She opens a spiral notebook and shows me a cross she drew. I saw her pain on the page. Not like she fell apart or anything. No one would ever know. I’ve known her for a long time, but I’ve not really known her.
It’s just that when one has been hurt so deeply for so long, sometimes we wonder if the pain will ever go away. Oh, the burdens we carry when all Christ wants is for us to hand him our bags!
But we drag them behind us heavy, too long.
We bury them within us, too deep.
We hold them high in our heads, their poison dripping steadily down into our hearts.
Unless we do something.
So she showed me what she does. She seeks her Savior, right there on cross she drew in a simple spiral notebook.
She writes truth in and around that cross. God’s truth.
She writes what God says about her, pulled from Scripture, not what she has heard for so long from certain others who have wanted to paint her in their own image, not God’s. She reminds herself of who she is in Christ.
Her drawing and writings help. But she needs something else.
Yes, something else we all need. The cross goes two directions. One beam reconnects us with God. The other reconnects us with people, all of us created in God’s image, all of us loved more than we can fathom.
I looked her in the eyes and wanted to embrace her right then and there because you know when you see sincerity. You know when someone you hardly know has invited you into their sacred soul space. So I stood there beside her and prayed silently, placing my hand on her shoulder as she talked. I prayed for God to help us both. I prayed for His words and for His healing touch for us both.
When you enter another’s holy-of-holies at their invitation, both become healed as long as both remain humble. Holy places are not competitive spaces where one looks better than, holier than, more mature than another.
We’re all broken people in need. God heals through humility and the confession of our needs.
We’re all on equal ground when we’re on holy ground.
And we’re only on holy ground as humans together when we’re equally humble—knowing our position before God our Maker.
We are in no position to offer anyone anything without first receiving. We are all empty souls in need of becoming open receptacles of God’s grace. I feel it. I know it. It’s a dangerous place to be, feeling this empty hollow, unless one knows God and trusts Him to fill. We were made with this hole that only God can fill. Perhaps that’s why He leaves us with longing. We try to fill ourselves with so much but we’re buckets of holes, not holy buckets. We leak out all we pour in by ourselves. Only God seals us with Himself. He closes our holes with his holiness—with Jesus the Savior and Filler of every—single—hole—that causes us to leak out empty.
She came to me and opened her spiral notebook. She showed me her cross. And what, I prayed, did she want and need from me?
She wanted and needed from me to know she’s not alone—that she’s not a lone pilgrim walking this often hard path of faith where flesh fights with spirit and we sometimes think and feel we’re losing the battle.
No one goes to war alone.
All need company.
And so I read her words written in and around the cross—affirmations—truths about God and herself, straight from His word. Such is the healing balm we apply to hurting heart. Such is the sword with which we fight our inner wars.
She told me a bit of her past and why she struggles. Eyes welled. Hers and mine. Sometimes I just want to scream because of the pain we humans all inflict on one another. And yet, she and I, we both know that only the hurting hurt. Only those who have been hurt hurt others. So to stop the cycle, we must love and forgive and set souls free to receive their own healing. We set souls free by praying God’s mercy and grace upon them instead of harboring viciousness and wishing the worst.
God’s kingdom isn’t about revenge and hate. God’s kingdom is about forgiveness and love. And then, sometimes, when the hurting keep hurting, it’s ok to leave them in God’s hands and remain at a safe distance, always praying, always hoping for healing, for reconciliation.
We both held her spiral notebook. With the cross of Christ before us, we confessed our “sins” to one another—our shortcomings that keep us hidden in shame. We both shed some fig leaves that day, daring to be real which means daring to be fully human, admitting we are not God.
And I dare say we both walked away a bit more healed—just by daring to be real and daring to come together before our holy God, admitting how much we need Him—and each other.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1