Sitting on the dock, reel in one hand, coffee in the other, Bible and phone propped precariously beside me on the dock… I have to admit, I must’ve been a sight to behold.
The ultimate multitasker. I had all my favorite things, I wouldn’t have to move until the coffee was cold or gone. I drew in the line, placed a steady finger on the thin string, clicked the reel into release mode and extended the rod fully in one swooping motion, letting the “plop” into water sound be the applause of another “excellent” cast.
And there it was. The loop. I might refer to it now as the loop of doom. I glanced at my bobber, bobbing gracefully along the tiny water ripples made by the gentle breeze, doing its job magnificently. I hadn’t had a bite for awhile, so I thought that this would be the best time, as I sit here relaxing, to release the line a bit further and resolve this loop that could ultimately cause a fishing catastrophe. Note to novice fisher-folk, like myself: you can’t really gage how far down a loop in your line is, until you start unreeling. You keep thinking, any moment now, the next unreel will be the one that pulls it straight, once again restoring the integrity of the pole. So you let out more and more line…and a little more line… and Finally! Success. So satisfying. Now to just slowly re-spin… and that is when I see it. The yards (felt like MILES) of unwoven fishing line had somehow entangled itself on itself, and on itself again, and neither tender nor aggressive tugs resolved the situation. Bobber check: still above water. Attention back to the line: a tangle that can only be described as: you’ve got to be kidding me. What a mess. How could one little ripple in this thin line turn into such chaos now everywhere. And its paralyzing! If that bobber went down, my rod had simply turned into a leash, and I could envision myself trying to pull it in, hand over hand, most likely to no avail. The tangles had to be faced.
I couldn’t help but let my mind wander as I pulled at the rats-nest of tangles. One little loop did so much damage. It reminded me of some struggles I had been having. There were some “loops” in my life that I had left unattended. Issues that I knew where there, but would rather not deal with for fear of this exact situation. They weren’t flesh wounds. They went deep. Somewhere along the way I thought if I could identify them, that would mean I would heal from them. Like knowing there was fish in the lake was as good as catching one. But you don’t catch fish by knowing they are there and you don’t get restoration from the past by only identifying the problem. Often times, when you start peeling back the layers, when you start getting into the wound, you realize allowing it to sit has left its own effects: denial, bad coping mechanisms, attraction to toxic relationships and behaviors, guilt and shame, lies about your identity … you’ve essentially unearthed a whole mess of effects based off the cause.
There’s this moment in the Bible where a paralyzed man was brought to Jesus to be healed. What I found interesting is that when Jesus healed the man, he didn’t say, “I heal your body,” He told him He forgave his sins. (Matthew 9:2) At first listen, this seemed odd to me, but as I let this story linger in my mind, it resonated with how I let my past deform parts of me. How I’ve grown cynical, untrusting, insecure. It wasn’t physical attributes, but they were twisted, hardened and hurt places because of sin. Because of places I had sinned and hurt myself or had been hurt by others.
Like allowing a broken bone to heal without being properly set. My husband has an old football injury that has wreaked havoc on his back and posture- years of muscles compensating for the trauma, not healing and regaining strength in its proper position. What does it take to make it right? Often, a major unravelling. And just like there on the dock how I didn’t want to spend the time and energy straightening it all out, I knew the end result, a functioning line, was well worth it. Although naming the pain is part of the process, it’s only a small portion of the battle. The rest is allowing God to heal the places of lost trust, of personal wounds, insecurities, shame, and a plethora of other internal collateral damage, all of which I try to keep in these tightly wound spools, hidden from the world, or in attempt of self preservation- until I have the strength (or more often, the surrender) to take Jesus up on his offer to unravel the mess.
There are still days I feel like I will never unpack all of the baggage, I will never leave behind all the insecurities, that there will be further tangles and snares I hadn’t seen coming, but today as I loose the last of the snarls in my line, I smile because my hope is firm and my strength is renewed as I hear Jesus calling: “Take heart, daughter, your sins are forgiven.”