This week’s guest post is from Liz von Ehrenkrook: a kind and generous online friend. Recently, God called Liz and her youth pastor husband to pack up and go—Abraham-like—on a new journey. You can follow along here.
Sometimes I think we’re scared to bleed.
When I was a kid, I played hard; and hard at play meant bruised or scratched limbs, with the occasional should-we-go-to-the-doctor injuries. My parents weren’t the kind to opt for medical bills if they could handle my crying and heal my body at home with peroxide, over-the-counter ointments and band-aids.
In fact, I only remember going to the doctor one time.
I was four years old. Mom was in the kitchen cooking, I want to say macaroni and cheese because I always wanted to eat macaroni and cheese. I remember my brother and I watching He-man, and my decision to sit closer to the TV.
I hear my mom’s voice – but it’s not good for you to sit so close!
I wager, how could I get closer without it being bad for me, without getting into trouble?
My dad’s easy chair was angled toward our coffee table. I pulled the lever and reclined back so the footrest extended. I wiggled my tiny body onto the edge of the footrest, propping my head up onto the coffee table. There, a tad uncomfortable, but closer nonetheless.
I don’t remember how I fell.
My head was aching. Mom was running into the living room scooping me into her arms and flying down the hall to the bathroom. I remember sitting on the edge of the sink while she parted my hair, looking for the source of all the blood. She said I wasn’t crying but I was scared at her reaction, at the worried look permanently wrinkling her face. I turned my head ever so slightly and could see my reflection in the mirror.
There was so much blood. I let loose a howl, a high-pitched screech that sounded like a siren.
Then we were in the car, speeding to the hospital. I was in my mom’s lap, hugging her chest. My blood soaked her shirt.
Everything at the hospital is a blur. I remember crying. I remember bucking, flailing my arms and legs when the doctor cleaned my wound and then began stitching my head. Two nurses lay across my body but the adrenaline released a she-Hulk and I wasn’t going down easy.
I remember my mom’s face then. She was calm; there was no more worry.
“Elizabeth. You need to let the doctor do his job. You’re going to be okay. Can you be still for me?”
My body stopped convulsing immediately. I stared into my mother’s eyes and held her gaze. I remember my nose running and really wanting her to wipe it for me.
My skull has a weird shape now, a flat area. I used to enjoy freaking people out by letting them run their hand across my head. This is my scar.
I did suffer some trauma from the event. Because I had been exposed to so much of my own blood, my reaction to even the tiniest scratch with the smallest droplet of blood would send me into hysterics. I’d run fast and far, thinking I could get away from it.
My parents had to work with me through all my future injuries to settle me down, to remind me, “You’re bleeding. You’re not dying.”
I have grown into a woman of resilience. I adorn my body with beautiful scars to express who God has created me to be. Under the needle in tattoo shops I bleed, and it’s a reminder to me that I’m growing, I’m changing – but I’m not dying.
I imagine a lot of people would die for God because, heaven. But to live for God here, right now, means we have to live out our faith on earth, in this plane of reality, where we face trials of all kinds. In order to live, we have to be willing to bleed, and it’s difficult to make that kind of commitment to pain.
We don’t like the thought of blood; our life flowing from our veins, worrying how much we have to give. Then we sing songs telling the spirit to lead us where our trust is without borders; we worship God asking him to take us deeper than our feet could ever wander. But when we bleed, we retreat. We run the other way, as far out as we can get, thinking the thing God is asking of us will be so far in the distance it’ll never catch up to us. We wrap ourselves in the safety of fresh gauze and padded comforts.
Bleeding usually doesn’t come without pain. And through pain there will be tears. We will lament. We will ask ourselves, and God, “Why?” We will look to others and say, “This is hard and it hurts and I’m scared.”
I believe that with our bleeding, we’re actually doing some really great living.
I’m not saying everyone needs to get a tattoo, to purposefully bleed in order to prove something. My body art is a personal representation of my growing faith.
What I am saying is don’t run from the pain of living out your faith, be willing to deal with the blood.
You’re just bleeding. You’re not dying.
Liz von Ehrenkrook – of So I Married a Youth Pastor – lives in Oregon with her husband, Mat, and their snobby cat, Pixel. In 12 days, Liz and Mat will be jobless and adventuring across the country on a summer road trip in search of what God wants next for them. Follow their journey here and keep them in your prayers!