Stephen Mansfield begins Chapter 1 (“The Image of Our Folly”) of Healing Your Church Hurt by relating a defining image of his life that occurred at age 22. Stephen was a dormitory director at a major Midwest university. One day his pager buzzed with an urgent message to report to the sports complex. Paramedics were on the way.
When Stephen arrived the scene was chaotic. A screaming woman was covering her face with her hand, hysterically wailing “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” at an ever-increasing volume. An angry man threatened to sue Stephen, his mother, and the university for all they were worth. As the author found out, the man and woman were the parents of the child at the center of the bedlam, Timmy. Timmy’s arm seemed to have been swallowed by a candy machine. Occasionally Timmy would try to pull his arm out, but couldn’t. Blood trickled down his arm.
As Stephen ran his hand up Timmy’s arm, he noticed that Timmy’s arm was taut in a way suggesting he wasn’t stuck at all. Waving off the paramedics, Stephen stepped back, looked Timmy in the eye, and said: “Son, let go of the candy bar.” The entire incident had resulted from Timmy’s death grip on a Snickers bar.
The author emphasizes that when he’s had seasons of darkness in his life, this story serves as a reminder that “nothing can keep my soul in bondage except the forbidden or unclean thing I insist on holding tight.” Better days lie ahead if only we loosen our “death grip” on what we should have left alone in the first place.
Today’s question: Following your ministry downsizing or vocation loss, what splintered emotions were/are held in your “death grip”? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “When it’s all over, it’s not over”