes us off by ourselves, into a cool, dark chapel at the side of the road, while the crowd disperses, muttering among themselves.
"This applies to everyone," he says. "Whatever you're holding onto that is more important to you than God, let it go. And not only that -- turn it around so that it can do some good."
"Are you all about your body image? Love God more than your image of thinness. Turn it around, into an interest in being healthy and fit, and perhaps helping little kids get out and moving."
"Are you more interested in being perfect in other people's eyes than in God's? Give up the approval of the popular girls or the demanding coach or even the high-pressure parents and concentrate on being the person God made you to be, which is NOT all things to all people."
He tilts his head as he watches us struggle. "I know this is hard, but am I asking you to do it alone?"
We shake our heads.
"First, talk to me, talk to God -- in whatever way prayer works for you. In your journal. On your knees. Through a drawing.
"Then talk to each other -- this body of New Women God has given you. "
And so we do that. In our comments we talk about that ONE THING that always comes up like a pile of stuff between who we are in God and who we try to be for the world. How can we get rid of it for the good?
I'm right there with ya.