Recently I was reading a well-known scripture in Mark 5: 21-41. The young daughter of Jairus, one of the synagogue leaders, was dying, and this propelled him to approach Jesus in a crowd and beg him to heal his daughter. On the way to his house, Jesus felt the touch of the woman who had the issue of blood, which caused Him to stop and assure her of her healing. I am certain Jairus was going crazy with this delay, and even if he didn’t say it, he had to be thinking “My daughter is dying and You need to come now!” When they eventually got to Jairus’s house, his daughter had already died. But Jesus saw it differently and in verse 41, it says, “Holding her hand, He said to her ‘Talitha koum,” which means, ‘Little girl, get up!”
Most of us, me included, see this as a scripture about healing and raising someone from the dead, and it is. But what resonated within me when I read it a couple of weeks ago was, “little girl.” “Talitha” means “little girl” in Aramaic, and what it touched in me was the “little girl” that still resides in me. I may be 61 years old, but there are some things that happen in life that make the little girl rise up in me. Our childhood experiences, whether good or bad, can shape our current ways of thinking. My childhood was a good one with my family. I had loving parents that I still love dearly, even though they’ve passed on (funny how your love doesn’t die even after the loved one does). But it was childhood experiences with certain friends or classmates that were the most negative for me.
For instance, my kindergarten teacher handed out a paper with different pictures on it and told us to use all different colors when we colored it. I decided to color mine with just the color green (I have no idea why). She took my paper, tore it up in front of the class, and announced that I had done it the wrong way. Another defining incident, when I was around 11, was at 4-H camp. Normally I loved 4-H camp, but this year there was a counselor who did not seem to like me and would eliminate me from playing a team game if the two teams had to be even. Finally, other kids complained that she always chose me to sit out. When I was a teenager, I recall hanging out on a friend of a friend’s porch with a bunch of girls. One by one they all got up and went into her house, and then called out to me through the door, “Alisa, we’re going to be in here for a while.” I had to walk down the steps and up the sidewalk, knowing they didn’t want to be with me anymore. In high school I had very skinny legs and braces, so the nicknames “motor mouth” and “bird legs” were often said in the school’s hallways. As an aside, my mother told me my thin legs would work in my good stead someday, so don’t you worry about your skinny legs. She was right. 😊
We carry forward into adulthood things that have hurt our feelings or embarrassed us as children. Then when we have hurtful or embarrassing experiences as an adult, the little girl or little boy rise up in us. For instance, I got a job one time that a co-worker did not think I deserved and told me so. Of course, my “little girl” feelings of embarrassment, hurt, and intimidation all came up to the surface; but I had to tell myself to get up and rise above it And recently I almost drove through a red light with my family in the car because I was following the car in front of me like a lemming. I got terribly embarrassed and reacted angrily toward my husband, Frank, who kept me from going through the light. Instead of being thankful to him, I reacted out of embarrassment.
And speaking of Frank, I’ve learned that childhood experiences can affect men in adulthood, too. Frank’s family moved a lot when he was a child, which brings with it the emotional effort required to make new friends in a new town and encounter new situations often. These experiences can be pulled into his adult encounters when he is faced with new situations. I told him that he is the most introverted extrovert I know.
A pivotal moment of realizing I could rise above my little girl experiences happened when I was in my 30’s and I think of it often. I was talking to my mother on the phone, describing a mild childhood experience with her that still bothered me. She was quiet for a few seconds and then said something life-changing for me. “Honey,” she said, “you’re all ‘growed’ up now. It’s not my fault anymore.” That was a “Talitha koum” moment for me. I realized I am ‘growed’ up, and I needed to get up and move forward.
I found out the term “Talitha” is interchangeable between girl and boy in its definition. In addition, it has another meaning: “little wounded lamb.” This is precious. We are all little wounded lambs inside from things that have hurt us, whether they happened in our childhood or just last week. What we can do, as wounded lambs, is depend on the best Shepherd of all. Jesus will help us get up, He will help us to not be leveled by others or incidents, and he will help us move forward.
He will hold our hands and say, “Talitha koum.”