My mom is an avid watcher of Christian TV. She’s navigated through all the preachers, found her favorites, and stuck with them over the years. Tonight, about fifteen minutes after we said goodnight to each other and went our separate ways, I heard her call for me upstairs. She was watching a show she wanted me to see.
I turned on the TV in the living room, honestly expecting to be bored out of my mind. But here was this man, Mark Chironna, who was talking about the process of becoming the person we made to be. He talked about the story of the paralytic who was brought to Jesus by his friends to be healed.
If you haven’t ever read the story, read it here. Basically, Jesus sees the man’s condition – that he is paralyzed, clearly unable to move. Jesus knew what the man and his friends were expecting. They were expecting a miracle, a healing just like they had seen and heard of countless other times. Yet Jesus’ response wasn’t to heal the man. Instead he said, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Completely absurd response given the situation. After all, the man hadn’t even confessed to any sins. All he wanted was to be able to walk again and Jesus had the power to make him walk in an instant. While everyone else saw only the physical ailments of the man, Jesus saw what was truly crippling him in the deepest parts of his heart:
He needed to hear and believe that even though he had blown it, even though he messed up big time, he was forgiven. He didn’t need to feel dirty and ashamed and worthless anymore. The only one in the room with the power to condemn him was setting him free.
The point of Mark Chironna’s talk was that sometimes all that’s standing between who are we today and who we long to be are the lies we let cripple us. He said to imagine what would happen if for a mere 24 hours we didn’t once devalue ourselves in our minds. Didn’t second-guess, didn’t ridicule, didn’t criticize. Nothing would be impossible to us because we would finally get it. We would see that we are capable, powerful, beautiful, handsome, intelligent, talented, creative, glorious. We would embrace our dreams without doubting our abilities to live them out.
After Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven, the Pharisees – who would be the uptight, religious folk of today – began to think to themselves, “This guy is probably the Antichrist. No one forgives sins.” Of course, Jesus reads their minds and in response to their unbelief, he heals the paralytic. The man gets up and walks away.
He healed him inside first, then he healed him on the outside. So often I’m impatient to be that woman I envision in my head who is farther along on this journey of healing and growth than I am. I need patience to sit before Him and let Him fix the deepest, darkest parts of me. I need to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in the deepest places of my own heart before I am free to be that dream woman. For it is out the depths of my healed, restored heart that new life will begin to flow.
When I think about healing and growth, I’m often thinking about external, quantifiable things. Things that I’m doing better than I used to. “I was a little more vulnerable with so and so today” or “I gave my opinion when it was asked instead of hiding.” But He is not concerned with outward appearances; he looks at my heart. What did I believe about myself today? Did I trust Him in the little things? Did I devalue His prize, His treasure today?
I can’t express to you how much I needed to hear that fifteen minute sermon today. Here I’ve been, laying before Jesus asking Him to help me grow up into the woman He created me to be. And I’ve been keeping track of my growth, like a doting parent who measures their child every so often and marks the new height on the wall. Except I end up discouraged thinking I should have grown more, learned more, changed more. And all the while he’s been trying to tell me that he needs me to be still; stop doing long enough to let him heal me inside so I can start being. He’s been saying, “Take heart, daughter; you are worthy of love.” He doesn’t want me just acting like the woman I was created to be, doing the things that she would do. He wants me to be that woman, inside and out.