I read about Jesus and how he healed the leper. I learned about leprosy while I was reading – how it is debilitating not only physically, but also emotionally and even spiritually. It can make you an outcast within your community, and after it grows in severity, even your own family keeps their distance. I checked out some pictures online of people with leprosy and it appears awful. The lepers in biblical times had to yell “Unclean” as they walked in areas where they could have contact with others. I can guess how you would feel if you had the disease: unwanted, unloved, unattractive, perhaps even ashamed. Sometimes when the limb is completely covered, the leper loses all feeling, leaving only numbness.
It’s not unlike Divorce in many ways. I have felt all those things: unwanted, unloved, unattractive, and even ashamed. In fact, I know I’ve shared with a few friends that I have felt at times like the main character, Hester Pryne, in The Scarlet Letter, only instead of an “A” I have a big “D” emblazoned on my chest. The leper cannot escape from his disease; it seems to characterize him, like divorce seems to. It becomes who you are from filling out paperwork in the doctor’s office (you have to check the divorced box) to attending a holiday picnic with all your married friends, feeling out of place.
The other day I was sitting down trying to write a poem about how the leper must have felt when Jesus healed him. I was intending to try to convey how the leper may have felt, but what it turned into as I wrote was how I felt as I have been healed. The poem is still a work in process (as I have a couple of versions I’m working with) but I thought I’d share it anyway.
Cast aside and rejected
The pain stained my heart
My sense of worth mislaid
Plagued with guilt and loneliness
I began to feel nothing at all
In the midst of my anguish
There was a pause
As you met my eyes
Touching my hand
I began to feel again
Numbness giving way to value
Filled with compassion
Your love eased the pain of judgment
When you offered me your heart
There are moments when
The pain returns
Another judgment is leveled
And it’s easy to feel the guilt and shame returning
But I force myself to stop
And close my eyes
Giving pause to accept your offering
To be filled with a sense of you again
It’s been about a year and a half now since I’ve been divorced. I still struggle with some of those unwanted feelings, some days more than others. Overall though, I am doing ok because I’ve been able to feel the healing hand of God through various ways. The leper was changed and went away rejoicing. I can’t say I’m rejoicing at the circumstances of my life, but I can honestly say I’m rejoicing at how He’s using it to change me. I’m slowing losing the sores and the scabs and gaining depth, confidence and security.