Once again it has been a long time since I have written.  My days have been filled with doctor’s appointments, biopsies, more doctor’s appointments, antibiotics, surgery, more doctor’s appointments, more antibiotics, continued laryngitis, and maybe — just maybe an end that is finally in sight.  The “suspicious” nodules on my thyroid have been removed — along with the thyroid, and now I am adjusting to finding the right balance of thyroid replacement meds and figuring out what is going on with the persistent laryngitis.  A few weeks ago I surrendered to the realities of not feeling great, of needing to rely on the help and support of others, and of just how strange it is to be out of control of even my own body.  One recent Saturday night I was determined to go to church for our Resound worship service.  If you live in the Denver area I invite you to visit on the third Saturday of every month — a creative arts worship experience that will be worth the time and effort to attend.  This Saturday: “Resound: Solstice” –   (June 26) @ 5:30pm. Well, a few weeks ago I was almost there — and then had one of these coughing spasms that this new weird throat of mine causes.  I refuse to even consider the idea that I am at a stage in life when I need Depends — but I needed them during and after the coughing spell. 

Maybe God was really asking me to let go of my pride and worship with all the evidence visible that I can’t control myself — because that’s true.  Everything — every ailment, down-hill-from-here reality, sign of aging, or humiliating physical condition — is just reminding me that He is He and I am only i. 

It reminded me of another time when I was comletely out of control.  There was blood everywhere.  I really had no idea that it would be like this, so painful and so messy.  Pain and mess are two things I try to avoid at all costs, and there I was in excruciating agony and a humiliating mess.  It was August 29, 1986.  I was in Lutheran Hospital about to give birth to my firstborn, Kristin Marie Hersh.  I was in labor for over twenty-four hours.  Family and medical personnel tried to soothe me and stared at me as I cried, screamed, grunted, and explained that this would be the only baby I would ever have!  Doctors probed and pushed, and we all willed for this baby to just come out.  Finally, in the early morning hours of August 30, Kristin arrived.  She was coated with blood and mucus.  Her head was covered with dark hair that was matted to her scalp.  Part of the umbilical cord was dangling from her stomach.  Her eyes were glued shut with amniotic fluid.

She was the most beautiful thing I had every seen.

When the doctors finally placed her on my chest, my heart was beating so fiercely I was afraid it just might bounce her off of me.  I didn’t know that it was possible to love someone so much, someone who at that moment was absolutely good for nothing.  She was just good.

The dictionary defines strange as “surprising and alien.”  Sickness, children, relationships that shatter out dreams, break out hearts, and compel us to surrender control surely make us feel alien at times in a culture that advises us to look good, play it safe, and look out for ourselves. 

I never felt more strange than I did during this last month when the endocronologist called to give me the results of the biopsy of the thyroid.  I had some decisions to make and he suggested that I consult my husband.  The Enemy whispered, taunted, shouted, and sneered, “You are alone — diagnosed with a polynoidal goiter (that sounds attractive), left to yourself to figure out a plan of action, and decide if it’s time to keep a box of Depends (you know they now have “designer prints”) hidden in your bottom dresser drawer.  You don’t have a husband.”

Of course the Enemy was lying.  I’ve been overwhelmed by friends and family who have supported me, brought me food, visited me, prayed for me, and showed me that I am loved — even at my strangest.    My experience, though, made me think of another strange woman — an alien woman who met Jesus at the well at noon (when all of the other women in town would be in the shade of their homes – John 4).  She couldn’t risk their suspicious glances or harsh judgments.  I thought of Jesus’ request that this woman go and get her husband — knowing full well that she didn’t have one.  She had, in fact had four, and was living with a fifth man.  I wondered why did Jesus make this request — to highlight her strangeness?  I know the question was exposing something?  I needed to believe that the question was kind, but I couldn’t find an answer by myself.  And so I asked my pastor.  His words were balm to my hurting heart, comfort to my confused mind, and hope for a strange woman.

My pastor, Peter Hiett, wrote:  “Jesus reveals himself in our wounds.  We hide our sorrows and our wounds.  I think He points them out — for it’s in that place that the living water begins to flow.  It’s the “sorrow” that gets turned into “joy”; the mourning into laughter; [the “strangeness” into hope — my addition].  It’s in that wound in that woman at the well that Christ reveals that he is her true man, the seventh man.  It’s in that thirst that the water begins to flow.”

Wow.  Feeling strange becomes a gift.  Every difficulty, disappointment, or disaster is an opportunity to love him more, trust him more, and worship him more.  When our goal changes from wanting to be “normal” to wanting a more intimate relationship with Jesus, we not only have hope, but we are ready to delight in being a little strange. 

That does not mean that we have to buy Depends.

“Do you see this [strange] woman?  I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair.  You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet.  You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume.  Impressive isn’t it?”  Luke 7:44-47

Watch for 2 more excerpts to follow about 2 of my favorite strange women — all stories that will be told more fully in Begin Again, Believe Again — my new book to be released in October!