Although today’s post can stand alone, it was written hand in hand with yesterday’s. If you haven’t read it already, let me encourage you to carve a few extra minutes into your day and read it before moving on.
On that dreaded day, January 23rd of 1987, when I was 17 and and 5 months old, I left my childhood home of Viña del Mar, Chile, arguably, the worst and saddest day of my life. Walking up those steps ready to board that plane was a snapshot of perhaps the most iconic moment of my life, a dividing moment in time. That young girl was taking one last look at life as she knew it, and understood that the moment she forced her eyes to look forward, she would be walking into a whole new life, a whole new world, and nothing would ever be the same.
From that moment forward, I lived with little hope of ever belonging; I had been thrown into a different world, a new country that I had never claimed as my own, even though I was expected to do so. For the next 25 years, I lived in hesitation to water the soil where I had been transplanted. Everywhere I lived, at best, my roots were shallow, and always, my feet were restless, and my heart at the ready to wander away, wander back to where I thought I belonged.
I met the love of my life in 1989, an American man that was also born and raised in a foreign country, a man that rescued some of my hope and therefore my sanity; we married in Texas in 1991, and 2 years later moved to Tennessee. We started in Nashville, but eventually, slowly, scooted our way over to the eastern side of the state, where we lived from 1997 to 2011. During most of this time, I worked as a nanny, supported a husband through school, and birthed our two children; Mike and I bought our first house, and ended up living in the same community, raising our boys, for the last 10 of those 14 years. We were still young, and in love (we still are!), and very happy. Yet, through it all, for some reason, my heart never felt settled in.
Even with all of East Tennessee’s enchanted beauty, being a part of a fantastic church family, and an amazing school that my children had the privilege of attending, I never felt like I was home. My soul kept wanting to escape. My spirit ached to flee somewhere. I yearned to belong, because, in the United States, as an American with a Chilean soul through and through, I felt like a foreigner. Belonging eluded me, even in my own home, outnumbered by the male species, as I tentatively tried to raise two boys and function as a “normal” American mom.
For 25 years, I groaned to Jesus even though at that time, I hardly understood what was wrong with me. I only knew I was lonely and dissatisfied, and full of shame for feeling that way; after all, I had an amazing man that adored me, and we had two healthy boys that we adored together. Life should have been perfect, but it wasn’t.
And then, God answered my prayer. Why it took Him so long, is beyond me; but I live and rest in the assurance that His timing is perfect.
Four years ago, Jesus spoke to me through this story that I want to share with you today.
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)
Can I get an amen on the fact that this is just a really weird story? What’s up with spitting in a man’s eyes? Why would Jesus choose such crazy, unconventional means to heal this blind man? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that, but I can tell you that this is not the only time He used such unusual healing methods. To some, He just spoke into healing, for others, He rebuked the illness, commanded the person to act, or simply laid His hands on them. But He also healed another man’s blindness with a concoction of spit and dirt from the ground in John 9. And in Mark 7, He healed a man that was deaf and “could hardly talk” by placing his fingers in his ears, and then it says that He “spit and put his hand on his tongue.” Would it be blasphemous of me to say that Jesus did some pretty strange things?
As you can see, He does not use a “one prescription heals all” method. He has an individual remedy for each of us; and I love that about Him.
We are all wounded differently, and we come to Him to rescue us in different ways as well; we can come to Him in secret as did the woman that had the “blood issue” in Luke 8:43-48; or have our loved ones intercede on our behalf, as Jairus did for his daughter, as told in same chapter of Luke; or we can have people who care about us lead us to this Healer, as this blind man’s friends did. We each have our own stories to live, and eventually, our own stories to tell.
The story is weird enough if we left it there; but what also caught my attention in this story is the fact that at first glance it sure does look like Jesus has made a mistake. Seems to me, this man is only partially healed. I mean, he went from what we can assume to be complete blackness-blind to seeing men as trees, walking.
Close enough? I don’t think so.
Even as I pondered on the strangeness of it all, oddly, I seemed to find myself relating to this blind guy more and more.
For starters, Jesus takes the blind man by the hand and guides him outside the village. Although I could have been healed anywhere (as could have this blind guy), Jesus chose to take me by the hand and lead me outside of what was familiar to me, literally outside of my village to a completely different place. So, when God brought me to Texas five years ago, although I ultimately didn’t know what He was doing (but was just glad He had), He knew that this was the time and place where I would best begin feeling His healing hands upon me; as soon as we arrived, I started to feel real change taking place in my heart.
After leading the blind man out of the city and healing him, He says:
“Do you see anything?”
I love how Jesus checks in on him. Jesus is always, and has always been, pursuing me and continually checking in on me in this way. He asks me, “What do you see?” Most of the time, I feel as though I still see “men like trees.” In other words, I don’t think I’m seeing things clearly; I don’t think I am seeing myself clearly. Are men supposed to look like trees? Am I supposed to look like a tree? God has clearly laid His healing salve on my being; I see things (and myself) differently than I did before, but I’m not sure I see clearly yet.
But here is the best part.
He put his hands on his eyes again . . .
His healing never ends. I believe this from my own experience. Perfection and complete restoration will not be reached till we are with Him in heaven. For me, full belonging will never be complete till I go to my heavenly home. But right now, He keeps asking me every day, what do you see? When I see distortedly, when I feel homesick, lost, out of place, or insecure, I want His healing hands on me once again. And again, and again.
Slowly, very slowly, I have come to trust that it is okay to water my garden in the here and now, that it is safe to let my roots reach deep; that who I am is meant to flourish here, right now in Texas or anywhere he has placed me.
. . . and he made him look up.
My healing cannot take place by looking at men; they will look like trees. I cannot keep imitating them or comparing myself to them in order to understand who I am. I must look up; up toward my Father, up toward heaven, up to Jesus himself, the only one I should ever imitate, the only one in whom I will find my identity.
So I continue to look up, I continue to ask Christ on a daily basis to show me my heart, show me my motives, show me how He wants me to see the world and myself in it.
I look up to let my heart feel at peace and at home.
And he was restored and saw everything clearly.
My healing is a constant touch of the hands and spirit of Jesus as I continue to look up. That is where I am now. I am in the pause somewhere between the spit and heaven. Some days I just have to say, Lord, I see men like trees, walking. I need your touch as I look to heaven. I want to see things clearly.
Are you in need of some spit-healing? Are you waiting to see things clearly?
Don’t lose heart. Know that he is always checking in on you, and men will not always look like trees. Just remember to keep looking up. And also be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)