My counselor made me pretty uncomfortable last week. It’s kind of his job, right? That’s what I’m paying him for? Well, he earned his pay last week.
Towards the end of our time, he shared with me an image that he so desperately wants me to grasp. He asked me to picture myself in an embrace. The arms around me are strong, and they are holding me tightly, but they’re not hurting me. Still, I can’t get out of the embrace (which he knows already makes me uncomfortable). So I’m being held by these strong arms, and eventually, I relax. I exhale. I rest. And this person embracing me whispers something in my ear. It might not even be in a language I understand. But something is said to me and only me.
The picture he paints is one of intimacy, closeness, safety, comfort, tenderness. Those things make me squeamish. He’s using lots of touchy-feely language. I don’t like it. As I am continuing to learn, I operate out of a belief system that says that feelings make you weak. I’m supposed to be strong, always. So this whole image he’s wanting me to imagine? It makes me pretty uncomfortable. While I was debriefing with my husband about it all at lunch last week, he said to me, “I had no idea I was married to such an emotional hard-ass.”
This morning, I was journaling about how, if I could, I would draw or paint this image he’s shared with me. I’m not artistically inclined in that way, so I was satisfied to write about it. Then it struck me that having this image in mind as I read scripture would be something worth trying. It would probably eliminate that legalistic way I tend to read scripture.
So before I dove into Romans 7-8, I tried it. Trying to ignore my own voice telling myself how hokey and cheesy this might be, I sat quietly with my eyes closed. I tried to picture myself in this embrace. It didn’t take long for me to break down and start weeping. I wanted to stop this exercise, but knew not to ignore the reaction I was having. I pressed into it. Every time I felt my mind try to fight, I brought myself back into the embrace.
And soon, I heard the message. No, it wasn’t audible. Yes, it was crystal clear.
Full disclosure: I hate stuff like this. I hate reading or hearing other people talk about experiences like this- times that they “heard from God.” And yet…
All I “heard” were two phrases.
I don’t know what you’ll make of that. I know I’m pretty skeptical when people talk like that. I know I doubt and scoff. And yet…
Those phrases probably don’t make any sense to you. They make perfect sense to me. They elicited an actual, audible sigh from me, just like my counselor hoped for. I cannot explain to you the depth of peace that I felt. I cannot describe the acceptance, the care, or the tenderness that I felt in that moment. I can tell you this- I think it’s something I’ve been missing for quite some time (forever?) and it’s something that I believe has been there all along.