The woman bent over double for 18 years had a certain image of herself. She was the woman no one cared about. The one no one knew what to do with. The person people talked over, or around, but rarely did anyone speak directly to her. She was the woman for whom there was no hope for a cure. Everything she had tried had failed. Maybe she thought she was a failure, that her life was wasted.

When Jesus called her over to him and she straightened up at his word, able to stand up and see and return to the community, she regained her identity. She learned who she was directly from Jesus. His was the first face she saw and his eyes told her that she was respected and loved. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees who complained about his having cured on the Sabbath, he didn’t refer to her as “this cripple,” or “this woman.” He called her, “this daughter of Abraham.” He restored her to her place in salvation history, one of the children of Abraham promised to the great Patriarch when God took him out and, directing him to look at the sky, said, “As many as the stars of heaven and the sands of the seashore shall your children be” (cf. Genesis 15:5). He had bent over in mercy because he loved her. He tenderly reached out to her because she was precious.

At this moment this daughter of Abraham discovered that all she had thought about herself had had no truth in reality. This concept created from patched together thoughts and memories and fears and sorrows was simply a product of the coming and going of her thoughts and emotions. Only in Jesus’ face could she see who she truly was. Only in his love for her could she have an experiential discovery of the preciousness of her life.

Similarly, the fearful prospect of Angie’s divorce, of being alone, began in her a spiral of thoughts. What will happen to the kids? How will I find a job in my condition? Why didn’t I see this coming? I’m not good enough for him. What should I have done better? What could have made a difference? Angie’s thoughts were the building blocks of the self-image she was beginning to create. We are all like children. Like children we believe what we think. If a child thinks she is ugly she believes it to be true. If a child thinks he is superman, he believes it to be so. That’s why it was important with Angie to break through her swirling thoughts with the light of Jesus’ face.

You can speak directly to Jesus about your feelings triggered by the situations you are in. You can tell God what you think about yourself as a result of what you have lived. When you have finished, it is important to watch Jesus. Our eyes do not fool us. We can think that God doesn’t hear our prayer because we can’t “hear” his voice, or he doesn’t “do” what we asked him to. But if you simply watch him, Jesus is free to do the unexpected, to surprise you with something only he could think of. So Jesus played chess with Angie. Such a remarkably intimate gesture said more to Angie about Jesus’ love for her, than imagining him saying this to her, or reading about God’s love in a book.

Jesus wants to get very personal with you. So get personal with him and give him that chance.

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