What Jesus Would Say

My heart is heavy.

The rest of the internet is celebrating, and my heart is breaking. And honestly, I’m not completely sure why.

I read the news this morning. If you’re part of the crowd that has no idea what’s going on, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nation-wide for our friends in the south. I’ve always almost prided myself for being detached in regards to anything to do with homosexuality – no need to shout my opinion from the rooftops or rave self-proclaimed truths on the internet, but this? Something is different tonight.

Something feels deeply.

I’ll be honest. It might have something to do with the tragic movie I just finished watching. But I’ll be honest. I don’t think that’s all it is, or even the start of it.

I’m still treading softly. Many of my dear friends are among those celebrating this historical monument. My facebook news feed is plastered with either people lauding complete with rainbow-tinted profile pictures, or blogs and pictures making what feel like feeble attempts to stay the good Christian course. I don’t really think I fall into either extreme on this one, but I’m not still on the fence.

So why is my heart heavy?
Because I love people.

I love people. I love people that support the LGBT community. I love people that don’t. But me? I’m black-and-white, and I’m fine with that.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m still not advertising my opinion, but I still know why I know that gay marriage is such a distorted, twisted mess of how the human race was created to be. I also still know why I’m dreading going to church on Sunday and why I don’t want to hear today’s news in Sunday’s headlines. My heart is heavy not only because I see the darkest victory of a lifetime but because I see the bitterest response from people who just don’t….don’t. I don’t know how to say it any better than that. My heart is heavy because I know Jesus’ love for a twisted, perverse generation, the kind of love that doesn’t pass over a twisted, perverse person like me irregardless of how long my recovery process takes.

And right now, I feel like I could be the last person on earth who thinks my race is going in such a tragic, tragic direction.

Well, I don’t know what Jesus would say. If that’s why you’re reading, I’m sorry. But I know what I will say to anyone who identifies as a part of the LGBT community–and how’s this for equality because it’s the same thing I will say to anyone else. I love you.

I love you.

love you.

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Least of These

“I don’t tell many guys this…”

His eyes tear in that I’m-being-my-strongest-broken-self way as he tells me of the decades of pain he’s carried since childhood and only recently become truly aware of. I nod, meanwhile conscious of my efforts to make my posture look as understanding as possible.

Do you want to know what I think is sad and regrettable? The way we (and by ‘we’ I really mean ‘me’) consider it within our ability to decide who is worthy of our care and kindness.

Maybe I should start from the beginning.

Jesus showed me someone in need, but the first chain of experiences I had of them made me hard–I decided that this was not a person I liked right from the start, and while given my position at the time it may have been well justified to be incredulous and even suspicious, through the course of time since I’ve learned something; you can’t pick and choose who deserves compassion. Because the honest truth is, I tried not to have it, but I’ve cultivated too much love in myself, and it couldn’t help but manifest when in contact with one who needed it from just one person for once. Before I knew it I was inviting him in–you’re inviting me into your house?!–offering him something to eat and drink, and calling up to my wife to heat up some leftover chilli. Any other time I would’ve told you I didn’t even like the guy.

Because who am I to decide who deserves my kindness or friendship? Because ‘the least of these Jesus’ brethren’ probably aren’t the pleasant, nice people that you think they are; they’re dirty, disliked, vulgar–but what do you expect from broken people?

Jesus, I don’t want to decide any more who deserves what I have to offer – you tell me it’s not about being deserving any more, anyway. Show me what your unbiased compassion looks like. You gave yourself for me though I’ve never deserved it, so I’m willing to give myself to others even if they don’t deserve it.

Experiencing the Broken

I caught a glimpse of brokenness.

What I remember most vividly was that she was right-handed; all the scars were on her left arm.

“Nice to meet you,”

It only took the momentary glance that I got as she reached out to shake my hand to notice the dull red lines covering the inner side of her forearm from the wrist all the way up to the elbow.

Brokenness.

I haven’t met many people in person who have or do self-harm–I certainly had never before seen the aftermath firsthand; it blew me out of the moment. I’m not saying it shocked me, per say. It gave me a fresh dosage of the reality of what I’m supposed to be doing here. By here I mean alive.

Because when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how much you talk, write or think about it. You won’t ever understand the brokenness of people until you see it first hand.

I said you won’t ever understand brokenness until you see it first hand.

I don’t mean whatever pains you went through personally was in vain, that you can’t understand that. We are all broken in some way. But until you see the brokenness in someone’s eyes, behind the daily facades of smiles and pleasantries, until you hear what their heart says over the words their mouth forms…

Have you ever read a dictionary definition of the word facade?

 

fa·cade

 [fuhsahd, fa-] ( I know, I still will say it wrong – don’t bother me  )


noun

Facade
1.
Architecture .

 a. the front of a building, especially an imposing or decorative one.

 b. any side of a building facing a
public way or space and finished accordingly.
2.a superficial appearance or illusion of something: They managed somehow to maintain a facade of wealth.

Because you’ll never know what’s on the inside of that house unless you go there.
I say this because I don’t really know. All I saw was the scratched paint on the siding. But the more evidence I see of brokenness, and the more of a reality it becomes, the more my heart breaks for the suffering, the afflicted, the broken.
And if your heart doesn’t break for the broken, I can only wonder if you’ve ever understood the brokenness that Christ endured so that the broken could be made whole again.
An unbroken body mutilated to make our self-inflicted wounds whole–to not only piece our hearts back together, but to re-create them entirely.

Tears (Encounters I)

Crimson tears were all she cried. They fell to stain the dirty carpet of her room. It was all she could do to forget–or was she simply fighting the comfort of feeling? Her brother was dead. Her sister also; she died in her arms–the poor fragile thing. She had tried to stop them but in the end the only gain had been more scars, and blood which was not her own. And then they had raped her there in her sister’s blood. Her father was beating her mother when he wasn’t drunk, and beating her when he was. Her mother blamed her, continually reminding her that she had ruined this family and caused the death of her siblings–nobody would even say ‘murder’. But she couldn’t leave, and that’s what no one understood; she just couldn’t.

I don’t want to die–

I want to feel alive.

Her eyes were dry and she wept all the more, the dirty-yellow streetlamp outside the window casting an ugly yellow glow onto the floor in front of her. Oh for just one touch of the cold moon. But there was nothing left now. She didn’t want to die; she wanted to be alive. She had lived this way for as long as she could remember, sometimes living at home, sometimes on the streets, sometimes with her uncle who had taken her innocence and damaged it almost as often as her own father had. She pressed the blade a little further and though she winced a little, the pain never lasted long. She was desperate; she needed to feel.

I don’t care anymore–

No one even knows my name.

It was getting late–even for her. Sleep rested heavily on her tortured eyelids and threatened her waking conscious. But she wouldn’t sleep, not now. She needed to wrap the fresh inflictions she had opened; the blood had already begun to dry. she would do no more tonight, but had it ever felt good–relieving–fulfilling. Relief existed only in each cut. It didn’t take long to wrap her arms. She ran her fingers over the thin bandages and the scars of various ages. She didn’t care who saw anymore; no one even knew her name.

Lauren–

Show me your scars.

“April.” She started, hurriedly pulling the loose sleeves of her hoodie–a form of apparel Webster’s still hadn’t given the proper assertion to–down over the bandages and the scars. “Lovely April…” She was sitting in the middle of the floor facing the door, yet the speaker was behind her. She didn’t turn around.

“But no one knows my name?” It was a question to herself and she only thought it, but the calm male voice from behind answered all the same.

“I know your name,” he whispered, seemingly almost from within her head. Still she did not turn around, but subconsciously was glad for her hair which covered the scars across the back of her neck. “Lauren April Mason… Show me your scars.”

I can’t let you see–

Then let me show you mine.

She turned around finally, slowly at first. Young–somewhere in his mid-thirties, she guessed–he was kneeling but a few feet behind her, dressed simply in a light plaid long-sleeved button-up t-shirt, and weathered blue jeans. His skin was rough but his eyes were kind and something else–love? She had never seen eyes like that. “Show me your scars,” he repeated himself.

“I can’t let you see,” she replied, pulling her sleeves down further. That look in his eyes, it went right through her, but she couldn’t wear her scars in front of the one who knew her name.

“Then let me show you my scars.”

By my wounds, Lauren–

Not your own.

Till now she hadn’t taken notice of his hands, but now he moved them toward her, gesturing, and she couldn’t help but be a little curious. There in the center of each palm was a deep piercing which may have gone even completely through his hands. And then she looked up to his face and saw now–though she had not before–the marks on his brow and the scars where the flesh had been torn away. And now he took her hand in his much larger and she felt the scar in his palm. And he brought her hand gently to his side and she felt the ancient wound there. He rested his hand on her shoulder.

“You’re alive by my wounds Lauren… not your own.”

You know my name?

I created you.

“Who are you? How do you know my name?” she inquired, unable to take her eyes off the scar in his hand. “You don’t know me directly, but I’ve known you all my life–and it’s been a while,” He smiled warmly, and she thought she caught a comical twinkle in his eye.

“That doesn’t even make sense–you’ve got to be like thirty years older than me,” She thought he must be crazy.

“Not to you, but it’s true all the same,” And she knew it was. “I know all about you Lauren. I know your name because I created you.”

I’ve seen everything you’ve done–

Now let me see your scars.

She shrugged his hand off her shoulder. She’d heard things like this before growing up in Sunday school, but now she wasn’t sure what to think.

“Where have you been when I needed you? Where were you when my sister was dead in my arms and they came after me while I was still soaked in her blood? When I’m on the street? Where are you when Uncle and my–my father are…” he brought his finger to her lips in a gesture of silence,

“Whether you believe it or not Lauren, I’ve always been with you. I’ve seen every moment of your life from the time you were conceived to now. I’ve seen all the things that have inspired those wounds. I’ve seen everything you’ve done. But you live in a broken world, and you don’t see me as I want you to see me. But I came to give you an opportunity to see me as I would have you see me always–and forever! Now… let me see your scars,” he replied tenderly. She turned around again to face the opposite wall. She wanted to–maybe–but she couldn’t. She wouldn’t be that weak.

I just want to hold you…

I just want to be held!

“Lauren… let me heal your wounds. I mean only the best for you,” she glanced back at his face; his eyes were entreating–pleading with her to break—and she wouldn’t. How could she? Her only comfort, her only measure of being alive–of living–was the pain and the blood, and yet she was ashamed to stand before her creator with these selfish mutilations. How could she open them up? She couldn’t. “Stop fighting it Lauren. You are accepted the way you are–I accept you… I just want to hold you!”

“I just want to be held!” her will broke and she turned around. Tears like tiny crystals welled up in her eyes though she tried with a last standing effort to keep them back.

“Let them go Lauren, they are your healing.”

I’m not just your creator–

You’re my Father.

She fell on his neck; she couldn’t help but. He embraced her, his huge arms encompassing her; she had never felt so safe. She clung to his neck and wept on his shoulder. It came hard at first; she wanted to fight it, to stop these tears, but the more that the warmth from his heart radiated into her, the less control she had.

“It’s alright, let it all come out,” his voice was even softer now in her ear, and the tears only came harder and more freely.

“Please don’t leave me,” she choked, the tears finally slowing a little.

“I will never leave nor forsake you, Lauren, my promise hasn’t changed even in two thousand years,” he soothed, “be still now.” Her sobs slowed and she raised her head to meet his eyes with hers. “I’m not just your creator, Lauren…”

“You’re my Father,” she declared quietly and then, “Okay… I’m ready.”

What about your scars?

Forever.

She slowly pulled back both sleeves of her hoodie to reveal the bandages and the scars. He stroked her black hair back from her face gently, revealing the countless marks of abuse.

“The men in your life have hurt you; your spine was out of place and would have caused you much pain because of what they did to you. It is better now,” and she had felt the vertebrae coming together into their correct places once again. Lovely Lauren. “Your healing begins,” he said, “Your scars will heal–”

“What about your scars?” she cut him off

“My scars will never heal; they will remain forever, to remind you of my love for you–I do love you, Lauren.” Forever? That meant forever loved. Forever.

You’re beautiful–

Don’t be ashamed any more.

He touched her arm, felt her scars. She wanted to pull it back, hide her shame within her sleeves. He laid his other hand on her shoulder,

“Stop fighting it. I accept you, Lauren. I accept you with your scars, new and old, self-inflicted and those given you by others. I made you. I never wanted this to happen to you, but I have a new body waiting for you without spot or blemish; the body I purposed you for.” The tears began to seep from the corners of her eyes again, and he wrapped his huge, strong arms around her again. “You are safe. You are free. You are beautiful–don’t be ashamed anymore.” She wept with full abandon, no desire left to control it. This was healing; this was life.

Don’t leave me alone!

I never have.

She knew it. With him she felt it could be true; she could be beautiful, if not for these scars… but perhaps it was like he had said about his own. Perhaps the scars were only a reminder of what she had overcome; the healing that she had only begun. She could almost feel the shame melting away within her, and she was free. Completely free!

“It’s time for me to go. You are beautiful Lauren, my love makes you so. Remember that,” he said, lifting her head and stroking back the hair again from her small face. She looked into his eyes. Love emanated from those eyes.

“Please don’t leave me alone,” she pleaded. He smiled.

“I never have Lauren, not once.”

He was gone, and she only now noticed how much brighter the room had been while he was there. I never have Lauren, not once. Could it be true? And then, yes… She knew it was, just as she had known every word he had spoken was true. And she could almost hear his voice now,

“I’m always here with you Lauren,”

Always