“Here he comes,” she thought and took a deep, shaky breath.
After years of dealing with the pain and agony of a child who couldn’t be reasoned with, reacted violently, couldn’t hear any words of love, she was determined to either find an answer or die trying.
A broken mama heart pounded in her chest while strands of dark hair slipped out of a messy up do and a thin line of sweat beaded on skin around clenched lips.
Feeling desperate, she didn’t know if this would really work, but seriously, when you’ve tried everything else, what harm could it do to march up and demand and answer from someone who seemed to have answers for everyone else?
“Excuse me, sir?” Breathless words from a dry throat.
“He won’t hear me.”
Anxious thoughts tumbled in a cascade of fear and insecurity. How do you get the attention of someone important.
“HEY! You!!! I know who you are! Yes, you!”
Shrill, sharp words echoed off stone walls as his friends turned abruptly and looked at her with startled and condemning eyes. Her resolve wavered and then solidified again.
“Listen to ME!!! I need help! Can’t you see how much I need help? Well, it’s not for me, really. It is for my daughter. She’s in a really bad way and, and it’s just too much. Please. Please hear me. Help me!!!!”
He didn’t even turn toward her. It was like she was invisible. Unimportant. Irrelevant.
How everyone in town treated her when they didn’t want to acknowledge the damaged child behind her or ask how she’s doing when they knew they’d hear a long story of pain and anguish. No one has time to hear that story again. They kept their kids away from her. Didn’t invite them over for dinner or parties or, anything, really. They were alone.
In the crowded room people started to whisper behind their hands. Knowing smiles hid poorly behind mocking eyes fanned a fire in her spirit and, defiantly, she got louder.
“Don’t you see me here? I am right behind you and I. Need. Help! It’s not even for me!! It’s for my daughter. Help her!! Help….”
Her voice broke into a million pieces when the man’s tall, tan friend leaned in and whispered to the only one she believed could help her.
In a barely disguised stage whisper she overheard him say, to the nodding agreement of the rest of the group,
“Good grief, can we just make her go away? She’s so obnoxious! This crying is driving us crazy. Really? We’d be better able to do the good things we’ve come to do if we just make her leave. We have an important ministry here and she’s a distraction.”
“I didn’t come to help her. That’s not my vision. Not my mission.”
Came a quiet, devastating, reply from him. He didn’t give her the time of day. He wouldn’t talk to her face.
“No. No. No.” the word resonated over and over in her mind. “He is my last chance to have a daughter, a family, a future. He must listen to me.”
Throwing dignity to the wind, she fell down to the floor, sobs shaking thin, tired shoulders as she started to ugly cry all over the place.
“Please, sir. Help me.”
Brown eyes red and overflowing, all pride and demand lost in her heart, while a dangerous kind of faith began to grow. The kind that happens when there is nothing left to lose and everything to gain.
Then his eyes turned her way and it was as though the world stood still while she waited for the answer she was certain would come.
He had to answer her. She was at his feet, in his hands, at his mercy.
“I didn’t come here to help you. I came to help them.” His hand gestured toward the group of men who had just despised her for being persistent. “Why should I give what I have to you instead of them? I shouldn’t give to the dogs what was intended for the children, should I?”
Silence thundered across the room. Those men clustered to each side of him nodded sagely at the wisdom of his words. You could almost smell the elitism and the tang of her humiliation tasted like salt and sweat and shame.
Resignation and anger warred. It wasn’t fair.
“Does anyone care about us? I have no other options. Maybe everyone is right. Maybe we are garbage.”
An old, familiar, litany of self-hate and rejection filled the emptiness of her soul.
For a second she considered getting up and walking away. Having lived with the agony of a loved one in the throes of defiance, anger, rebellion, and hopelessness for so long, maybe that was God’s will for her life. Maybe that was the best she was ever going to get. In this life.
Shallow breath filled out a shabby dress as pulling herself up onto bony knees, letting go of all hope of making a difference, resigned to living this way forever, she began to move toward leaving.
Until she noticed his intense eyes on her face and stopped moving.
Instead of disregard and dismissal behind that offensive question she saw an unexpected kindness. In fact, in all the demanding and begging and sobbing, she realised she’d not seen his face at all.
Shockingly, it seemed he looked beyond the outfit that didn’t quite meet the standard of the group he was with, the fact that she was debasing herself, and into her very heart and soul.
“He sees me. All of me. Every last ugly and crazy part of me. He’s not blaming me for her. He’s not angry. He’s not judging.”
The thoughts tripped on each other over and over again. He waited for her answer and that gentle focused gaze brought a quiet sense of peace and confidence that indeed this was the right person.
“Sir, even dogs get crumbs that fall on the floor” came quiet, clear words from a broken woman with no other answer to give.
Then she bowed her head and waited for an answer she both feared and hoped to hear.
“Ma’am, your faith is great. Your desire is granted.”
His gentle voice washed over her and in a second of exquisite reality, the simple truth that a whole world of possibility opened up was only compounded by the joy that her daughter was whole and healthy.
The men behind him gasped and whispered among themselves. What had they just seen? Could they have missed something? Surely this woman wasn’t worthy of a miracle, was she?
“She wasn’t one of us,“ whispered the one who was most scandalised by her display of emotion. “How could he do this for her? For HER.”
While they talked to each other and tried to make sense of this extravagant, unprecedented grace, a little dark haired mama ran down a hill toward a young woman with tattered clothes, matted hair, and a gentle smile that radiated love through out a crowd that had gathered to witness the transformation.
“What happened?” they cried. “How can this be?”
Carefully, with a peace and humility gleaned from throwing herself at the master’s feet, the Syro-Phoenician woman began to tell them of a Messiah who spoke kindly and offered compassion to someone who deserved nothing and gained everything.
This is a creative paraphrase of Matthew 15 for those of us who have found a Master who sees us unworthy and loves us anyway. When we ugly cry and demand. When we question and seek. When everyone judges us unworthy for His attention because we aren’t the cool kids. When those we love struggle and wrestle and disappoint and despise the grace we seek to offer.
This is our moment to throw ourselves on limitless compassion and a Messiah who sees our need and grants our desires.
Leaning on Him,
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