Read a book. James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I am different for having read it. Even if the book made Oprah mad. It taught me. It was a textbook that made the world more sensible yet chaotic at the same time. It scared me and shocked me and disturbed while it soothed and quieted my soul. If I never meet James Frey face to face, I know him. I know him because he is all of us. A man who fought and sometimes won and sometimes lost. When he lost, he lost big. To us, his addiction cost him his sanity, security and sense but to him it was survival.
I think the more we screw up, the less we have to lose so we keep screwing up. The moment love enters the picture, the stakes get high and we are at a crossroads. One arrow points to change, the other to death. The guy holding the signs is an old, familiar friend who has been waiting, waiting on your realization. The awareness that your day of reckoning was on its way, it was inevitable. It will hit you fast and hard. You know that Voice. It’s that part of you that is always opposing the wrong you do, that familiar Voice. The Voice that quietly speaks. Some of you stopped hearing it decades ago. Your sensitivity and awareness of Truth within you has been drowned in bad decisions, fear and shame. That Voice never left and never stopped speaking. It’s just that the “Fury” in you was louder. The shame and self-hatred’s rage drowned the Truth.
When I read Frey’s “thanks page” I cried. The horror of Frey’s life and his actions didn’t make me cry until I read who helped him. Those that loved him when he didn’t love himself. Those that saw the Truth within Him and forgave and saved.
As I held the book close, I thought about the broken, the lost and lonely. I felt their plea and their plight. It broke my heart.
On St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday, I was surrounded by revelry and mayhem. Some were innocently watching the festivities with their families while others were abusing it. It was an event that drew all and those that wanted release for just one day suffered for their cause. One in particular, one sight specifically, has haunted me. I saw the broken-up close and personal-and it haunted me. I thought of James and Roy and Leonard and Miles and Lilly. I realized I was watching true, unadulterated suffering in its most tragic form and I could do nothing. He was a man of 22 or 27 (his face was so marred that I really couldn’t tell). He was sitting on a parking tile with a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper in one hand and a handle of Whiskey in the other. He was alone. His only objective was to get one sip of Whiskey and chase it with Dr. Pepper. He was unsuccessful. He could not find his mouth and he fell quickly against the pavement spilling his precious liquid. He was so battered and swollen, not from a fight but from his own stumbling and disillusionment. Everyone surrounding him did not watch in horror but with reckless beguiling and laughter. He was a nuisance that was embarrassing himself and providing wonderful entertainment to the passerby’s. I stopped and gawked myself, a simple Christian girl seeing something she had never seen. My naiveté was blatant and nauseating.
I have never seen the inside of a crack house or whore house or jail house. I have seen the aftermath of these perilous behaviors but never seen them in real time. I wanted to go to him and save him and be the Good Samaritan that I knew I could be but instead I kept walking. I passed him by as we all did, just like the Priest and the Levite in the story. Yes. It was obvious. He had done it to himself but maybe that didn’t/shouldn’t matter. He was my neighbor and he needed me.
What could I have done? I am a 28 year old female who can barely lift my couch when I need to vacuum the floor but what do I have? I have a heart that breaks for you. A heart that weeps for you.
His memory, him wasting away on the street haunted me the entire day. That night, my boyfriend Jason and I were watching March Madness and I was memorizing my words to the kids for church and I had to stop. I looked over at Jason who was yelling at VCU and Indiana and asked him if we could pray. He smirked. He put out his hand. I know what he is thinking or…maybe I don’t. He says, “Absolutely.” I pray for that son or brother or husband or nephew or grandson who was withering away on the street. I cry for him and I ask God to give him a bed and blanket and heat for the night because I knew it was getting colder. I prayed that someone who could would love him and remind him not to hate himself. I wanted him to know Love, real perfect love that cast out fear and saves. I said Amen and I went back to my task of memorizing.
I may have passed him by but I will never forget what He taught me. He taught me to never dismiss the broken.
I thought of the blind beggar in the Bible who was begging for the Messiah. The nuisance on the street who all ignored, even the disciples. I thought of the woman with the issue of blood and the woman caught in adultery. I thought of the demon possessed man and the man who laid beside the pool of Bethesda for decades. I thought of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof and the rich young ruler and the ten lepers and those that cried “crucify Him!” I thought of the lame and the deaf and the dumb and the stupid and the irresponsible and the fool and the thief and the liar and the whore. I thought of the sinner. The broken and the lost imprisoned by their pain. Whether self-inflicted or victims of fate, they are enslaved by their circumstance and Jesus never passed them by. The only time he passed them by is when He was carrying their shame and guilt and mistakes and failures on an old, splintered cross that bore into His flesh and marred His frame, breaking him and ruining Him. He was scarred by harm and addiction and anger as He was hammered to wood left to die. As the darkness ensued, and the light left, He forgave and took it. He endured without blame or anger or resentment. He accepted and submitted to the fate of all our mistakes. All our stupidity and failure. He did it because You and I matter. Our lives matter and our futures matter. He wants us to love like that. Love our neighbor as ourself and forget the past. It hangs on a tree. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He died knowing we would fail over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. We would disgrace His name and His death. We would ignore it and spit on it and come back and ask for more. His answer is a smile and an outstretched hand that is marred with scars the size of a 9″ nail.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement, our need to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him, we are healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:5
Jesus never passes you by. He never refuses His love no matter how many times you need it.
I need it. I need it every second. I fail continually, say the wrong thing, judge another and speak without regard. I need Him. I shed my shame for His peace. I am made whole with blood that spilled so that it can cover and heal. Whether I am a victim or a initiator of my own demise, I submit to a God who IS love.
If you believe in love than you believe in God. God is Love. 1 John 4:16.
I cried today for the broken and the lost. I cried for you because you are loved. Crazy loved. I sang these words to Jesus as I cried…
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I go from nothing to Eternity