About a year ago, I had a friend I was really close to stop talking to me. Just up and disappeared out of my life. I tried to reach out to her numerous times and she just ignored my messages. So I stopped messaging her and waited for her to come to me instead. And I waited, and waited. I beat myself up for a while wondering what in the heck could I have done wrong to make her not want to talk to me anymore? We didn't get into a fight or have a disagreement. One minute everything was great and the next I didn't exist. Well time went on and she deployed for six months. Jose and I kept in contact with her husband to make sure he was getting through the deployment ok, and to hang out with his totally cool mom! (Seriously though, she rides a motorcycle. It doesn't get much cooler than that) Then June rolls around and said former friend comes home. Well the deployment took its toll on her marriage and some truths came out, gossip flew around, and overnight this gals reputation was tarnished, and her marriage was over.
I can't say I wasn't mad at her as well, because I was. One day Jose and I saw her as we were out and about and my immediate reaction was to stretch out my arms and give her a big hug. Yea, I know. I was yelling at my body to stop, don't hug her, she betrayed you and everyone around her. (insert the rest of those horrible judgy thoughts we all have). But I hugged her and asked how she was doing, she said good just getting dinner for her and her husband. It hit me then that she didn't know that I knew (her husband had left her already) and at that moment my anger and judgement melted away into sadness. As I said goodbye and wished her well, I looked back and all I saw was a broken woman. She's been on my heart ever since.
There have been many a time in my life where I've messed up, where I've been confused about who I was, where I thought no one was watching so what's it going to hurt if I'm having a good time?
And every time my sins were found out and I was put on public display to be shamed for the rest of my life. Except I had Jesus. He forgave me when I repented and changed my ways. He gave me mercy, he showed me grace. All of which by anyone else's account, I was undeserving of and probably would have stoned me to death if they could have. There were a few people that distanced themselves from me but they still loved me. They came around once I came around to my senses and convictions. They didn't see me as this horrible person who was deserving of desertion. They saw me as the broken mess that I truly was and they loved me back to being whole.
It's a common story really. Most of us can relate or have/are going through it right now. But I'll tell you what I've learned from my brokenness with the best country analogy that I've got.
Have you ever been in an old barn? You know how some of the boards are broken in various places? At night, all you can see is the broken boards and the cold that they let in to the barn. But watch the sun rise through those pieces of brokenness and watch how the light hits the hay or the inside of the barn. You know the kind I'm talking about, light so perfect that you can see all the dust particles floating in the air where it falls. It's stunning isn't it? For a while you forget about the broken boards and just stand in awe at the beauty you are surrounded by.
That's kind of like life. If we take the time to see and appreciate the beauty in our brokenness, only then can we help our neighbor who is fixing his broken barn boards with money, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.
You see I wasn't mad at my friend because of what she did. I was mad at her because she reminded me of who I used to be. I judged her like I was judged and in that moment I looked back at her and I saw how broken she was, I also saw a little bit of me. To deny her any grace and forgiveness would be to deny that I had ever made mistakes in my life. And that folks would be very hypocritical of me to do. I pray that when others hurt us or dissapoint us, we are slow to judge their mistakes and instead see them as broken people who simply need Jesus.
In other words, take those people to your barn and show them the beauty that lies in being broken. God's love is the only love that will ever put our shattered pieces back together and make us whole again.
Ah, mercy, isn't it beautiful?