Saturday 11 June 2022

We lose more than virtue without feedback

Encouragement and peace

When the woman with the issue of blood as was related in 3 gospels of the Bible determined to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she believed she would be made whole. Whole, as in healed and fully restored to good health, but Jesus also gave her more than she was looking for, he said, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” [Bible Gateway: Luke 8:43-48(NKJV)]

Those were very comforting words; first of great encouragement and then of full absolution that she did not have to worry that she had surreptitiously acquired her healing without asking or getting permission from the healer. There can be a lesson here about our interaction with God, but this is not what the blog is about.

The drawing of virtue

In another rendition of the same story, Jesus said, “Who touched me?”, He was in the press of a crowd, thronged and jostled, everyone and anyone could have been touching him, at least, that is why Peter was baffled, that he inquired, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” To which Jesus answered, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Another translation used virtue rather than power.

Everyone was touching Jesus, but this woman had a different touch of determination that drew healing power from the touch of his garment to cure at an instant a woman who had suffered a debilitating condition for 12 years.

I have none of that virtue or power, but sometimes, someone would approach from something they might have observed about me for something they need, like help, advice, comfort, encouragement, for something to quell their uneasy sense of angst, concern, or fear.

Feedback helps all

Generally, I would volunteer what I have to share in the experiences I have learnt, the choice of words I have been given to speak or write, or any other means by which I could be helpful. I guess everyone including Jesus needs some feedback and a backstory that gives context to the demand so that a full narrative of the human experience is not like a chance of fate or some hit-and-run encounter.

It is draining and exhausting when you readily and openly give that good cheer and peace into the turmoil of existence and you get nothing back in regards to whether they have been helped or not at all. Then, one does not want to become parsimonious with the blessings we have enjoyed that could be employed for the good of others, however, feedback helps encourage all participants. We are encouraged to be more helpful as much as we hope that our encouragement is of great help.

My experience giving hope

In one situation, I was approached by a young man who in his 30s was experiencing his first encounters with sex and an idea of his sexuality, he was bothered he might have contracted HIV and he was ready to do himself in if the test he was going for came back positive. Providence brought him to me to encourage him on many fronts, the necessity for the test even as he was asking if the symptoms, he was experiencing meant he had contracted HIV.

I categorically told him, that only a test could confirm his status and to go by his symptoms which could be indicative of something else would just create unnecessary anxiety. That medical result was a critical indicator of what should happen next. Then, regardless of what the test result is, it was not the end of life, rather it would mark a transition of knowledge into what to do beyond that realisation. There were examples of people who went on to do remarkable things after an HIV diagnosis.

There was extensive medical help and expertise to manage HIV so he could expect the best outcomes for both his health and his life prospects. Apart from the fact that he should not go down the avenue of blaming himself and falling into depression, but he should be prepared to face up to the interesting life ahead, that sex is there for enjoyment and not as a taboo that gives life a guilt-ridden existence.

What happened after?

I had the feeling that I had both encouraged him and given him a sense of peace, he was ready to take the HIV test and whatever the result he would make the best of it. On the day of his test, I sent him some words of encouragement, wishing him all the very best. Then I heard nothing, no communication or indication, a week passed, and it was going into the middle of the second week when I decided to send him a message.

Well, our young man was off to Malta for a holiday, and I was left none the wiser as to whether this was to celebrate or commiserate on his HIV test result or life was just going on as normal. Much as I was curious, I did not want to dampen the moment with apathy borne of my sense of losing virtue in giving encouragement but not being intimated of the consequence. I kept ruminating about it and the many other times when you give out of your deepest experiences to lift people out of despair and then just move on.

Go in peace

Now, I doubt if the woman with the issue of blood would have lost her healing if she had slunk back into the crowds and not revealed herself to Jesus and the thronging crowd. She might have had a pang of conscience, but she would have been fine. It was her prerogative to reveal or conceal herself. However, if she had concealed herself, her story would never have been told, even as Jesus knew that virtue had left him.

None of the gospel writers even bothered to ask about the woman, her name, where she was from if she had family or any other history. Her story is narrated in a few verses, she had a condition she had suffered for 12 years, she determined Jesus could help, she touched him, and she was healed. Indeed, if there is any healing we can offer humanity around us, we should continue to give liberally and generously, a lot more is contributed to that activity if we know the help offered has been helpful in any way.

As for our young friend, I do hope whatever the result, he has decided to live and live well, beyond which he can be a great blessing to others.

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