Dark is the night for the one with no hope.
The one thing that keeps us moving forward is hope. Hope is our ‘something better.’ Hope says we’re going to be okay when nothing is okay.
Four years ago I had an affair. I severed two marriages and broke two families. I separated four little girls from their daddies and made the hearts of two fathers bleed. I made the people who believed in me wish they hadn’t. I made the people who looked up to me doubt. I made my mother cry and put pain in my father’s eyes. I betrayed a friend who trusted me without hesitation. I contributed to six people becoming adulterers.
I was that woman. I did that. And I hated myself for it.
My friends, who used to call me loyal, called me deceived.
I thought I loved God with all of my heart. I did love him, but my sin taught me that I loved myself more.
The weight of my sin crushed the air from my lungs and I didn’t feel I had the right to gasp for breath.
I fell suddenly. One person one day and a fallen child of God six weeks later. I’ve heard that the head can remain alive and alert for up to eight seconds after it’s been severed from the body. Maybe it’s because the first stage of mourning is denial. In my eight seconds of denial, I reached out to my Christian friends and they shrieked in fear. What a sight I must have been. I don’t blame them. They’ve never been so close to such violence.
What would you do if a body walked out of a burning building while it was still on fire and his flesh was melting as he walked toward you? In spite of your intentions and Sunday School scriptures, you would do exactly as they did, exactly as I would have done. You would run.
As I lay on the battle ground and waited for death to deliver his justice, I had the opportunity to sever my relationship with myself. I hated what I did and it was an easy dissent for me. I divorced me. All of my good qualities turned sour in the sun. I wasn’t so charming. I wasn’t so funny. Good mothers don’t hurt their children’s father. Good friends don’t sleep with your husband. I writhed in my own skin. I wanted to crawl out and leave her to die.
She became dead to me. There is a girl inside this body who does not belong to this body. If you look in my eyes you will see me. You will see a child of God screaming to get out of the corrupt and condemned building that holds her.
When I lost my life I went through a period of mourning. The loss of ‘self’ is excruciating. I missed me. My gosh, the tears I cried cannot be measured. But, I can’t have me and have Him, too. I realized that and I preferred Him. I wanted Him.
I lifted my head to make the noose slip on easier.
I give my imagination liberty when I say that maybe Jesus walks up to those on the gallows of public and personal justice and looks them in the eyes. Maybe this body has taken on the gaunt shape of death, but he’s not looking on the outside. Maybe he knows the outside man betrays the inside man. If that’s true, then who can save the inside man when the outside man is hell bent?
In my imagination Jesus looked me in the eyes and saw his little girl in there. When he saw me, he smiled. ‘I haven’t lost you,’ he said.
‘You haven’t?’ …I was crying. His kindness was too much to bear. Did he not know what I did? His love was too intense, I couldn’t stand. I didn’t want to tell him. I didn’t want him to take his love from me. I couldn’t bear it. My heart burned and I clung to the last few seconds of his love before he took it away.
‘Oh, Serena,’ his eyes searched me, ‘do you think I didn’t know this was going to happen?” He put his hand to my face and steadied my heart with his voice. ‘Of course I knew this was going to happen…. That’s why I came.’
The tears that come from grace reach so much deeper than the tears of mourning. The tears of mourning wrack the body and splinter the bones, but the tears of grace gather up all of you and hold you together in one long offering of everything broken and lost.
When Jesus and I take walks, we still have the body of the old girl with us. She still forgets to move her feet when I try to dance and sometimes I fall down. She’s much slower than I and her will still thinks it has a say. As long as she’s still here, I will continue to fall, but not to my inner detriment. I never tried to revive her and for that, she is forever mostly dead.
With the old girl significantly slower, the inner me-the real me, is significantly stronger. One day I’ll be free of this sluggish, selfish body, and when that day comes, I’ll be able to dance for real.