From my warm spot in bed, I read emails and messages that came in through the night, roll over, set the phone down on the nightstand and push up to a sitting position. “Well, my writing career may be over,” I tell H.
Hearing those words come out of my mouth brings heat to my cheeks instantly. I tend to talk in absolutes when I’m under stress or simply assess that I haven’t met the mark somehow.
After processing the melodrama playing out in my head with H, I walk downstairs into the kitchen and fume silently as I slide pieces of clean cutlery from the dishwasher into the drawer. When my emotional verbal processing intersects with his rational thinking, tension exists between us. I’ve learned to avoid becoming a word slaying ninja by listening first and then processing truth alongside my reality at the sink with plates and forks.
He is late to work. And I have little time to prepare for an engagement: a live radio show interview about Rhythms of Rest. Because my writing career is clearly over.
On the way to the studio, I stand at the crosswalk, glance at my watch and watch people rebel against the red symbol lit up on the pole telling us to wait for traffic. Better safe than sorry I think while judging hurry and hustle cross the road.
And as that phrase interrupts my thoughts, I realize safety has become a belief system that I don’t actually value.
Because the times I’ve been most sorry in my life are the times I chose safety over risk.
Choose safety as your mantra and miss the adventure of following Jesus. Because Jesus isn’t safe, he’s beautifully dangerous.
After the radio interview, on the way home, I stand among masses in the silent tomb of the underground, listening for the rumble of a train’s arrival. Instead, I hear the wail of a child and a mother’s voice echo and bounce off the concrete walls of humanity, changing blank stares to furrowed eyebrows.
“I told you to go to the bathroom before you left! Why didn’t you listen to me? You stupid, you never, you always . . .” were the only perceptible words I discerned outside of expletives.
The audacity. The boldness. The unscrupulous act of beating up an innocent child with accusatory adult language. Through a mass of legs and brief cases, I identify the person belonging to the voice in the crowd.
She bends over tiny white legs and bare feet leaning against a stroller. Her tattered winter coat provides a partial shield for the child’s nakedness. A body exposed to cold stares, sideways glances and the strike of saturated trousers slung like a bat on weak flesh.
A person’s mistakes are not our inconvenience but an opportunity to practice grace, forgiveness and love. Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone. (John 8:1-11)
Am I throwing mental stones at a stranger?
Inside my head, I am screaming, be dangerous, don’t choose safety. Walk over there, confront condemnation with authority and provide rescue for the innocent.
But instead, I take a seat on the train and crane my neck toward the window as we move forward. And offer a prayer as consolation.
Seated across from me, a woman makes eye contact. She is flushed, fidgeting and wiping away the dark line above her eyelashes. Maybe she is agitated because the accusatory tone resounding on the platform reminded her of something painful.
It only takes a few seconds for the voice of shame to resonate eerily familiar.
The vulnerability of a child in a compromising situation is a mirror being held up for all of us, reflecting how wrong it is to allow shame a stronghold when God has destiny planned for us.
Maybe the voice of shame was the voice you were listening to when you woke up. The voice of love, it broke through my wrestling like the clarion call of a trumpeter on his way to the battle field. And suddenly, all the events of my day made perfect sense somehow.
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. AW Tozer
Maybe you’re beating yourself up for making a mistake, not planning properly, and inconveniencing someone. Maybe the words you are telling yourself would cause someone to bristle if you said them out loud.
Maybe it’s time to walk from the darkness into the light of God’s favor; wielding words of Truth and believing that freedom is possible. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – that is an absolute we can all cling to when what we think becomes distorted by circumstances.