You may be wondering…why “whole stories?” Well, let me tell you a short story to explain.
Way back during my first year of seminary, which was all of five years ago, I was in a class titled Shepherding Women in Pain II. Throughout two weekends we spent in that class we touched on a myriad of painful issues and how to walk with someone through those things – all without kleenex, but that is another story.
At one point we were tasked with reading Mark 5:21-43, with a particular focus on verses 24-34. This is the story where Jesus was on his way to heal a synagogue ruler’s, Jairus’, daughter, when a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up to Jesus in the crowd and touched his cloak to be healed. As we discussed the passage in small groups I was struck anew by this interchange between Jesus and the woman. In verse 30, right after the woman touched his cloak, Jesus having realized “that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?'” (Mk. 5:30). Though the disciples tried to tell Jesus that many people were pressing in around him in the crowd, the healed-woman knew. She knew that He was talking about her.
And in verse 33 we read “But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” (bolding mine)
The. Whole. Truth.
The whole truth. The whole thing, her whole story, the real deal. She shared it all. No holds barred. She broke wide open and poured it out. This woman, this healed-recently-ostracized-and-desperate-and-brave-woman, stepped up to tell Jesus her whole truth. She bared her soul right there on the roadside where there was a crowd, and the disciples, and Jairus awaiting his own Hope and Healing. She braved the looks, the shame, the mocking, the potential impatience of the disciples and the synagogue ruler, and told her whole truth.
Now, I, of course, do not know all that went into her whole truth. Did she share about spending all she had on doctors? Did she share about being shamed by family and friends? Did she share about her desperate tear-filled nights? Did she share about an act that she believed brought on her suffering? Did she share about her sin, her pain, her other brokenness, that, if we are honest we each have, but may be able to hide better than others? Did she share about her loneliness and joys and hopes?
But, regardless of the specifics, I can only imagine the disciples remembering this story later with each other, “Do you remember that time we were on our way with Jesus for Him to heal Jairus’ daughter? Jairus had been so earnest, so urgent, with his request and we were well on our way when that woman touched his cloak! I mean, she just touched His cloak and was healed! And then,” as if that was not enough, “Jesus stopped to listen to her whole story! We were on our way somewhere! But Jesus, you know His timeline always seemed a bit different, He stopped to listen. He leaned in and heard her whole story, I mean all the pain, and the hurt, and sadness. And at first, I wondered, you know, why? Why hear the whole thing? Why stop? He had already healed her. And then I saw her walk away…” pausing, the disciple shakes his head, “and, well, you know, you saw it, she was different. Yeah, she was healed physically, but I gotta think, she seemed different in other ways too. Like maybe Jesus stopping and in hearing her out, healed a different part of her, a part of her that was less visible, but just as broken…”
As I sat in class that day, there was part of me that found humor in that a male-person wrote this account down and included the “whole truth” snippet–as if maybe it took a bit long for this woman to share her entire story, and Peter still remembered that when recounting this for John Mark to pen. And then, there was another part of me that fell in love with Jesus all over again. That He stopped to minister to this woman in the other areas of brokenness she experienced too. That, yes, He healed her physically, but He also ministered to her relationally and spiritually.
This is what I want to be about. This is what I want this blog to be about.
I want to be about the business in this blog of sharing, from work and ministry on the margins, whole stories, sharing the raw, the broken, the joyous, the filled-hopes, and the just-now-daring-to-hope. I want this to be a space pointing to His Kingdom coming in stories of life, ministry, church and social justice. I pray this is a space filled with stories of the Gospel and Scripture and healing the whole self. I pray that somehow the stories of the fumblings and wrestlings of ministers walking alongside people seeking new-ness and safety at a shelter will be an encouragement to others.
So, with that, I invite you. Will you lean in, hear long, and sit with whole stories?
(All views expressed in this blog are solely those of myself, Bridget. I do not speak for my family, my workplace, my church, my denomination, my seminary or for God. Names and identifying features of people in the stories of this blog have been changed to protect their privacy and confidentiality.)