I walked into the boardroom with the pure gumption that comes from being an idealistic, college girl.
I was so stinking fresh and shiny and new.
With my click clack heels, smoothy binder and designer coffee.
Full-on JAZZED about what was to come:
The first focus group EVER on how to combat AIDS and promote awareness on my little conservative Christian college campus.
I’ll admit, my head couldn’t wait to jump in with my stats and research and plans. My hands were itching to get something done. And my heart just wanted to scream a whole heap full of Jesus all over the place.
I knew there would be resistance. I knew it would be a fight. I knew it would shatter a little of my shiny.
But I thought, at the very least, such a panel would focus on loving those fighting the disease here, there and everywhere.
So it is no surprise that I snorted coffee out my nose the minute a man in a suit said this or something like it, “I feel that we have adequately addressed the subject of AIDS awareness in that we provide plastic gloves for all who go on global missions trips.”
Snort. Sniff. Snort.
Certainly, he was making a joke.
Or wait, snort and bless it…
He. Was. Not.
I fought. I presented. I shared.
But I knew the moment I walked back out of that room in my click clack heels, my fresh, shiny and new self hadn’t been enough.
I was naïvely innocent but I was not ignorant.
Yeah, I’d grown up in the Steve-Green-listening, Sandi-Patti-singing-until-she-got-a-divorce-but-then-we-got-over-it, skirt-wearing 80’s era of Christianity.
But I’d also grown up in a home where there were no untouchable.
I had grown up in a place where Jesus broke through that mess 2000 years ago.
I had grown up in a shelter that dripped the truth that Jesus gives us no spirit of fear when it comes to loving those HE LOVES.
You were a dude who thought he was Michael the Archangel?
Come to our house.
You didn’t have a place to go for ANY holiday?
Come to our house.
You were purple, blue, agnostic, atheist, whatever?
Come to our house.
My parents lived that constantly.
So to hear that the answer to AIDS awareness was plastic gloves for ourselves?
That shattered my ever loving heart.
Not solely because it was ignorant. But more because the people on the other side of that door were missing so much of Jesus it hurt.
Had we really become so focused on our intellectual spiritual endeavors that we had forgotten the guy who came to love the broken and the hurting and the messed-up and the rough-edged?
Even those who try to dress it up in suits and shiny and plastic gloves?
Had we become so obsessed with our self-protection, that we would leave an ugly disease void of hands drenched in grace and love and mercy?
Had they? Had we? Had I?
Now here I sit, nearly twenty years later in my tennis shoes, worn-out pajama pants and holding coffee that came from a can.
I am a tired, old mom who struggles to remember her name. And plans?!? PUH—LEEEZE.
Those went out the door at least three years ago.
I am so stinking…uh…no, I just stink.
Gone is my shiny and new and whatever else I was.
And yet, here I sit, wrestling with the same moment.
Am I more about my protection than His compassion?
Am I more about staying in control than being what He asks of me?
Am I more about me than about why I am here?
In many ways, I feel as though I am still in that hallway outside the boardroom, broken and tears flowing, trying to get it right.
As a mom.
As a wife.
As a friend.
As a human being.
But friends, I think that is the point.
We were meant to feel torn and tugged at and unsettled.
To yearn for the broken.
To fight for the fatherless.
And to put our own protection yards behind it all.
So today, Jesus, I am saying thank you for this hallway, this sacred in-between, push-and-pull of compassion.
This precious place where it doesn’t matter whether you are Michael the Archangel, sinner or saint, purple or blue, atheist or whatever.
Thank you for the tears that flow freely here.
Thank you for the hands that are opened and the hearts ever-changed.
Thank you for the brave and the beautiful you meet in its length.
But most of all, thanks for breaking through that whole sterile, plastic mess 2000 years ago.
Where you took a world broken and messed-up and rough-edged and turned it into touchable.