Why I Cried in Walmart on Good Friday

I have been thinking long and hard about the significance of this week, and searching for the words to convey the length that Christ went to in order to save me. All week long, the well of words was dry. IMG_0908

I had only gone to Walmart to pick up some dog food and carpet cleaner. But outside, there was a man asking for donations to support a homeless shelter. I didn't have cash on hand, but he said they would take anything from laundry detergent to feminine hygiene products.

I have to confess, donating isn't something I normally do. Neediness makes me uncomfortable, and so I typically look the other way. But I met God today in the Walmart parking lot, and he reminded me that what I have done for the least, I have done for him.

More than that, he reminded me that he has never seen my neediness and looked the other way. In fact, when I didn't have it in me to meet halfway, he came all the way to find me.

That's the grace we sing about. I once was lost, but now I'm found. He came all the way to find me and restore the relationship that had been severed. He came and found me and called me daughter. 

Like the hemorrhaging woman,  I want to avoid making a scene. I want to come up from behind to touch him, receiving my dose of grace and slipping away without being noticed.

But he knows my anxious thoughts. From before the first let there be, he was intimately aware of me. Before the stars were spoken, before the first flower budded, he delighted in me.

Before I knew it, I had collected a small basket of deodorant, toothpaste, and soap to give away. I wept up and down the aisles, convicted by the thought of the great lengths Christ went to so I could be clean.

Perhaps it is elementary, but sometimes, God and I need to go back to the basics. I am quick to forget, quick to revert to a life of striving and flailing, trying to fill myself up.

He saw me when I was empty, when I had absolutely nothing to offer, and believed that I could be made beautiful again. He sees my cracked heart and whispers that this is how I can showcase this glory. He is always making me whole.

And he promises to go before me. I will never carry a cross that he did not first carry on my behalf. He went the distance to prove that he was, and is, trustworthy.

He assumed the debt that I owed and could never repay -- took my punishment upon himself. If he hadn't come, I would still be alone, scouring in the dark for something, someone who could save.

He came and he died so that I could come alive.

I don't ever want to forget.

You, me, and everyone we know.

Somebody tell me where God lives because if God is truth, God doesn't live here. -- Andrea Gibson

I am slowly learning how to live a quiet life. That said, words are truly the only way that I know how to meet with the Good One, and so this is my altar. This is how I reach up, and one of the ways that I know to reach out. Sometimes, I cannot come in peace, so I come in the only other way I know how, which is in pieces. It takes strength to be weak. I write because I believe in the Bride. I write because what I want to do, I cannot muster the courage to do, but what mindsets and behaviors I don’t want, I find myself addicted to. We could all be so much better. Things can be different, if we choose.

I realize that the Truth is divisive. Some have manipulated this mindset to excuse their malice towards others that they deem less. But the table turning Jesus was far more concerned about the people on the outside of the temple than he was about those who thought better of themselves on the inside. He came for the sick. He left the ninety-nine for the one. To use Christ's actions in the temple as justification for our own hatred of others not only displays a gross misunderstanding of the scriptures, but a gross misrepresentation of the gospel.

We have so many lofty theological discussions, and can recite our dogma forwards and backwards, but I wonder if we really understand. I wonder if when we look at the living and active Word we can really say that we know Father God's heart and character well enough to understand that His ways are not our own. Hallelujah, His ways are not my own.

Again and again, we have chosen the lie that leads to our fall. Moreover, we have become the liars. We tell homosexuals, Muslims, people of other political affiliations, that they are not worthy of what Jesus did for them. We have created the culture of "us four and no more," and have clung to it out of fear of what we don't understand. We are prideful and rebellious, labeling our own sin, our lies, our lust, our adultery, our idolatry, as somehow less shameful than others. Christ met with the foreign woman at the well,  he allowed the bloodied woman to touch him, and he reached for the leper. Our lights are off, and we like it better that way. We don’t like seeing ourselves, don’t like others seeing our broken parts. We are both the prodigal, and the older son, who feels as though he has been forgotten and allows himself to become bitter. Yet the Father says “everything I have is yours.” The book of James says that we do not have because we do not ask. Scripture is beautiful that way. It is convicting that way.

From the fall, humanity has had in mind that God is somehow holding out on us. Why then, are we not satisfied with all that we have here on this earth? Why do we not answer the knock on the door and allow the Lord to come in and eat with us? This craving to experience glory has been rooted in our souls since the beginning of time. Knowing this, how could every breath not be worship? We have been called out of the darkness and depravity of the grave, and yet we still wear our grave clothes around like security blankets. We live by a law that emphasizes our shame over his grace, condemning both ourselves and our brothers and sisters. We don’t want to know who we are, because that would mean realizing our responsibility to live in light of his gracious response to our depravity.

We do not act justly, and we do not love mercy. We have become like the pharisees whom Jesus himself rebuked. We know the law, and we debate it down to the punctuation in order to prove ourselves wise and others wrong. There is a vast difference in calling out sin in someone’s life in order to prove that you are right, and bringing something to their attention for the sole purpose of becoming holy. Somewhere along the way, that got blurry. So we end up obsessing over sins that we do not struggle with, pointing them out in others, saying to ourselves “well at least I’m not that person.”  We walk around like we don’t have the answers, as if we are not the best representation of love that people have to go on. We still don’t know what love is.

As we approach Easter, I think of what has become known as the Triumphal Entry. Israel was looking for a king who could defeat Rome and put the nation back on top of the political chain. But Jesus didn't come to agree with anybody's politics. He was a king who came to be a servant. He offered himself, he met people's needs before he ever offered his opinion. As he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, he was met with scores of people who expected him to save them from Caesar, instead of saving them from their sin. He wept over the city, knowing that he would soon be viewing them from the tree that he had been nailed to, beckoning them to come and take up their own crosses as well.

Recently, I read a friend's Facebook post about an aunt who recently passed away from cancer. She wanted the comfort that her aunt was in heaven, as she did know the Lord, but her aunt was a lesbian, and because of this, my friend was unsure. My friend was met with people quoting scripture about how the unrighteous will never inherit the kingdom of God.  My fiance and I are currently looking for a church for our wedding that is geographically favorable for both of our families, who live four hours apart. As we have contacted pastors, many of them have told us point blank that they only allow members of their church to get married there. One even said that "they can't let just anyone in their church."

Nine out of ten young people walk away from their faith in college. It is a staggering statistic, one that I have heard many times in my four years at a Christian college. I finally understand why the number is so high. Why would anyone want to become part of this?

So to you, me, and everyone we know, I am so sorry. I'm sorry for the lies I have believed that have made me less of a person. There have been too many to count, and they sneak into my soul looking for what they may destroy. They never deliver on their promises. They have planted fear in my heart that only Christ has the power to uproot. Lies about my body, lies about the world and love and sex and how to reach the top. Lies about how close I should get to you. I believed them all. I swear I didn't want to, but I drank the poison because it brought the numbness. The poison was easy.

I'm sorry for repeating these lies to you. Perhaps not in words, but in ever more powerful actions.

I am sorry for treating your dreams and hopes and fears and troubles as if they are somehow less than my own. I'm sorry for my graceless inability to rejoice when you rejoice and mourn when you mourn. I'm sorry for my lack of humility, and what things I have said out of my own unstable understanding. I attempted to offer silver and gold, but had none but cheap counterfeits. Lies about holiness and grace and standards, and how close you can get to me.

My friend Andy once told me that everyday is an opportunity to react well to the gospel. If sin is not responding well, not believing the truth, then living according to these lies would certainly more than qualify.

The outrageous thing about grace is that it destroys our economy. I want my walls to be torn down.

I want a fire strong enough to burn down every bricked building, every pew and pulpit, until all that remains is the Church. We could be so much more.