There was a time in my life when today was one of the hardest days of the year. I was one-hundred miles from home that felt more like a thousand in a remote area of Ohio, surrounded by double razor wire. Beyond the fence, fields stretched as far as you could see. It felt like an island in the middle of no man's land.
When the sun would go down on this day, even in the middle of no man's land, I could still hear the explosion of fireworks. And sometimes from my window, I could even see a sneak peak of explosive color in that dark sky.
I could also hear and see a lifetime of memories. Memories of my uncle's annual 4th of July picnic and the festive red, white, and blue desserts my mom would make. Or the time a firework shot off in the wrong direction and landed under grandma's chair. No injuries thankfully.
I could hear the reminder that life was still going on outside those gates.
Today, I no longer have to just sit as an observer. But to be honest, some experiences and ways of living are hard to unlearn.
There is a story in John chapter five about a paralyzed man who has been lying by a pool for 38 years. This paralyzed man laid by the pool day after day because the belief was that the pool contained healing powers. Jesus approaches him (by the way, he has no idea who Jesus is) and asks him, "Do you want to be made well?"
It seems like a ridiculous question, right? The man has been paralyzed for 38 years, and this stranger walks up and asks if he wants to be made well?
There is a larger point at work here, though. Don't miss it.
The man answers with an excuse. The hard truth? Sometimes we don't want to be made well. Dysfunction becomes the new normal, and we just learn to live with it. We settle with sitting as an observer of the life we could have. A life free from all that enslaves us.
I recently read about a documentary of a woman who had a three-hundred-pound tumor removed from her body. When asked by the filmmakers who documented her surgery why she waited so long to have it removed, she said she didn't get help because she figured it would go away on its own.
Sometimes I do this in my own life. I waited two years to see a doctor one time for pain on the bottom of my foot. A foot that I use daily for walking!
It is amazing to me the things we are willing to endure, suffer and accept as our lot in life.
In my present-day life, I work with a non-profit organization as an advocate and mentor for those in the correctional system, and I see this concept played out over and over. Women and men who have accepted poverty, crime, addiction, abuse, and dehumanization as their lot in life.
Without a disruption in that thought, prisons will remain a revolving door.
But don't be mistaken. I have met many people in the free world who are equally bound. Without a disruption in thought, the things that make us unwell will remain. Toxic relationships. Low self-worth. Inferiority. Fear. Addiction. Depression. Shame. Every sort of emotional and spiritual bondage you can name.
There is more to life. There is healing and wholeness.
If you are reading this and it applies to you, I pray that the lies you and I have bought into will be disrupted and shattered. I pray that we will believe for more.
As a side note, I have yet to see a night sky as beautiful as the ones I saw while surrounded by that double razor wire. It was like a canvas of crushed diamonds with a black velvet backdrop. But I only noticed it by looking away from everything that was around me and believing there was so much more to the world than what I currently saw.
References: Kyle Idelman, "The End of Me" David C Cook (Colorado Springs, CO: 2015)