Know Your Rights
Well, friends -- I'm going to do it. I've started writing a book. Progress is slower than I'd hoped, but God's timing has always seemed to require quite a bit more patience than my own. To hold myself accountable to continuing the process, I've decided to share a draft of one of the chapters below. I hope it speaks to you.
I bawled my eyes out in the front row during worship the morning after the breakup. I hadn’t bothered to put on makeup before dragging myself to church, so at least there was no mascara malfunction.
Nearly every Sunday at my church, there's a prayer moment during worship where pastors and leaders stand at the front, ready to pray for you if you step forward. Still sobbing, I walked up to a leader named Tramaine and she gave me a big hug. “Oh, Bethany,” she whispered kindly, "what's going on?" I didn’t have a lot of words, but I think I said “dated an addict” and “breakup" and "yesterday” and that was enough. She prayed life over me and I felt a tiny sliver of peace. A sign of God's presence. It had been hard to breathe between sobs, but now I took a deep breath. I thanked Tramaine and hugged her again and walked back to my place in the front row.
The message that followed was about brokenness. Jake started preaching by talking about broken hearts and I lost it all over again, an absolute mess of silent tears. I took more notes than usual, but after church I dashed right out the door, not wanting to draw attention to my puffy red eyes among the huge crowd of smiling faces.
As I walked home, I started ruminating over it all, the cause of those tears. I was so angry. My anger covered up that sliver of peace. I started talking to God and yelled out loud on the empty street, “I have a right to be hurt!”
And there it was. The little voice inside… that familiar, sensible voice of the Holy Spirit, soft and gentle but oh so clear:
“Is that the right you want to fight for?”
Yes, I had every right to be hurt. What that person did was shocking and selfish and cruel and inexcusable. My hurt was and still remains completely understandable.
Alright. That’s established. But what good is that doing me right now?
Do you ever look for validation of your hurt? Let me tell you before we move forward:
Your hurt probably makes complete sense.
Your hurt is probably justified.
You have a right to be hurt.
But can I ask you a question, that same question the Holy Spirit asked me that day?
Is that really the right you want to fight for?
Of all the rights you have inherited from God your Father:
The right to eternal life.
The right to a seat at the table in Heaven.
The right to a seat at the table in the church here on earth.
The right to joy.
The right to peace.
The right to love unfailing.
The right to your calling.
The right to a hope and a future.
The right to redemption.
The right to freedom.
The right to healing.
All of these rights I’ve been given and here I am, holding onto my right to be hurt. But what about my right to be healed?
That’s the right I choose to chase down and not give up. That’s the right that I will write down on a piece of paper, stamp with Heaven’s seal, clench tightly in my fist, and wave in the devil’s face.
I have the right to be healed, and I know exactly where to go to get my healing. Better yet, I know the Healer.
My hurt has no more value to add to my life. My hurt is like a ball and chain cuffed to my ankle, holding me in the past. And it does not matter if your past hurt is twelve hours old like mine or if it is twelve years old, we are not meant to hold onto it.
Instead, Jesus offers an exchange. He wants to trade your hurt for his healing. A ball and chain for freedom to get up and walk. It’s yours to claim when you finally decide that it is time to trade up.
Did I mention that this all happened today? As I write, it is Sunday at 10pm. It’s been a little over 24 hours since the whole breakup-via-text thing. Last night I was a mess, lying in a literal puddle of tears and sweat on the hardwood floor of my un-air-conditioned bedroom, binge eating pizza and throwing a pity party. Tonight I am sleeping on the couch in the air-conditioned living room. I threw away the leftover pity pizza and drank a green smoothie today. It was my way of marking the moment that I decided to trade up: hurt for health.
Bring on my healing. That is my inheritance. I have a right to be healed.