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There’s this story about Jesus where He’s on the way to heal the daughter of an important community leader. He’s walking with this huge crowd of people pressing in all around Him. Basically an introvert’s nightmare, but also a pretty typical day for Jesus. But then something odd happens--suddenly Jesus is aware that somebody has touched Him. He says something to the disciples and naturally they are confused--Gah Jesus, you have about fifty people touching you right now (my paraphrase). But He persists, saying power has gone out from Him. 

Then this woman, timid and afraid to approach, comes forward as the one who touched Him. She tells the whole crowd the story of her shame. She has been bleeding for twelve years. She spent all of her money and time on doctors. Nothing has worked, and she is an outcast. But as soon as she touched Jesus, she was healed. Let me just point out here that this woman had no right to touch Jesus. She would’ve been known as an “untouchable.” That is, someone who would mess up the holiness of a respected teacher like Jesus. Yet Jesus is not upset with her for disrupting His cleanliness. Instead He responds to her saying, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!” (The Message).

This story has taken different angles of meaning for me over the past ten years of my life. At first, I was struck by how Jesus honors this woman by paying attention to her. A few years ago, this story struck me from the perspective of the woman. Did I have the faith she has in this moment? What would I want enough to push through a crowd of (likely) smelly men to risk shame and ridicule by touching Jesus? But today it took on a new meaning for me.

Last week I saw pictures of myself from a holiday party--and I hated them. I look at them and all I can see is how fat I’ve become. I cried after looking through them, lamenting that I can’t seem to get any control over my body. I am capable of so much, but maintaining an acceptable size is not something I can do. I feel angry and ashamed. So I was praying about that today, and I felt like God brought this story of the bleeding woman to mind. Didn’t she feel disgusting? Wasn’t she frustrated that she could not control her body? This illness affected her daily life--it dictated what public places she could enter. It kept her from having a social life. It likely prohibited her from the joys of marriage and children. In many ways, I can relate.

So here I am wondering what it looks like for me to take a risk trusting Jesus with my body the way that this woman did. Maybe it starts with believing my body--deeply affected by the realities of sin--is worth loving. Believing that Jesus deems my physical body as something worth fixing up for the resurrection of the saints. It’s perhaps not worthless and shameful, but priceless and God-honoring.

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Thought I’d start off today with a light question...What’s your greatest source of shame? What about yourself makes you recoil with disgust, makes you want to dig a hole and never come out of it?

Maybe that doesn’t feel like a very light question. 

My consistent source of shame has always been my overly large body. I knew that I should feel shame about that from an early age, before I knew much else.  I’d like my body to be invisible; instead it has always taken up more space than I want it to. 

As I’ve processed this shame I feel about my physical body, there’s a physicality of the Gospel that I’ve found very important. God manifested Himself in the imperfect body of Jesus. We know it was imperfect because it was a body. At the death of Christ, there is absolute shame and humiliation as His unclothed, beaten body is put on display for all to see. Then that same body is resurrected from the dead. It gains some mystical qualities like being able to walk through walls, yet Jesus’ body keeps the shame of His pierced hands and side. In that way, He bears the shame of His cursed death for all of eternity, while our bodies are given a different promise. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (vv 42-43). 

Another angle is found in Song of Solomon, one of the weirder parts of Scripture. This book, connects with the deep desire to be with someone who sees all of me, every inch of my physical imperfection, and loves it...loves it so much he wants to write poetry about each part. If a mere mortal can love that much, how much more can God love my imperfect self? 

These passages teach me that, because Jesus bore shame on His body, I no longer need to feel shame about mine. Shame speaks of living under a law of perfection, which is what Christ came to set us free from. As with all of me, Jesus looks upon my body and deems it worthy of love. I try to punish it, shame it for not being good enough. He does the very opposite. He deems it good and desirable and worthy of love simply for existing. And more than that, He promises to perfect it completely one day, not because of anything I’ve done, but because He paved the way by taking my shame. 

So what is your greatest source of shame? What would it mean for Jesus to know that same shame, to have compassion and empathy on the most intimate level? How does a God who loves you unconditionally speak to your shame today? 

This question can become light in the light of Jesus. With Him, we can look upon our shame, our guilt, our curses, and laugh. We can dance instead of mourning. Our tears can turn to laughter. 

The invitation is simple: don’t hide behind your shame; present it to Him for healing. 


WHEN I USED TO LIVE IN San Francisco, we spent a lot of time talking about good spaces--and how much they cost. I work from home, so I am often looking for good coffee shops to sit in. The best ones have a good amount of seating, available outlets, good food and coffee, and free wifi. And natural light! I’ll probably pay at least an extra dollar for coffee if there’s good light. 

Physical spaces are easy to talk about, but what about metaphysical spaces? These are what we deal with as we fumble around the spiritual life. That’s why it can be difficult to talk about spirituality sometimes. It feels insufficient when it gets boiled down to theological terms, when there is this profound experience that many of us have when we encounter God. Think about the many people who encountered Jesus after the resurrection. I feel pretty sure they weren’t thinking about the nature of Jesus’ divinity. They were excited to be back with the Person whom they dearly loved. I imagine they were delighted to simply be sharing physical space with Him again. As a Christian, the center of my religion is my own encounter with the risen Lord. 

I’d love for you to take 5-10 minutes to try a simple imaginative exercise. Get yourself into a comfortable spot with minimal distractions (turn your phone on silent and put it in the other room). 

Close your eyes and use your imagination. If there were a space where you were going to meet with God, what would it look like? What would it feel like? 

Allow yourself to be surprised in what you imagine. Your space might be empty or full of boxes. Your space might be really fun and exciting, or maybe quiet and serene. 

What do you see around you? Are you in a room or outside? What’s the temperature like? Do you smell anything? Take some time to imagine this space and ask God to meet you there--maybe, like after the resurrection, Jesus will meet you there. 

Exploring these images with people has been one of the greatest privileges of my work. I am often so delightfully surprised by the way this exercise gives people words to describe and talk about their relationship with God. It’s beautiful to get to be a witness to the variety of ways people experience Him. This is one of the greatest gifts of being a spiritual director. 

Share this with a friend who will try this exercise with you! Then shoot me an email and let me know about the experience. I’d love to hear about it!

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