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Posts tagged ‘healing’

Wounded, but put me in coach

This has been a rough year.

I was at the top of my game. Syndication going well. Published author. Travel writer. Catholic Liaison for Israel. Yes, Israel.

Traveling Catholic speaker. Keynotes and everything.

And wham. PTSD. Quit my job. I had stopped writing the year before–all but the blog. I still traveled to Israel, but on my own, a kind of personal and mostly quiet retreat.

The speaking engagements kept coming. And the Holy Spirit always showed up.

But in between, I was dry. No. That’s not quite right. I was broken. Hurt. Wounded.

I didn’t faint and collapse in the middle of the fifth inning, but it sure seemed like it. It seemed like they whisked me off the field and I found myself on the bench, disoriented, a little incoherent, but wanting to brush aside their arms and say, put me in. Come on. I’m okay. Just put me back in.

Only I wasn’t okay.

I wrote about this in my book. One day, I would be out of the Catholic hustle and bustle. God would call me to “higher elevations,” I wrote, “where the crowds don’t gather but the view is amazing.”

Only the view didn’t seem so amazing.

I just wanted to go back to what I knew. The familiar. And being busy made me feel like God liked me at least a little. He took joy in using me.

“Just sit there for a while. I’m taking you out of the game. Cheer on your teammates all you want. But there is no way you are going back out there for a while.”

That’s what it is like when you are a writer and you have absolutely nothing to write. You love the Eucharist, but you can’t seem to get yourself to be around people.

You go to Mass on Sunday and Adoration because there is nobody there but you and the Lord. The rest has become practically impossible.

You aren’t depressed.

At least you don’t think that’s it.

Only God knows. So He is telling you to sit there on that bench. It’s like you have the “Mysterious Malady” that some baseball players get. You suddenly can’t do all the things you once did. You don’t have the it-factor anymore.

Just fix me and put me back in. But that’s no good. That won’t work.

In the spiritual realm, God needs to spend some time on you, and you need to let Him do it. It isn’t that you are suddenly ill, you were a little screwed up the whole time. The Mysterious Malady is not so mysterious.

Once it gets quiet, once you are pulled out of the game for a bit, you begin to see the wounds. You remember the day a young man had a knife and sexually molested you. You realize it made you fear anyone who could overpower you.

You remember the nights your husband in the non-Sacramental marriage waited for you to fall asleep so he could take you without asking. You think of the night he did it on purpose because he knew you were in the middle of your cycle and you would get pregnant. He did it to control and manipulate fate – and you. You became angry when anyone did things behind your back that seemed to take advantage of you or sabotage your life in any way.

You have trust issues.

Yet you say, Jesus, I trust in You.

Let’s get to that. Let’s analyze it for a while.

And the only way to do that is to take away everything that keeps you busy — until you see.

Practice setting good boundaries on everyone you need to, except Jesus Christ. Learn that He can be trusted…even in the quiet. Even when writer’s block shows up for a whole year. Even when you aren’t sure about anything except Jesus and His Church.

You get back to your motel room, shut the door, and cry. Still wearing the team uniform, you stumble to the mirror.

I have a few wounds.

But the good news is that the coach is also the ultimate healer. He knows how to heal these wounds, and He also wants to put you back in more than you want to get back into the game.

You sit on a chair. Alone.

And then someone knocks on the door. The healer wants to come in. And you realize you desperately want that, too.

Remembering Seabiscuit

I can vividly remember two Christmas presents from December 2003. My daughter gave my father a plastic horse. Jennifer turned five right before Christmas that year, and she was determined that she would pick out and purchase a gift for everyone in the family. She didn’t want money or opinions from anyone. It was her year to be a giver. She chose a plastic horse at the dollar store and declared, “This one’s for Grandpa.”

I guess that Christmas was the Year of the Horse, because one of my older children received the movie Seabiscuit. On December 28th, we finished the evening meal and sat down to watch the movie as a family. The phone rang in the middle of our movie night, and I went to the bedroom to listen to the message as it recorded. It was my sister. She was calling to say that our dad had just passed away.

We turned off the movie, and we never went back to finish it. My mother gave Jennifer the plastic horse. “Here. Grandpa would want you to have it,” She said. Jennifer received the horse with a heavy heart

A few summers ago, I took a class on social justice through the Paul VI Institute in St. Louis. Today, the instructor showed us a clip of a movie. Mr. Kraus reminded us that our lives mirror the theme of the movie: we have risen from broken lives to discover what we were meant to be – who we are meant to be. Sometimes, we are pretty beat up by the world. We are so screwed up, sometimes, that we have forgotten that we have human dignity. We don’t remember that we are made in the likeness of God. And we fail to realize that our neighbor is God’s special creation as well.

And then he pressed play. The movie was Seabiscuit.

I swallowed hard and permitted the images and lines to wash over me. This was the movie I had refused to watch for nearly a decade.

God seemed to say, it’s okay. You’re ready, and you know it.

This amazing line hit me. “I just can’t help feeling they got him so screwed up, running in circles, that he’s forgotten what he was born to do. He just needs to learn how to be a horse again.”

There was a peace in my spirit as I listened. Denise, you are Seabiscuit. The world did its number on you and you got pretty screwed up. God needed to get your attention, and that was painful. But there was an important lesson to be learned in the dying and brokenness. You needed to learn how to be the one I created you to be. You had forgotten who you are.

I was created in the image and likeness of God! There is a dignity there. I am not created for sin or bitterness or confusion or anger or selfishness or exploitation by anybody. I am made to be Christ to the world. To be His mercy. His love. His joy!

I carry the mark of the risen Christ!

But I had forgotten that.

I am an oblation. An offering back to my God. I am a libation. A pouring out of self for another.

In that same scene, Seabiscuit takes off and runs with such beauty and grace and strength that the jockey (Tobey McGuire) yells out,

“You are an amazing animal!”

Ten years ago today, we paused the movie and began a season of grieving. In time, that grief turned to conversion. And conversion awakened me to my calling.

I remembered how to run with grace.

I can hear my Jockey sometimes. He says, “Okay, let’s see what you’ve got.” And, like Tobey McGuire, He laughs then and throws back His head, shouting with joy. “You are an amazing creation!”

Like Seabiscuit, there is a sweet release in each one of us when we realize that we are being healed. We run faster than we ever believed we could. Isaiah says it best in chapter 61. I proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. This is your vindication by your God. He will give you the oil of gladness. . . a mantle instead of a faint spirit. . . the planting of the Lord to show his glory.

Okay, so let’s see what you’ve got. It’s time to remember who you are.

Giddy-up.