One of my favorite gospel stories is the account of the bleeding woman. You remember this story: Jesus is jostled by the ubiquitous crowd attracted by his charisma and healing. But this time he pauses. Turning to his disciples, he said, Someone touched me. I imagine them rolling their eyes amid the human tumult. But Jesus knew that healing had flowed from him and he looked around. Finally, a woman stepped forward to admit that she had touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. It was just me, I imagine her saying. And just the torn dusty tangled fringe of your cloak. But Jesus’ healing had already coursed through her, and her bleeding – and isolation – stopped. Her faith meant everything.
It’s just me. I find myself saying that over and over again when I think about sending a note to someone, but don’t. Or decline a party invitation. Or arrive late. Or suffer an interruption and clam up for the rest of the conversation. It’s just me, and I don’t matter. No one will ever notice if I fail to claim my seat, my voice or my ability to lift someone’s spirits.
Even though by every outward measure I get that I “matter,” I struggle sometimes to believe it. And I embrace the story I’ve made up, happily, even, for it allows me to be lazy, inattentive, and free of the risks and vulnerabilities of messy personal relationships. You can’t hurt me by your inattention and you can’t let my heart slip from your hands, because I’m keeping myself safe from all that. And it’s just me, so you won’t even notice I’m not really there.
Lately, I’ve started paying attention to my Just Me tendencies. I’ve started noticing when they pop up and how my self-guarding clench affects not only me but others as well. I’ve also started noticing what happens when I fling my arms wide and behave as though I matter. I’ve even studied my fears – and the good things that happen when I free myself from them. And when the thorns pinch, I marvel at my resilience. No, not just resilience, but my ability to evaluate the incident objectively without coating it in a sticky, scary story making myself or others wrong.
I’m not where I want to be, but I’m getting there. I matter. I matter. I matter.
So, when I stretch my hand to touch the torn dusty tangled fringe of another person, I challenge myself to believe that I matter. The fact that the other person brings healing to me when I do is just an article of faith.
I wrote this piece for Five Minute Friday, a faith-based community blogging site at: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/02/21/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-just/ . Check out the other short essays on the topic of “Just”.