We sat around the lunch table, a group of volunteer workers of which I had the title of leader. We were a good fit as a team and were enjoying our time together. Conversation covered a range of topics and on this particular day we had been presented a situation that none of us were quite sure how to handle. We discussed the seriousness of it and made several suggestions on how best to deal with it. Then comments turned toward one who was involved. Surely they know better. Why would they do that? That’s just not right.
I sat silent as I wondered what these women would say if they knew that was me. Oh, the circumstances were different and it was long before I had met my current cohorts, but the actions of this one talked about mirrored my own at a very difficult point in my life. If they knew this about me would they deem me unworthy to sit with them, work with them, be a leader? Could they understand the choices a damaged soul makes in a panicked effort to find healing? It’s hard to understand if you haven’t been there.
All I could say was “When you’re really messed up you don’t know how messed up you are.”
It’s very much like someone who knows they are sick but they think it to be only a really bad cold. They struggle with the symptoms and employ every effort to heal themselves. Scattered among the days they feel like death warmed over, there are the good days when they feel fine. This surely must be an indication they are healing. They let this drag on and on until finally they surrender and go for help only to discover that what they have is not a cold but rather a very serious case of pneumonia. The treatments needed are significantly different from those for a common cold, possibly even hospitalization, and without the help of the physician this one who is sick would continue in their misdiagnosis and all the wrong treatments, frustrated that they could not find relief. That was me.
My mind moved from thoughts of this one in the midst of trouble to the women who sat with me sharing their opinions and implied judgement. Before life took me through some serious trials, I was one quick to judge and quick to lack compassion when the faults of others were so clearly evident to me. I was one weighing sin as if mine were somehow more acceptable to God than the sins of others. I was one discussing the error of their ways, feigning concern but really just gossiping. But I had no judgement for those who shared my table because it wasn’t that long ago when that was me.
There was a day years ago when I raged and hurled my accusations toward God until I was spent, then crumpled into sobs that poured out the weariness of my damaged heart. The realization that all the years of trying to heal myself had only made things worse weighed heavy on me. I was empty and alone, broken and defeated. It wasn’t easy to admit how spiritually sick I was, but it was here that I found Healing. The process of heart-repair seemed to move at a snail’s pace, God being unwilling to rush despite my pleas. But in yielding to His work the good days slowly began to outnumber the bad and I began to experience the mercy and grace I had always heard about but never really understood. That was me.
The scars in our lives should remind us that those we see who appear so messed up probably don’t know just how messed up they are. Our opinions and judgments are simply more of the wrong kind of treatments for what ails them and will never assist their healing. Having experienced ourselves the lovingkindness, the longsuffering, the mercy, and the grace of our amazing God that worked healing in our lives, how can we withhold it from every other who is sick from sin?? We are called to be the vessels containing the nature and character of God, vessels that pour that very nature of love and compassion on all. This is you. This is me. This is who we are.
“That was me” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com