Do you remember Baby Jessica?
We are closing in on the anniversary of an event that captivated a watchful nation. Next week it will have been 24 years since Baby Jessica McClure became famous. At the age of 18 months after falling into her parents backyard well in Midland, Texas, on October 14, 1987 the whole nation held its breath as dedicated workers tried to free her from that well. Between that day and October 16, rescuers worked for 58 hours to free “Baby Jessica” from the eight-inch-wide well casing 22 feet (6.7 metres) below the ground. I can’t imagine the emotions and the feelings of her parents as they had to endure 58 hours of torment of waiting to know if they would see their little girl again.
I remember feeling that I couldn’t breath. It was if I was stuck in that hole with her and feeling helpless that I couldn’t do anything about it. The sense of relief and satisfaction was overwhelming as she was finally lifted from that well. Is was if the whole nation finally took a breath at the same time.
Twenty four years later Jessica, despite 15 operations, nine blood transfusions, and the loss of part of her foot, grew up protected from media attention by her young parents Chip and Cissy. She skateboarded, she learned the piano and French horn, and, on the rescue’s tenth anniversary, her parents – by then divorced – allowed Ladies Home Journal the only interview. In it, Jessica said she was bored by talk of her “incident” and, referring to the scars she bore, said, maturely: “I’m proud of them. I have them because I survived.”
But Jessica wasn’t the only one with scars from her being stuck in the well. Her parents divorced; Robert O’Donnell, one of her rescuers, committed suicide eight years later (due, his brother said, to the stress and attention); and the portrayal of people in a subsequent film of the rescue split the community so badly the local mayor had to appoint a commission to settle the squabbles.
There are many lessons to learn from this story. It reminds me that we all get stuck at some point in our life. Stuck at points of our life that cripple us in the days ahead. From that “stuck place” we find that we now “walk with a limp.” Something happened, we were hurt, wounded, broken, abused, sinned against. A parent died, a wife left, a child became ill, and we got stuck at that terrible event…at that moment in our life.
I’m finding that the problems in people’s lives are often the result of their stuck places. From that wound, that death, that divorce we are emotionally stuck and cannot go further, cannot grow, cannot walk away from the wound and so we carry our woundedness with us and sadly create stuck places for others we encounter. We are the walking wounded, the mass of humanity stuck in the past hurts and wounds of our lives that have affected us and now affect those around us.
Stuck places…places we remember vividly because of what they have done to us, moments in time we have recorded in our brains we can replay in high-definition detail. We are stuck because of what happened, because of what someone said, what they did to us, how they hurt us. We remember every detail, every moment. We are stuck.
This morning I was talking with a friend and described my thoughts on this topic. He knew immediately his stuck place and described it in fine detail, as if it had happened yesterday, but in fact it was decades ago. It was life changing for him, he’s never forgotten it, he knew exactly when, where and how he got stuck. It’s changed him, it changed his family and his life.
I know this may not fit with all the counseling models I read about, but I also know that I am seeing this more clearly in each talk I have with someone who is having a difficult time in life, something happened and they got stuck.
Imagine this multiplied by 6 billion. The whole of humanity stuck in the pain and hurt, rejection and abuse of their pasts. Imagine the wounds that are still open, still tender, still bleeding from what has happened in our pasts. Imagine what can happen when even one person brings all their mess, all their issues for God to resolve.
Where was Jesus when you were hurt, when you were rejected, when you were abused? Where was God when you got stuck? The answer… He was right there with you, walking you through your hurts , your abuse, your divorce, your rejection. It is God’s great desire that we take our brokenness to Him and allow Him to heal, restore, and move you past the pain of your past. He wants to take you far beyond the point at which you got stuck. He wants to lead you to your future.
Are you stuck today? Jesus Christ awaits patiently, waiting for the opportunity to rescue you. Let Him heal the pain from your past… it can start today.