Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Feel (emotions) (08/26/10)
- TITLE: The Humanity Connection
By Kate Oliver Webb
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Cecelia Jordan, self-appointed leader of the pack (there were no other contenders), had decided for them all that this year, as highlight of their 20th class reunion, they’d hit the pews of Highland Memorial Collegiate Church.
At some point in that 20 years, Cecelia “found Jesus” and was--as was her wont--one of Christ’s most vociferous evangelists. It didn’t matter whether her followers were convinced of her message; one was simply swept along in her wake.
Robin Tunney, however, had enough church to last her the rest of her life. Raised as a minister’s daughter (she liked to say she was born in the front pew, under the shadow of her dad’s high pulpit), she got by simple osmosis the basics of religion.
Robin also “got” the basics of public presentation. From her perspective, what was presented on Sunday wasn’t part of the reality of life at home. In her more philosophical moments, she likened herself to the cobbler’s children, whose shoes were in constant disrepair, if they had any at all.
She didn’t resent the lack of spiritual life in her parents’ home. She was comfortable; her mom and dad, when they noticed her, treated her with affection and a distant amusement. It surprised her sometimes that her mom was as busy with church activities as her dad was.
But Robin had a brain, and she’d figured things out early on. Like her friends’ parents, hers had jobs that brought in the money that helped her live comfortably, with all her needs--and most of her wants--met. What she hadn’t figured out was why all these people who came to church on Sunday, did so. What was in it for them?
Robin’s history might have indicated that it would be someone just like herself who would have found comfort from the storms of life, and fellowship within that hallowed structure.
As life does, it had given Robin plenty of buffeting and an occasional bloody pummeling from which she thought she might not recover. Pragmatist that she was, she always bounced back--sometimes not very quickly or quite as high as before--but always with permanent scars and bruises. Accidental contact with those emotional leftovers often brought fresh pain, which drained her of strength and her own sense of security.
But that was just something she dealt with. Didn’t everyone?
Even the worst of it: the emotional abuse from her husband which extended to her beloved daughter, and culminated in her sweet Samantha’s hospitalization for a time of rehabilitation; the disappointment of a lifelong friend who broke the friendship over a misunderstanding and in the process left Robin’s heart broken; the untimely death of Robin’s older brother Greg, killed by a drunk driver. She’d had her share; and yes, she must admit, these wounds drove her farther from the religion of her childhood. Not an innocuous practice, that old religion sometimes caused even more problems with its disappointing lack of understanding and empathy.
Seated in the sanctuary, squeezed in among her old friends, Robin listened with her usual half-an-ear as the current minister presented his case for Christ. She anticipated the usual: we must suffer with Him, for He suffered for us on the cross.
The minister didn’t know, but the text he had chosen caused both Robin’s ears to respond. Her surroundings faded as he spoke from Hebrews 4:15 and 16.
He expounded: “As our Lord in his humanity felt the same pain, frustration, disappointments, illnesses, rejection--all our human emotions--He is able not only to empathize with our human feelings, but to extend His healing and comfort to us as well.”
It had never before occurred to her that the human Jesus actually experienced the same emotions she had. Oh, that he had a headache now and then, or stubbed his toe, she understood. But his heart was broken? He was driven to tears! He worried and felt frustration? And because of His experiences, He was able to empathize with her?
Just at that moment, Robin at last heard the Word of God. Her heart called out to her High Priest, Jesus, and in great humility, asked Him to make Himself real to her.
Miraculously, and in His personal way, He did.
While her friends filed past her out of the church, she remained in her pew, tears flowing, and knew healing in her wounded, broken spirit.
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