Welcoming interruption, welcoming transformation

“Transformation is real and it can make us into a woman we would never have imaged, a woman who feels at once like a stranger and a friend…”

I’ve run across a few things this week that brought up the topic of interruption…

A conversation with a directee and this insightful and concretely helpful blog post by Chris Corrigan.

As often happens with me, those thoughts connected to the story of a woman in Scripture, the woman with the hemorrhage. Her whole story is presented to us as an interruption for Jesus, sandwiched in the middle of the story of the healing of Jairus’ daughter. Just that fact says so much to me about who Jesus is: one with enough faith to be fully present to, welcome, and even use interruption.

In the context of pondering her story, I had another conversation with an old friend who has recently gone through a year of dramatic healing work.  We talked about how such seasons of healing rarely come in planned ways; they intrude, disrupt, and interrupt our lives.  I thought about my own story at age 35… I often call it an “earthquake”, earth-shattering disruption from within, rather than a hurricane, disruption from outside. Here’s how I describe it in My Own Worst Enemy:

About that time, I was reading a book on sexual abuse to help a teen in our church who was an abuse survivor. As the author described one of three different “self-protective relational styles,” I suddenly saw a description of my way of life in print. Though I have no recollection of abuse, I sure developed similar coping skills. I was struck to my core with unwelcome clarity and insight: all my utterly competent, duty driven doing good was little more than a mask. Though undoubtedly God had used it to some extent, it was not the real me.

“So, who am I?” That question was startling, painful, and actually felt shameful. How could I get to age 35 with so little self-understanding? It was utterly humbling to be so clueless when I had seen myself as so competent and mature. The terror of my vacancy of self-understanding held a very real temptation for me. I wanted to slam the door on this deeply disturbing change, to sabotage this nascent work of God. Yet, it was so clear that my way of being all these years was a sham that I could not bring myself to shut that door. For 35 years that mask had worked; but now it was crumbling much faster than I could ever have imagined. Other than naked and afraid, I had no idea who I was.

Excerpt Chapter Three, My Own Worst Enemy

In many ways, my own story followed the rhythms of the woman with the hemorrhage, a two step healing.  The first being the healing of the wound, the second being the equally important work of discovering who I truly was once that wound had been cared for. Transformation is real and it can make us into a woman we would never have imaged, a woman who feels at once like a stranger and a friend, a woman who interrupts our expectations of what our lives would be.

Taking the time to get to know her, to hear her story, is important work.  It is also important to note, however, that for many, the interruptive and painful nature of healing often leaves us needing help to find the inner resources to do the significant work of that second healing.  The woman with the hemorrhage had Jesus’ wisdom, patience, vision, and encouragement to continue on that journey as he stood in the road, waiting for her to come forward.  I had a supportive husband, good friends, and some really wonderful therapists. I hope to be that voice of gentle encouragement for my friend… and even for you.

So, what kind of interruptions are you meeting these days?  Internal?  External? How are you meeting them?

  • http://www.gailshowalter.com Gail Showalter

    Thank you so very much, Janet, for leading me to see that transformation is an opportunity to meet the ‘stranger’ and the ‘friend.’ Though I may feel as if the plates are shifting under my feet, I know that I can trust that I will stand firm in the future-on new ground.


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