December 31, 2012 — I’ve never been a prostitute. Or been demon-possessed. Or lived with five different men. I’ve been a pretty good girl, not troubled with unseemly secrets.
And that’s my problem. Good girls like me read the stories of the women Jesus encountered during his ministry. We’re happy that Jesus intercepted them, thankful for his sensitivity and wisdom, grateful for his healing power. But somehow those stories don’t seem to connect with mine. They stay on the pages of my Bible. If I’m honest, I feel a bit left out. I don’t have that “aha” encounter. I haven’t experienced that same gift of Jesus’ freeing, healing grace.
I’d like to know how it feels to be so lavishly thankful that pouring oil worth a year’s salary seems perfectly reasonable. I wonder where the no-holds-barred living, the can’t-keep-my-mouth-shut exuberance comes from. But I’m one of the good girls, and I don’t have those lows and highs.
Then I look at the story of the good and faithful woman with a gynecological problem that vexed her for 12 years. She’s caught in a nasty web of Mosaic laws and cultural expectations that isolates her from most everyday activities.
Her story helps me realize that good girls are just as needy as any of the women Jesus encountered. We just don’t always know it. We’re just as hurt, just as plagued, but differently—perhaps in ways we don’t usually discuss in Bible studies or announce in the church bulletin.
Though unwelcome, the woman breaks into a crowd. Jesus notices. Turning, he calls her “Daughter” and says her faith has healed her, adding, “Go in peace.”
Why? Because that woman needed healing for so much more than her bleeding issues. Jesus knew that she had been isolated for 12 years, and he understood how it affected her.
Feelings of bitterness, jealousy, anger, shame, and worthlessness come immediately to mind—poisonous feelings that don’t allow a person to thrive. All those feelings needed healing too.
So Jesus offers the woman peace—completeness. Grace with all its wholeness, health, tranquility, welfare, harmony, and joy.
Long before he suffered, died, and was buried, long before he rose again, Jesus offered peace to those in need of it.
And that’s where good girls come in.
Good girls can be jealous, judging, covetous, controlling, demanding, needing to please. They harbor bitterness, anger, resentments. The difference is that good girls are very good at camouflaging those feelings. Good girlsare good at doing good things.
It’s only when I realize that my quiet, controlled, good-girl heart needs healing just as much as my sisters who act out their bad behavior that I finally hear Jesus call me “Daughter.” When I confess the hidden junk in my heart, I receive Jesus’ blessing: “Go in peace.” It’s the same lavish grace that Jesus offers those who embrace overtly destructive behaviors. We stand in the same need of healing.
I will never be able to live in the fullness of Jesus’ grace if I don’t name my hurts, dysfunctions, resentments, and stuffed feelings and ask Jesus to shine the light of his mercy and healing grace right there.
I know there are more good girls longing for grace. After I lead a seminar or retreat, I hear from them. They describe a sense of loss, of missing out, of feeling a bit jealous of their sisters who have encountered and embraced the lavish grace of Jesus when he met them in their “not-goodness.”
To all of us, Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith in trusting me with everything, including all those gnawing attitudes and buried feelings—that faith heals you. Go in peace.”
That’s living in grace.