Green walls and my picture of Jesus

The washing machine quit (we got a new one) and the peonies are blooming beautifully.

I’ve had a hard time in May and June.  So much up and down.  So many tears.

I felt sick for days (and still do) about the story that is all over social media these days of child sexual abuse at the hand of a missionary man in Haiti. I don’t even have words to address this heinous evil.  And besides, they’ve all been said by someone else.  I just pray and pray that the right steps are taken by all involved and that justice is served and that those precious victims’ lives are given loving spaces to heal.

“But I thought missionaries were supposed to be good people,” said Liesl.  That’s what we all thought, dear.

Last Sunday evening I poured the olive oil out of the vial Dan uses for anointing with oil and washed it.

(If you aren’t a Bible person, here are verses in James 5 that explain this practice.

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.)

We’ve used that little vial four times in the years that Dan has been pastor.  Once for my brother Kevin, who passed away with a brain tumor at age 27. Again for our friend Mary and later for her mother, Edith.

And this time it was for me. I’ve had days in the past month when I just didn’t think I could go on.  It isn’t just the depression, it’s terrible anxiety too.  I never really knew what people meant when they talked about anxiety.  But now I do.

I’d been meaning to ask for anointing for a long time already.  Then I’d start to feel better and kind of forget about it.

But it was Time.

We had a nice little service.  Lots of tears and kind encouragement.  Friends laid hands on me and prayed that I could be healed from this mental illness that stalks my life.  Afterwards, Dan’s face was wet and he very seldom cries.

(He told me later that he was thinking about us dating and how much he wanted to marry me and how he didn’t know what was in the future for us and that he would pour oil on my head someday and lead in prayer for my healing.)

I have only shreds of faith.  But I prayed that God would honor them.  And that others would have faith for me.  And that whatever the outcome, I’d be surrendered to God.

Well I didn’t wake up Monday morning with all things looking clear and bright.

In fact, Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week were some of my darkest yet.  At least that’s what I wrote in my journal.

I don’t know why God heals some miraculously and others through time and medication and therapy and natural supplements. I think He’d be glorified most by my supernaturally being healed at the hands of a humble handful of people in BayTree, Alberta.

But as much as I want to choke on the words, maybe I need to suffer a little while yet, as 1 Peter 5:10 so aptly puts it, before I am restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established.

I’ve been seeing a Christian therapist in Grande Prairie. Her name is Beth and she’s warm and kind. I talk about my feelings easily and people say they are praying and they care and that they’ve struggled with depression too. But I guess it’s good for me to talk to someone who can give me tools for overcoming my chaotic thinking.

Besides that, the beautiful green walls of the waiting room at the counselling office and the classical music playing are so calming that that in itself makes the visit seem worthwhile.

How do you picture Jesus? At the suggestion of my therapist, I have been trying to practice Listening Prayer, which simply means opening your heart and being quiet. It’s so hard because I want to talk and talk.

Anyway, viewing Jesus as a friend sitting right beside me helps. But I struggle over picturing Him. I can’t stand to have Him in skinny jeans and converse sneakers and short hair, a picture that some people might find comforting.

But the long white robes of the Bible story books don’t work either. Not in BayTree, Alberta in 2019.

I’ve come to peace with a picture that’s kind of in between the two I described. Loose fitting clothing in neutral colours, a rope belt over a tunic, and long hair. (Sorry, CLP.)

I remember a ladies’ talk at a fellowship meeting of missionaries in Belize and the leader was saying that she pictures herself coming to Jesus on a throne with her requests. She is bowing low, and He puts forth his hand and offers her acceptance into His throne room.

Another lady spoke up and said she pictured Jesus to look like Labe, her husband. He had a beard and kind eyes and I loved it that she felt that way about her husband.

I could say the same about my husband looking like Jesus.  Except Dan might be a shade too good looking. Because the Bible says that Jesus on earth didn’t have beauty that made people desire Him.

I think our view of Jesus needs to balanced between what both of those ladies saw when they pictured Him. Right now, when I lie on my bed in tears, I need the comforting friend picture.

It’s been lovely to talk to my friends again here. Do tell me how you picture Jesus if you are His follower.

(Here is a 9:50 pm walk on the longest day.)

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10 thoughts on “Green walls and my picture of Jesus

  1. I have found great comfort and strength picturing Jesus right beside me behind my shoulder watching my life from my point of view and listening in on every thing. Kind of like my body guard. He sees and knows and since he sees and knows and is right there it helps me to go forward into the things in front of me. It’s like I can look over my shoulder and say, “ alright then I’ll go”. And then get his nod of approval and agreement that He’s got it . I don’t “see” what he looks like necessarily though. But maybe 5’11” and dark and strong. Hehe! That’d be my husband ! Ha!

  2. My heart amd thoughts identify so much with you on this journey for mental health. I, too, labeled to many things deoression, when anxiety just pushes and shoves from all sides.
    I don’t comment or talk about it, much…but your words are so true.
    I like the way you describe your counselors office.
    As far as the way I see Jesus…I can’t picture Him modern, unless it is through thrle actions of others. The old Biblical pictures are off putting for me…except for His eyes and often His hands…so I think of those things. Not in a disembodied way, but the kindness and love that exudes through them. Especially for those that have no words and just cry out.
    Blessings to you!

  3. He is a tall, broad-shouldered man with eyes that call to the lowest of society.
    Neither like my husband, nor any person I know. I’m not sure what clothes He wears but he definitely isn’t a good Mennonite with his hair. 😉

    Speaking of “shreds of faith”, when I went through dark lows born of post partum struggle, I felt like I lost my connection to the God of my life. I didn’t want or yearn for any other, but I couldn’t see, or feel, or hear, or connect with the one of my previous life.
    I prayed many prayers that sounded sort of like You know the desire of my heart when my head is clear. I can’t remember it right now but Im choosing to stay here with You until I can.
    “You know my heart” rang from my hearore than any other cohesive thought.

  4. Lucy I was at that same meeting and that really stood out to me and since that time I like to picture Jesus on a throne but bent over looking and listening and holding out his hand to all those who are pouring out their hearts to Him. And what clothes he he wearing?? I agree not skinny jeans but maybe a nice robe. Thanks for sharing your heart. It helps us to know how to pray.

  5. When I was little there was a very tall and very kind old man in church whom even timid me was never shy around, and he somehow got mixed up in my head with God. Actually that image still appears sometimes!

    I know depression and anxiety well; they are beyond horrible. Somehow medication is working for me now, but I so wish nobody ever had to feel that way. I know how it seems unbearable except you don’t die, and it’s so frustrating and exhausting and too much to take…

    I remember one of many trips to the hospital where I was going to have to wait for over an hour, and even though it was the middle of the day the most understanding nurse got me a blanket and pillow and invited me to lay on the cot instead of sit in the chair, and he turned out the lights when he left, and it was a small thing and I still felt awful yet it was such a relief–it felt good to be understood!

    I don’t think I’ve heard of someone having depression that *never* lets up. It comes to an end. In the meantime I wish good good sleeps for anyone who’s depressed!

    1. I’m sorry that you know depression and anxiety well, but this was such a beautiful little glimpse into your life. I’m glad meds are helping! And I love your picture of God. ❤️

  6. Luci,I admire your honesty and openness…. I think my picture of Jesus is a lot like you described, His eyes so full of love! Also when going through the darkest time of my life, almost feeling the touch of His hand on my shoulder! What a comfort it was.

  7. Luci, your picture of Jesus is perfect. I don’t seem to get so far as picturing His face, but His hands! How much I need and long to feel their comforting, healing strength. This post has me crying… May those hands touch you with healing. I meant to email a request for your bipolar story and haven’t gotten it done. Hopefully it’s not too late? 🙂 You can send it to thebaerden@emypeople.net. And I loved the reflections on your parents’ pioneer days in BC. It helped me understand a bit more how my mother in law (Carolyn) got her pluck!
    Hugs!

  8. I picture Jesus as kind and understanding; sad when I am behaving badly, but also knowing why and ready to forgive. I picture him a little like my dad, a little like my husband, a little like the ministers in our church when they are showing wisdom and restraint and being Spirit-led during tense times and when dealing with difficult people. I picture Jesus looking middle-eastern, and while maybe not handsome (for the same reason you mentioned), definitely beautiful, as loving eyes and kind face and kind deeds make any person beautiful, even if their features aren’t classically handsome. Bless you in your struggle. God bless your suffering and your brave going on for your family’s sake and even for God’s sake. Keep throwing yourself on Him and asking Him your questions. And may your faith and trust grow! And good for you for taking meds and seeking counseling. There should be no shame in that. The shame is when we know we need help and refuse it, or refuse to admit we need help. Sarah from PA

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