As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:26)
Read: Leviticus 13:1-59, Mark 6:1-29, Psalm 39:1-13, Proverbs 10:10
Relate: You don’t normally see younger girls wearing the hijab. Maintaining the fiction that is is always something done by choice and not an imposition placed on them by culture, neighbors, and/or family most girls who wear it start doing so somewhere between the ages of ten and fifteen. I don’t know if there are any formalities or regulations surrounding this and it hasn’t been something I have felt comfortable asking but it is a rare thing to see a girl under ten wearing one. There are, of course exceptions and one of those is a seven year old girl in one of my classes. For her the hijab is a mercy. It covers up burn scars and a mangled ear on the right side of her face. I don’t know the story behind those scars beyond, “It happened in Syria before she came here.”
That makes the zit right on the center of my forehead seem like such a small thing. It doesn’t, however, in my pettiness make me any less self conscious about it. I first noticed the thing midway through the day yesterday. I am sure it will be gone in another day or two. I don’t get them often and they don’t last long, but for as long as it is there I will be imagining everyone I talk to staring right at it for the duration of the conversation. In my mind the thing sticks out more than Pinocchio’s nose. I actually found myself switching hats this morning because some can go a little lower on my head to cover it up while others cannot. Anything to hide my blemish.
React: Reading through Leviticus on infectious skin diseases this morning I found my mind drifting to my own blemish and then to Z with her burns hidden behind that white hijab. Her smile and character are such that she doesn’t really need it. She is beautiful. But I understand her desire, her need, to hide it. I begin to think that on some levels having a place outside the camp for those with infectious skin diseases to go to was a mercy. Others don’t have to see their disease. They don’t have to see their shame.
It also reminds me how scandalous Jesus’ grace was when he approached the leper, and touched him, and healed him. If I know anything about human nature, I know that there must have been conflicting emotions in those healed as Jesus approached. On the one hand they would not want to be seen. Not like that. They would have cringed away from unfamiliar human contact when Jesus reached out His hand. But on another level there would have been a deep, deep longing to be seen. There would have been a desperate yet repressed need for loving human contact. Even as they cringe and cover, a longing to be seen in spite of their blemish. I can picture Jesus smiling at my zit and at all of our petty insecurities. I can also see Him embracing Z even as he weeps at the very physical result of human sin just as he weeps for our sin and the scars it leaves on our own as well as other’s souls. He still sees us even as we desperately try to hide our spiritual blemishes. He loves us and reaches out for us even as the world and our own fears ostracizes us from others and tries to keep things hidden. He still touches. He still heals. Sins. Scars. Memories. He sees them all and yet somehow, scandalously, He loves us anyways.
There’s a spot on my soul I so desperately want to hide. Sometimes I forget how small and minor it is compared to the grace You have already done for me. There’s a scar on my heart from the treatment and abuse and sin of others who have so deeply hurt me. I try so hard to cover it up and hope nobody else will ever notice what has been done. But You see. You know. And You love me through all of my blemishes. Forgive me for my insecurities and fears. Give me the courage to lower the veil and show the world not only my weakness and failure but also Your grace that is greater. Let Your love for me through it all be a catalyst for the healing of so many others with blemishes of their own.