After some time, He helps me to sit up. I still feel weak, but better than I had. With compassion, He looks at me. Finally, He speaks, “Let me anoint you. This process is difficult and the flies must not take hold of those places that are hurting right now.” In His hand I see anointing oil.
I find I cannot speak, I am still too worn, but I nod, welcoming His tender ministrations to me. Purposefully, He anoints my eyes, my ears and my heart. The oil is soothing, it seems to strengthen me, to clear my thoughts. I look about with a renewed vision and notice that the thorns seem to have shrunk back somewhat. The difference seems only minutely noticeable, but I am sure the canes have pulled back. Moreover, the vines seem to be thinner now. I wonder if I am imagining things, but no, I am certain of it. I catch a glance of the walls beyond the thorns and it seems the outer walls have changed too. Although less certain of it than I am of the changes in the thorns, I believe that the walls are no longer stone, but of iron bars now.
I try to see this more clearly, but am distracted as He begins to speak to me.
“We are not finished here yet.” He pauses while I refocus my attention to Him. “Come closer to Me.” He reaches His hand out to me. “I must correct you now too.” I am filled with sorrow at the mention of further correction. But still, I take His hand, moving carefully to Him. He begins.
I suddenly see my pride, the depth of my pride. I have chosen to believe that I do not need anyone, that I can do it all alone. Deep within, I see myself as the exception to the rules that everyone needs connection.
“Oh, Papa, forgive me! Forgive me! I repent of this pride! Forgive me!” I cry out, writhing under the pain of these revelations. I want Him to be easier on me, I came willingly! But He does not relent.
Pride! Disobedience! Idolatry! I know I must be faithless too. Who am I? Who am I? I do not know who I am any more. My sense of self has always been in all that I have done and now I find that it is all worthless! Who am I?
“I will show you.” He breaks in to my agitated thoughts.
I am afraid! Afraid of what I will see. I fear it will be something awful. I could have control over what I do, control what I was, but now I am out of control and I am afraid.
“Look.” He directs. I desperately want to disobey, but I cannot. I fear His rebuke too much. The memory of His recent rebuke is too fresh to ignore.
In His hand is a large basin, filled with water. The setting sun reflects in the water. Reluctantly, I look into the water and see a face I do not recognize. Who is this? Is this me? I cannot make out the features of the face.
“Let me show you what others see when they look at you.” He tells me, but still I cannot see the reflection clearly.
The harder I try to see, the louder a voice in the background becomes. I close my eyes briefly trying to listen to the sound. It becomes clearer as I listen. It speaks to me ‘You are not wanted, no one will want you.’ It says. I am overwhelmed by the sense of being unwanted, of not fitting in, or being a part.
I reel with the strength of this understanding, sinking down with the weight of it.
“Wait!” His voice is commanding. “Not yet, you are not yet ready. You must rest first.”
The strength of His direction breaks the grip that the voice has on me and I am grateful. He wraps His arm about me, drawing me into Him, to lean on Him. I rest my head upon His chest and I sleep.