Many years ago, I called my cousin to check in on her and see how she was doing. Just a couple weeks prior, she’d lost her mom (and, my aunt). What was intended to be a call of care and concern quickly backfired on me. You see, grief has several stages. Anger is one of them. And, I just so happened to call while she was in that stage. As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished, and punished I was on that call. She let me have it. I tearfully hung up the phone and tried for the weeks, months and years that followed to not take it personally. I knew she was grieving, and I probably did help her. In the end, it hurt me.
I’ve always loved words. My mom often tells me how I would use big words, as a kiddo, completely out of context. I feel confident I still do the same thing from time to time. Yet, still I love words. They’re powerful. I see this now more than ever. They can harm or heal, divide of unite. And, as the old saying goes, “once you’ve allowed a word to escape, it cannot be recalled.” Words, especially the ugly ones, really stick with us.
I didn’t see my cousin again until my uncle’s funeral. As I sat down on the pew, my cousin, who I hadn’t spoken to since that last phone call, filed in beside me. And, as soon as her little rump hit the seat, her arm stretched out across my back and wrapped around my shoulder. She put her face as close as she could to mine and looked me directly in the eyes while saying, “I’m sorry, Jill-o.” And, just like that, I forgave her.
I’ve offered up a few apologies in my life, and I’ve also had a few heartfelt apologies extended to me. Recognizing you’re wrong is one thing, but humbling yourself enough to stand before a person you’ve hurt and extend a genuine apology is another. I respected that my cousin did that. She asked for forgiveness, and I gave it without one single thought. We’ve been as close as two could be since then.
Romans 5:9 says, “But God demonstrates his love for us in this. While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse is central to the Christian faith. I’ve read it. I’ve memorized it. And, yet, it’s still so hard for me to wrap my head around. I’m most reminded of this when I find myself missing the mark, feeling disappointed in something I said or did. I’ll think about it, talk about it, pray about it, repeat. It’s sometimes an incessant cycle of personal shame that I find so challenging to get out of. Christ knew that then, and he knows that now. Because of the price he paid on the cross, those who believe in him live life debt free. That means, he carries our burdens so that we don’t have to.
Friends of JL PARISH, life is too short and far too precious to live it burdened. Though we may not feel worthy of the overwhelming grace Christ has given us, it is very much for the taking. We just have to believe. Nothing fancy, just “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and died on the cross to take away my sin.” If you’ve never walked in that grace, I hope you’ll take your first freedom filled step. Or, if you’re like me, faith filled but need to hit the refresh button on grace because somewhere along the way you thought it maybe didn’t apply to you anymore- just hit the reset button. No matter how big our sin is or was, the payment for it was already made on the cross in full- no exceptions.
But, isn’t God exceptional. I have to pray. Will you pray with me?
God of every living being, I lift up the person reading this right now. May they seek you in all they do, fully knowing your character and your sacrifice for our sin upon the cross. Though we will never be perfect this side of heaven, we know we are made perfect in you. Let us celebrate this in our lives, bringing glory to your name.
We also lift up the sick, weary, lonely, depressed, deprived and marginalized. God, let us be a force or good and not evil. Let us help and not hinder. Let us shine brightest in your eternal light.
In your precious name we pray- Amen.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. A portion of the proceeds from every Sparrow Project purchase will benefit Women Called Moses and their care to victims of domestic violence. For more information on the Sparrow Project, visit jlparish.com.