From: Amanda Bennett
Three years ago, I read this story of miraculous healing in John 5 as part of my Lenten practices. I felt Jesus ask me the question in verse 6: “Do you want to be healed?” At the time, I wasn’t used to thinking of myself as a sick person in need of a miracle. I thought my life, especially my spiritual life, was in perfectly good shape. But I knew I should pay attention to the question, so I made a list of what I thought might need to be healed in my life. When I finished, I looked over this web of insecurity, resentment, and vanity, and realized that I didn’t believe these wounds and sins could be healed, nor did I like the idea of living without them. My carefully hoarded brokenness felt inseparable from my identity. I also suspected that healing would be painful. After thinking for a minute, I answered Jesus’ question out loud: “Not really. If you’re asking me what I want, I don’t want to do this.” Then, because that was clearly the wrong answer, I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, and added, “But I say yes.”
Saying yes in that moment was the beginning of a lot of things for me, and it put me on the path that eventually led me to the revelation of long-buried abuse. The past few years have exposed the extent of my problems, and in the process my life has come to feel like a chaotic pit of trauma. After a long and painful year, I heard again this January, “Do you want to be healed?” I felt defensive at first, like Jesus was accusing me of not working hard enough to get these issues solved, like we were right back where we started after three years of work. I wanted to explain why I was in this situation. The man in this story says, “I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up,” and I found myself muttering, “I’ve just been doing what you told me what to do.” Then I paused and listened again, and the tone of the question changed. Jesus wasn’t raising his eyebrows in sarcastic judgment; he was holding out an offer to taste the wholeness I have spent so long aching toward. It took me three years to get there, but I finally felt what should have been obvious from the start: I really, really, really do want to be healed. Life is better than death and healing is better than disease, no matter the cost to my self-possession. May we accept without reservation what Christ is offering this Lent.
I never voluntarily end conversations, I’m perpetually having an existential crisis, and I have a long philosophical explanation for why I do anything I do. Fortunately, my mess of curly red hair tends to distract people from how intense I am.