Bruises seem to be part of life’s package to us. Some will be serious, most minor. But each are noted, and some will just have to be endured.
Dancers are some of the most wonderful people I know. Their gracefulness can be seen both on and off the stage. I know this is far from easy. By choosing to become dancers they have made a decision to absorb pain. Their toes and feet are blistered and bruised; they take constant abuse. Some must live with chronic tendinitis. Their feet bleed sometimes, and pain is their constant companion. Two things to consider.
They choose to dance. Dancers have an iron-will and a elegant grace. I suppose that is why they can dance.
The scars and bruises often become “badges of honor.” And they wouldn’t have it any other way. They would rather dance in pain, than not to dance at all.
Someone once compared depression as a “mental bruise.” I understand this. As depressed people, we must choose to walk out our lives from this pain. I know what it is like to bury myself in my bed for several weeks. My own mental bruise was simply more than I could take. There was a sensation of sinking into blackness, a sense of total and complete despair. I felt completely lost, and completely alone.
I prayed. I groaned, and I prayed. My sense of being totally lost was beyond comprehension. Dear reader, this was something quite real, and you must become aware of these things. Some of your friends are suffering. And it is a hellish and desperate depression.
To my Christian friends. Yes, I believe Jesus died for all my sins. He has forgiven me of much evil, I know that will live for eternity (with you). But mental illness is real, and like other illnesses it seldom is caused by evil or Satan. We would never say that diabetics are that way because of the enemy. Now the dark one will surely exploit it, but I think you give him far too much credit if you suggest he was able to initiate it. Satan just doesn’t have the spiritual “voltage.”
So, inspired by my dancing friends, and the Holy Spirit– I will make the choice to dance again. I’m pretty bruised, but I will try to ignore the pain. I would exult in my God, walk in His love, “leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2.)
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
I have always loved to read. I was given books by my mother, and these books were like gold. I had been a avid patron of the library, but terrible at returning books. I had pretty much been branded as “persona non grata” at the ripe old age of 12. (I think the librarians had orders to shoot to kill.)
I have fond memories of some fine books. But perhaps the most influential of them all was a title called, “Frederick” by Leo Lionni. It won the ’68 Caldecott ‘back in the olden days.’ It very well could be one of best children’s books ever written. ( I realize now that many of these books that shaped me were prophetic in their own way.)
We see Frederick, who is a young field mouse, off on excursion to find food with his four brothers. They must fill their pantry for the cold winter that’s coming. They are quite successful (it appears) and all seems well.
However, there is a bit of a problem with Frederick. While the other mice are ‘busting their mouse-butts’ he sits quietly thinking. They question him repeatedly, trying to motivate him (or shame him perhaps?) There seems to be a general consensus against him, which is verging on open warfare.
But Frederick insists that he is needed to do this. He says that he is ‘working’. He is collecting sunlight, absorbing it until it’s needed. He absorbs colors, and then words. He just seems soak up these really wonderful experiences, and he seems a bit “clueless” (that’s not the right word), maybe a bit “preoccupied.”
Finally in the dead of winter, sheltered deep underground, their supplies are running low. One of the mice turns to Frederick, and asks him to share what he has collected. And he does precisely that. They sit in a circle and Frederick shares the sunlight, and the rich colors and the beautiful words he has stored up for them. Their little ‘mouse-hearts’ are deeply touched by Frederick’s contribution.
In so many ways, this has become a parable, or metaphor of my life. As a eight year old, I could hardly have foreseen how my life would unfold. I do however had a deep sense of being different, even then. My mental illness, mixed with being “gifted”, and then combined with being isolated and impoverished, worked in me.
Essentially, we all are products of our personal history. What we have experienced good or bad develops us. It did me. I think what “Frederick” wants to do for us is to process uniqueness, giftings and steadfastness. One of the things that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me for the last few years is this, “Bryan, can you receive the giftedness of other believers?”
We really must make room for “Fredericks” and what they can bring to us. We will be drastically weakened if we won’t– or can’t. Jesus faced a ton of resistance as He began to minister. There is nothing new about that. But it didn’t touch His spirit.
“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42, ESV
I tend to over-think things a lot. Everything gets so darn complicated. Often there is ‘a paralysis of analysis’ that gels into something stagnant and murky. I am definitely not the decisive person I admire from a distance. My illness is such that I can easily become “immobilized” in making simple decisions.
But I am aware of my desperate need of Christ Himself. My many issues demand a ‘heavy duty’ Savior, one who is capable of handling them. I guess I have tried many ‘gods’ and I haven’t found any of them who can take the load like Jesus can.
All that He has done in the Gospels, and all that He does presently declares to me his trustworthiness and power. My admiration for Christ as my Savior and Deliverer is written on the pages of the Bible. His present day ministry to me (and many others) is consistent with what I read about him in the Word.
And it is amazingly simple, when you think it through. He lived, died, and rose again for those ‘rebels’ who deserve death. The simplicity is profound. I do not have to be a Nobel Prize winner to understand. Without cheapening ‘redemption’ He has reduced things to a straightforward idea. He dies in my place, and now gives me his life to live.
I want to listen to Him. I want to come so close that I can hear the very inflection of his voice when he does speak to me. You see, we are built as communicators, and that is the part that ‘small gods’ can’t provide. They’re merely ‘dead idols.’
I so want to please him, even if he corrects me.
I want to learn at his feet, just as Mary did at her home in Bethany. Often I feel like I will probably be ‘the least of all the disciples’, but I’m okay with that. After all, it’s all about Him.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”