Forgetting the previous year’s experience, I’d enter the Physical Therapy room at Marindale School for the Orthopedically Handicapped looking forward to watching a movie all about me.* But the black and white child projected on the screen was a monster who exhibited jerky, uncontrolled movements and a grotesque spinal curvature. My therapist pointed to the screen cheerily announcing, “There’s Debbie!”
I wanted to say, “No! That’s not me at all!” Oh, I understood that I’d been born with Cerebral Palsy, and by age 8 I could rattle off my various symptoms. I knew about tonic neck reflex, involuntary movement and athetosis better than most adults, and I knew my physical limitations quite well. But I’m sorry: That horrible creature galloping sloppily across that home movie screen simply wasn’t me!
I learned to hate the name Debbie.
Toward the end of college, I merged my first and middle names, adding the “e” on the end to ensure femininity, and began viewing myself as the lovely DebbieLynne. I’d tell people that the name DebbieLynne represents who I really am. It distances me from the Cerebral Palsy, allowing me to feel beautiful.
I thought about all this today after John and I did our morning devotionals. Stay with me here, because the Scripture I’m about to show you is going to seem totally unrelated to whether I call myself DebbieLynne or Debbie. But I promise that, eventually, it really will make sense.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. ~~John 2:23-25 (ESV)
Jesus, whether we like it or not, has an acute awareness of exactly how sinful and wretched we really are. Even at the inauguration of His earthly ministry, He acknowledged that revealing too much about Himself before the appointed time would result in an untimely execution. He knew that even His followers had (and still have) a decided bent toward evil.
Of course, none of us (including me) fully sees the depth or pervasiveness of our sin nature. We have an intellectual awareness of it, I’ll grant you, and sometimes we catch glimpses of it in ourselves. But by and large, we generally have difficulty coming to terms with the full extent of our depravity. It’s just not how we see ourselves.
Thankfully, once we’re in Christ, the Father doesn’t see our wretchedness either. He looks at us and sees the perfect righteousness of His Son. In Christ, I am a DebbieLynne rather than a Debbie!
*The therapy department at Marindale filmed all the children annually to monitor our progress. Why they allowed us to watch the films is beyond me.