I can’t tell you how many times I ask the question “How are you?” and receive the reply, “I am blest.” Often it is a woman who answers that way. Sometimes the men do. I have heard it said as in thanksgiving, as a reminder that within all the worry and sorrow, there are blessings. But sometimes, it is offered more as a challenge, almost as a dare to dispute it. I hear within that dare a pronouncement of “I AM WORTHY AND YOU BEST KNOW IT NOW.”
That most recent statement was declared by a man. He said, “I am blest by the grace of God who makes me whole.” It came with a sideways glance to see how I took the statement. There was a look of something that could not be noted as love on his face. There he was, a black man, taking what he considered to be charity from me, a white woman. He seemed belligerent, not angry, but definitely tired of the abuse of power, tired of the foot on his neck. I saw all of this in a short few seconds. I held out my hand to him and I said the first thing that came out of my mouth, “Thanks be to God” and I smiled. He shook my hand and nodded his head, keeping eye contact with me for the full shake. His eyes softened. I knew that the Spirit had given me the right words to say. She always does that, if I let her.
Being a healer doesn’t mean that a person can make a physical or mental sickness be gone. Poverty and all the things that go with it are still there in the morning. Yet, in the words of Becca Stevens, “Answering the call to become a healer means you are willing to experience empathetic pain and feel others’ brokenness.”
I saw the phoenix within that man. He was broken. He was wounded and tired. Yet he stood up by calling on the grace of God. He knew he was worthy because God told him so and that gave him the power to stand tall. Just because we are broken does not mean that we cannot rise up.
I am reading Becca Steven’s newest book, Snake Oil. Her writing always has a powerful effect on me but this one is touching the core of my being. It helped me understand a lot of my feelings.
There are some days when I am so exhausted, my heart hurts. I want to curl up and cry. I am so tired that I don’t even have the energy to question why God led me into this place. Yet, I wake up in the morning and I head out into a new day, not always totally refreshed but enough so that I am able to move back into the midst of the people.
The thing is this – woundedness is not something held aside just for people living in the struggle of poverty. It is something that can happen to all of us. Woundedness often is a part of an unconscious condition, an unresolved trauma that we thought we shook off.
Many people think that money is the answer. If I get enough money, all my worries will go away. Money can sometimes glitz up the cracks of brokenness yet the pain seeps through those crevices no matter how well concealed. Arrogance, belligerence, hatefulness, bullying, violence, fear, intimidation, even greed – all these acts can be the effects of woundedness. In this world of provocative language and actions, it is difficult to look for the provocateur’s pain.
Yet if we were able, if it became imperative for each of us to see, hear, taste, feel the pain behind the dare, behind the power, behind the false bravado, would we view the arrogant or belligerent person differently? Rather than reacting in anger, would it be easier for us to speak peace in the face of challenge? Would we be able to hear the Spirit as she gave us the words to heal the woundedness? Would that person be able to hear or feel the peace?
I often wonder how long I can continue to stretch the limits of my physical self. Yet, there is no time nor even the desire to ask whether I should continue. That is never the question. The real questions are how could I not continue? How could I live a life outside of that brokenness?
My own self has healed or at least, is in the process of healing. I rise up, just like that phoenix, just like that man, because I know that this is what God has told me to do. This thing I do is the way I offer myself, my story, my own wounded heart. It is this offering that people recognize and respond. What difference does it make in the long run? I don’t know. I only know that I recognize the recognition when I see it.
I will never stop asking people, “How are you?” I hope they never stop answering, “I am blest.” It tells me so much about the person.