He Said No

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world" - C.S. Lewis

When I was around 11 years old I remember being in gym class. Johnny Gingles gym class at North Elementary School. I said something or did something. I don't really remember what. But I do remember what she said. I remember a girl looking at me and saying

"You're weird"

And at that moment I thought "She's right. I am. I'm not normal" But it's like I didn't care. Or I didn't know I was supposed to care. I mean, I wasn't a social outcast. I liked everyone and everyone like me. But my cloth seemed to be cut a little different. Not much has changed. Except it's been amplified times a thousand. It feels like the more I pray for spiritual eyes, the more He changes my lens and the more uncomfortable normal becomes. It is a peaceful wrestling. There is a deep richness that comes with seeing life from the lens of your heart. His heart. It is a mixture of the pains of empathy tainted with the anger of reality, and drenched in a longing for more of the very thing that puts you in that place discomfort. Feelings of disconnection can run deep.

"I feel most understood when I am by myself" I said. "Really?!" he said. Wait - what did I just say? That's weird. That doesn't even make sense. But nothing was more true. I did. And I do. Like now.....

I am lying here by myself on this beach chair on my stomach by a pool on the 9th floor of a building in the middle of downtown Nashville reading a book. Surrounded by chatter about the latest parties, celebrity gossip, and fashion. How to make more money and climb more ladders. A cute hat on my head and black sunglasses covering my eyes. And I am crying. Crying after reading these words from Shane Claiborne on a trip to Iraq:

"I grew especially close to one of the 'shoeshine boys' - a homeless boy around 10 years old named. Mussel (in Baghdad) ...Day after day...we grew on each other. We went on walks, turned somersaults and yelled at airplanes "Salaam" (Peace!).... Mussel began internalizing what was happening..Nothing I could do made him smile.. he mimicked with his hands the falling of bombs and made the sound of explosions, as tears welled up in his eyes. suddenly he turned and latched onto my neck. He began to weep and his body shook as he grasped for each breath of air. I begin to cry... we wept as friends, as brothers, not as a peacemaker and a victim."

And I wept with them. Lying in my chair a world away. Longing to be in the dirt with Mussel. Craving to be in the street with him. Dirty. There. in Iraq. Who is with him now? He is not a name in a book. I know that now. He is somewhere. He is somebody.

There are some words that should not go together.

Children. Bombs. Guns. War. Slave. Just to name a few.

I close my eyes. Yes, I am tired. By choice, I am transparent. Too many years behind masks and hiding behind locked doors. Life is to be lived together and out loud. Not in the shadows and with hidden tears. I talk often about the fear of the pedestal. I talk openly about past struggles and am candid about poor choices that God has patiently taught me from. He has taught me much and there is no place I would rather be than at the foot of the Rabbi. Living. Learning. Loving. Until it hurts.......

I look down. I read more of Shane's time in Iraq. I read this:

"One day we had a birthday party for a girl names Amal... As we were playing a little game of balloon volleyball, bombs began to explode in the background.... One explosion hit very close. A couple of us huddled down with the little children. I looked at the young teenager who had courage I could only dream of, she looked deep into my timid eyes and said "It's okay. Don't be scared" .. Later when we asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She said "Peace"'

My heart begins to break again. Yes, I am tired. I am tired of coming home to an empty home to cuddle in an empty papazon. I am tired of people thinking I am special when I am not. I am tired of the tug of war that comes with raising monetary funds to meet spiritual needs. I am tired. But

I Am Not Tired ... of this place. I am not tired of this space I am in and this heart that overflows. I am weary of many things. But I am not weary of Love. I am not weary of the heartache that comes from loving until it hurts. The deeper I go into His heart the more I find the broken. The more I find the beautiful. Around every corner. Around every letter I find from a child. Around every drawing of a body. Around every story heard on my sofa in my office. Around every insight of wisdom I hear from the suffering.

Imagining I am walking through the heart of the Savior. I do not see pretty. I do not see neat. I do not see married, 2.5 kids, and a picket fence. I do not see pretty faces and plastic smiles.

What do I see? I see the lonely. I see the deserted. I see the depressed. I feel the pains of the homeless who are dying alone. I hear the heartbeat of the homeless child who is shaken at night by bombs. I feel the softness of the mother's hand who longs to hold her baby she has aborted. I taste the salt in the tears of the father who was forced to say goodbye too soon to his son. I do not see the pretty nor the perfect nor the nice nor the neat.

Not in the broken heart of Jesus.

I see the ugly. I see the lost. I see Mary Magdeline. Many men had known her body - but only one man knew her soul. She was abused and turned aside and given up on. And He said - no. No. I do not see you as they do. I do not see you as you do. You will not find that here. Not in my heart.

You are not who you were or what was done to you or what you have seen or what you have done. That is not what I see when I look at you.

I see Me. In you.

I am there. In the street. In the shadows. In the nights of silent tears. In the mirror and the feelings of inadequacy. In the bombs. In the thinking you can't go on. In the hoping you won't. In the fear. In the silence. In the dirt. In the loneliness. In the hiding. I am there. And I See you. And I love you. Scars and all.

I Love You.

Father God, there are times that words actually leave me. Times like these. All I know to do is to thank you for breaking my heart. And in a weird way, I ask you to keep breaking it. And for Mussel and Amal and all of those of us who have been, will be, or are being broken. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for seeing past who we see ourselves to be. Thank you for seeing you in us.

I am, gratefully and forever -

Yours, b