“The Angel in Troubled Waters”
“For an angel went down in a certain season into a pool, and troubled the water:
whosoever then first, after the troubling water, stepped in, was made whole…” John 5:2-9
Sue Monk Kidd is most famous for being the author of The Secret Life of Bees, which was a New York Times bestseller. In her book, Firstlight, Sue reviews her early writings for “Guide Post Magazine”. She quotes the Bible passage above to reveal her experience one Christmas. While decorating her mantel in her home, Sue’s chest began to pound in pain. Finding herself hitched up to an electrocardiograph in the hospital, she heard a doctor pronounce, ‘your chest pains seem to be stress-related.”
Sue Monk Kidd was forced to face the pace of her life, the disorienting speed at which she lived, the overload of her activities. Her inability to say, ‘no’, to anyone was killing her. She imagined her life as the squiggly lines of the electrocardiograph that ran every-which-way.
While living with her constant ‘busyness’, Sue was vaguely aware of longing for something she neither understood nor could name. Her life was coming apart, so she desperately opened her Bible and found herself reading about the lame and sick who laid around the pool of Bethesda, hoping to enter the waters, as they were troubled, so they could be made whole. Sue wondered if this mysterious story was trying to tell her something profound:
Had an angel entered her soul to trouble the waters?
Was she being asked to step down into her troubled depths
and become whole?
Was this her ‘certain season’, her holy moment?
Sue turned to her church and began attending solitary, spiritual retreats, where she might peel away the surface issues of her life to find this angel from God. The angel taught her she was a perfectionist, who won love and approval by doing and performing. Her life was run by agendas and schedules because she constantly told herself that ‘if you want to be loved, you must make yourself loveable’. She had never considered that she was intrinsically of value, loved because of who she was rather than for what she produced. It was a truth difficult to acknowledge and difficult to accept.
Sue Monk Kidd, who at one point was reduced to using blue tranquilizers to get through her day, finally realized that her frantic pace was starving her from the intimacy and wonder she needed, a holy presence she was too busy to cultivate. Slowly her hunger was transformed because in the ‘troubled waters’ of her life, she embraced a mysterious message from an angel.
What a mysterious story! When our lives become turbulent, is it possible God’s message is just below the surface? Is God’s purpose, though perhaps unseen, there in the midst of our profound struggles?
In mid-life, Sue Monk Kidd became an inspirational writer for “Guidepost Magazine”. She met all her deadlines and schedules never realizing that God was sending her an angel to ‘trouble the waters’. During this time, Sue felt her life was devastated but, to her surprise, there was new life developing … a secret life to be.