A few days ago I posted this quote from Chieko Okazaki at Times & Seasons, and asked readers if they believed it was true.
We know that on some level Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything–absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer–how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student-body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
Today I’m sharing the next segment of the quote. Ready?
There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he doesn not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands about pregnancy and giving birth. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion.
His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) What does that mean? It means he understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter callst o say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your tow-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that.
I believe Jesus comprehends all of my experiences in mortality, including those unique to womanhood. Why? because I interpret the scriptures to say that Jesus is connected with every human being (not to mention every living thing) through the medium of the spirit, and that through this avenue he experiences everything that we experience. He’s aware of everything happening to everyone at every moment. He suffers and rejoices along with us–and there’s no division along gender lines.
Yes, Jesus has a male body, but the life in every body is the holy spirit. There’s not a separate spirit for men and women. Whatever I sense, think, and feel is part of the current that is constantly flowing through him.
What about you? Do you believe that Jesus truly understands your experiences–including those rooted in womanhood? And if so, why?