Thursday, November 11, 2004

Like a Lamb

I heard him. Tonight I heard him.

The last time I felt this kind of excruciating pain, the kind that stops your breath, I didn't treat it cautiously. In the moments that really sank deep and twisted, I tried to wriggle from under the blade. I found anger. And I didn't let go of it. I remember hiding in the closet in my dorm room to cry so that my suitemates wouldn't hear me. I wasn't really allowed to be upset anymore after the "appropriate" mourning period was over, and that made me angrier. There would be many more moments--moments of decision. I would have to choose at each one whether I was going to grow more angry or more vulnerable.

Tonight, I felt the pain again. New antagonist, same old plot. And it really hurt. I thought I was doing allright. I've been practicing hours each day. I made it to the finals of the competition I've been preparing for. I'm trying new recipes and deepening relationships with my extended family. Why aren't they enough? Why do they just feel like pretense? Why has walking through a day of my life become a movie screenplay?

"What do I do with this? God, do you know what it's like down here?! What do you know of gut-wrenching rejection?!" I screamed at him.

And then I heard him. It was immediate and intimate.

I was despised and rejected by men. Nothing in my appearance caused men to desire me.

It wasn't trite this time. It wasn't just a passage I have had memorized since Mr. Baker's eighth grade Bible class. It took me straight to the Storybook.

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of
the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

He does not lecture me and say that I have no right to feel rejected and vulnerable compared to what he has been through. Instead, he whispers to me that I can still trust him with my heart because he knows the course of this pain. And that he will be there in the moments of choice. And that there is hope still that I will continue to choose to be like a lamb, free of regret and bitterness, but dead all the same.

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