I recently heard a sermon based on Luke 13:10-17.
This is one of Jesus’ healing stories.
It’s also one of Jesus’ civil disobedience stories, as he was healing on the Sabbath.
There’s a lot to extrapolate in these few verses, but on this particular day, I was listening to a sermon by Allen Pruitt. He’s the rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in LaGrange, Georgia. Allen never ceases to amaze me with his insights and his view of healing through love and through giving up our spoken and unspoken rules that perpetuate our suffering. And Allen didn’t let me down this particular Sunday.
So Jesus is in a crowd and calls out to a woman who is bent over. Allen points out that we don’t know this woman’s name. She’s known only as the bent over woman. In fact, when I googled the story, I realized that this is, in fact, how we still know her. But Jesus didn’t see the woman’s illness as her identity. He saw something different. He called her to him, called her a “daughter of Abraham”. He healed her.
He sees her Truth. He sees her Buddha Nature. He relates to her from that place and from that place she is healed.
This story struck me because I see this principle in action in therapy. People come in with their stories of suffering and deficit, of brokenness and pathology. But imbedded in these stories are examples of strength, moments of compassion, dedication, courage or insight. It’s all there in the telling, but in their suffering they cannot see their strengths.
But as an outside observer, I can. And I point this out; that right there in the middle of all the darkness and damage, suffering and shame, is a larger truth. And there is always the Truth of their innate worth. When I point this out, when I relate to people from their strengths, it calls this forth and their own healing can begin.
I’ve seen this at work in my own children. If you have children you know those stages when everything they do seems wrong. You seem to be stuck in endless criticism and nagging. But in those moments, when I’ve spent time walking with them, playing with them and just being with them I find their strengths, their larger truth. Drawing attention to this, calling it forth, is more effective than all of the criticizing and consequences.
In her book, Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach addresses the ways we get caught up in what she calls “the trance of unworthiness” when we can only see our own deficits; all the ways we’re failing.
Listen to your language, to all the words you speak out loud and in your head. Are you calling forth the good, the strengths, the healing for yourself, your children, your partner, your family and friends, your community? Or are you trapped in the habit of criticism and negativity?
Be mindful of your words this month, both spoken and unspoken.
What are you calling forth?