This past Sunday I spoke about the woman with the “issue” of blood (Matthew 9:18-26). The religious law of that day condemned her to a belief that she was soiled and unworthy.

As I prepared the teaching the word “issue” stood out for me as I thought about my struggle with pornography and how it made me feel soiled and unworthy. To not feel condemned, unworthy, soiled and filthy I’d do some kind of penance after acting out yet again. Penance for me was something that I’d do to show God that I was sad or sorry about the wrong I had done. Think of it as my “washing ritual” in order to purify myself.

I internalized the condemnation I felt about my “issue” which increased the volume of the voices within. The voices charged me with guilt, shame and the belief that I was inferior and that there was something wrong with me.

I trusted “my works” to receive the cleansing I desired. Somewhere deep within me I believed Jesus wanted nothing to do with me until I made things right through days of penance, proving to Him that I was worth forgiving.

Faith would’ve believed like the woman with the issue of blood that touching Jesus was enough. Faith pushed her to go ahead and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment despite her feelings of uncleanness. By touching Jesus she heard the words, “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “Your faith has healed you.”

In Spanish the word “to struggle or wrestle” is lucha. I had to learn how to struggle, wrestle and push through and past the condemning voices within that told me Jesus wanted nothing to do with me. This is the voice of Satan that condemns and looks to keep us bound up in our guilt and shame.

Freedom comes when we realize that God’s heart is tender, merciful and kind not mean and angry. And that He longs for us to return to His loving and forgiving Presence.

May we all become “luchadores” as we name our “issue” then push, struggle, and wrestle to touch Jesus garment. Because this woman was willing to struggle, and pushed through the crowds she benefitted from Jesus’ power.

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