I lay face down on the massage table and let the massage therapist know that, lately, I had a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders but also in my mid-back. She began her good work, taking extra time where the knots felt like rocks under my skin. She suggested I splurge for the ninety-minute deep tissue massage next time, and I sighed out a muffled “mmhmm.”
When she got to the middle of my back and pressed firmly into the muscles behind my ribs, I suddenly began to cry. Tears dripped straight to the floor from my squished face, and I tried hard not to let out a full-on sob and a wail. I didn’t know how to make sense of this unexpected release. Was it sadness? Pain? Grief? Why did that spot feel tender — not only in my body but for my soul?
I remembered reading about how we hold traumas and stress in our bodies and how our bodies, minds, and souls are intricately intertwined with one another. One affects the other, both in pain and in healing.
My marriage was hurting at that time, and every interaction with my husband felt like needles endlessly poking and triggering pain points I’d thought had scabbed over. We were constantly on edge with each other, unable to trust the other as safe. I didn’t have to think long to figure out what the pain was, but it was new and strangely reassuring to me that the tension of my marriage had found its way to my back and lodged itself there.
What I couldn’t fully process or express, what I didn’t know how to fix, every sad, bitter, and angry anguish could somehow be reached, consoled, released. The intangible became tangible. And with the touch of a human hand, I was comforted by a divine one.
Jesus was the physical embodiment of God, and He often touched people when healing them — a leper, a blind man, and Jairus’s daughter, among others. He took the little children into His arms, placed His hands on them, and blessed them. His touch mended wounds, both seen and unseen, and restored wholeness and dignity.
There are times when I wish Jesus could have lived forever with us on earth. Perhaps we could’ve all gotten a chance to experience His touch first hand. But then I think of the expansive reach of the body of Christ — those who profess and live out God’s love as Jesus did — and it makes sense that He left this earth to take His place at the right hand of God and left us with the gift of the Holy Spirit. God with us, always, is in each of us, so that through our words, our presence, our touch, we might also be a balm for others.
Now, when my body aches during painful seasons, I remember that grief isn’t just an emotion — it’s a lived, bodily experience. Jesus Himself must’ve carried grief in His body too, knowing what was to happen to Him. And then, He bore it all on the cross – the ache, the burden, the inconsolable sadness, the raging anger, the maddening injustice, the ugliest and most terrible thoughts and actions of humankind. He bears the scars that tell us He’s held it all in His body and holds us now in our pain.
It’s been several years since I spontaneously cried on the massage table, and since then, there has been more grief and pain than I can count — personally and globally. I know we all hold so much in our bodies, whether we know it or not. So when the aches happen, when fatigue and weariness weigh us down, I hope we can be gentle with ourselves, knowing that Jesus bore it all and helps us bear what we must too.Leave a Comment