Where Do You Draw the Line?

“Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

-John 8:2-11

Very recently, I went through what I can call the worst experience of my life, so far. Someone broke my heart, and through it all, I kept thinking about the story about the adulterous woman in the Bible (John 8:2-11).  

Growing up, I often heard this story in reference to not judging others for their mistakes.  I was told we should put ourselves in place of the Pharisees so that we could realize Jesus tells us we should not judge anyone for the sins they commit because we are all sinners.

As I got older, I started seeing the story from a different perspective. If I was a sinner, didn’t I also need to be looked upon with kindness, didn’t I also need to be forgiven? My relationship with Jesus was strengthened with this story because it reminded me Jesus was on my side. He always wants the best for me and is willing to be there for me when no one else is.

The message seemed simple enough to understand: we are all sinners who will, at one time or another, need to be forgiven; so we should not look down on anyone because Jesus loves us all equally. However, through this very recent experience, I came to realize that when we only put ourselves in place of the Pharisees or of the woman, we miss a very important part of the story.

A few nights ago, I kept thinking about the choices I would have to make because of what had occurred. Would it be best for me if I kept things as they were or if I changed things? Could I forgive and reconcile, or should I just forgive and leave? When do you say you’ve had enough? Where do you draw the line?

At that moment, this story popped into my mind again. I kept thinking about Jesus, and his role in everything. Was it really just that easy to tell the woman that she was forgiven and that everything would be okay? I kept wondering how he did it.

The story says that Jesus was writing in the sand. We are not told what exactly he was writing, but, in my mind, I kept imagining Jesus writing words and then drawing a line in the sand.

I kept seeing Jesus calmly writing in the sand, and when he finished, I saw him draw a line, almost as if he were saying, “This is where you draw the line.”

My heart was broken this weekend, and instead of forgiving and turning my back on everything, I decided to forgive and stay. I wondered what others would think of my choices and of me. I was scared and I felt overwhelmed; but then, I thought of what Jesus told the woman, and I knew I did exactly what Jesus wanted of me.

I had always thought that drawing the line meant that you had to draw it between you and someone else. It meant breaking ties and bonds so that you would no longer be able to be hurt by them. Jesus taught me otherwise.

He saw the woman and knew her sin, and still chose to remain by her side. He chose to draw the line, not between himself and the woman, but between the woman and the world. He stayed by her side and fought for her so that she would know forgiveness. He showed her what it meant to be loved.  

I know the road ahead will not be easy, but now that I know where to draw the line. I know that at least I’ll end up where God wants me.

 

Originally written and posted February 28, 2012

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Love and Heartbreak

God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” 

                                                                                                        –Genesis 1:27                                                                      


The final project for my gender psychology class is to write an autobiography about how I came to be the gendered person I am today. Out of all the thoughts that have come to me in preparation for this assignment, the best answer I can think of is that I am a woman because that is who God made me. This answer seems so simple, but the more I think about it, the more complex I find it to be…


Last Wednesday, I had the chance to share some time with two of my friends. We were just sitting in a car at the church parking lot listening to BarlowGirl and talking. It’s almost strange to think that three young women with such different life experiences and different ways of looking at the world can come together and have so much in common. We shared a lot that night: our dreams, our hopes, our mistakes, and our heartbreaks. In some ways, our dreams and hopes are our mistakes and heartbreaks. We keep waiting on the right time, the right person, the right something, just hoping that God will make all of our waiting worthwhile… hoping that He will somehow give us proof that our waiting hasn’t been in vain.


With everything we talked about that night, there was really nothing specific that stood out about our conversation, but what we shared has stayed with me because it reminds me of just how much of a woman I truly am.


I used to think that in order to be the best woman I could be, I had to wait and be patient and allow God to keep my heart from ever being broken or torn apart. The more I think about it though, the more I realize that if I want to be the best woman I can be; I have to do the exact opposite. I have to give my heart to God and allow Him to do as He chooses to do with it, even if that means being heartbroken.


God calls me to love beyond reason. This isn’t always easy in the world we live in. There are times when I find myself wanting to run from anything that could potentially cause me pain. I want to stop taking risks and stop putting my heart on the line, but that isn’t who God created me to be.


In Mary, I find such a great example of who God calls me to be. Mary loved Jesus more than any one of us could ever imagine, and she gave her life entirely to Him without question. Mary knew she would eventually have to give Jesus up, but that didn’t stop her from loving him. She knew what Jesus would have to endure, and instead of running from the pain, she embraced it. Mary stayed with Jesus every step of the way. She walked with him even though her heart broke more with every step and with every drop of blood that her son shed. Mary loved and at the same time accepted her heart break.


As a woman, God calls me to do the same…to love with all I have and to accept the times when my heart must be broken.


I can live with heartbreak, but not the kind of heartbreak caused by someone who treated me without any respect or dignity. The kind of heartbreak I can live with is the kind caused by having to change my dreams to fit God’s plan instead of my own plan, the kind of heartbreak caused by having to let go of the guy I care for because his feelings for me changed, the kind of heartbreak caused by finding out my grandmother has cancer and there is nothing that can be done to make her better…that’s the kind of heartbreak I can live with…that’s the kind of heartbreak God calls me to live with.


In my life I have loved more than I ever thought I could, I have forgiven beyond the limits I placed for myself, and I have lived through more heartbreak than I thought I would ever know. I am a woman because I love. I am a woman because I forgive. I am a woman because I don’t run from heartbreak; and I will try my hardest not to run from love, instead, I will wait for God to bring me to a greater understanding of love.


I am a woman because that is who God made me. I was created with incomparable beauty. God made me to love and to feel. My strength lies not in the physical, but in the emotional. God made me a woman, so that I could allow myself to be led and so that I could allow myself to wait on Him.



“I won’t run when it looks like love, I won’t hide beneath the fear of how my past has come undone” 

                                                                     -Looks Like Love by NEEDTOBREATHE

 

Originally Written and Posted: November 20, 2010 at 10:38pm

Jigsaw Puzzles

Silence. Sometimes, it’s a peaceful escape; and other times, it’s a terrifying void.


For someone like me, who analyses every aspect of life in the most abstract of ways, silence is a rarity.


My mind is often occupied with so many thoughts and possibilities that I don’t always stop to think before I speak or act. Silence is a good way of allowing me to organize all of the craziness going on in my mind. It’s a way of allowing God’s will to rule my thoughts instead of my own will.


Last week, I was given the opportunity to spend an evening in silence. I was very glad to have this opportunity because I had spent most of the month living minute by minute with my job and school. I needed a break from all of the noise of my everyday life.


During this evening of silence, God spoke to me in a very meaningful way:


I was sitting in the church staring down at the book in my hands. The cover on my book was a jigsaw puzzle.


Now, I know that putting together a jigsaw puzzle is not the most exciting of pastimes; and it can become quite tedious to put a puzzle together, especially if you lack patience. However, as I stared down at the cover on my little book, my life seemed to make more sense than before.


When you build a jigsaw puzzle, you put all of the pieces on a large table, you sort them out, and you study the box to see what you are making. Life can be very similar to this experience. God gives us the pieces to our puzzle and tells us to put them together. The only difference is that He doesn’t give us the box, so we have no idea what the end result is going to be.


I like to be in control of my life, so not knowing what the puzzle is going to look like is a big problem for me. I constantly have to humble myself and let God lead me in order to not let the frustration of the unknown take over.


As the evening continued, I kept thinking about my life’s puzzle. I realized that I was at a point in my life where I was trying to fit a piece where it did not belong. I’m sure that most of you have experienced that point in puzzle building where you have a piece that just doesn’t fit where you want it to…but you try to jam it into place anyway.


My stubbornness often gets the best of me, so I was determined to make the piece of my puzzle fit where I wanted it to fit. I spent a very long time trying to fit that piece into a certain place without any success. I kept hearing that I had to let go and move on…but I’m the kind of person who has a hard time letting go.


I was still thinking about that piece that just wouldn’t fit, as I was getting ready for bed. In those moments before sleep came, God finally made everything clear…


That puzzle piece doesn’t fit where I want it to fit, but that doesn’t mean I have to let go of it. God put that piece in my puzzle, so it fits into my life somehow. I just have to set that piece aside for now so that I can focus on building the other parts of my puzzle. When God is ready for me to know where that piece fits, He’ll let me know.

“You can force the piece to fit, but the puzzle is not the same.” -Echo off the Sky by Poema

 

Originally Written and Posted: November 2, 2010 at 1:13pm

A Child Forgiven

“I was in the shadows

for so long.

Waiting.

to be found,

to be invited

into the light.

Being patient,

obedient.

I was in the shadows

for so long

that I lost myself

and forgot to wait.

forgot to listen.”


Yesterday, when I went to confession, Father told me that I was loved…that God loves me. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear those words until I heard them. Somewhere along the way, I had lost that truth, and I spent so long searching for something that could make me feel God’s love again. Those words were a much needed reminder of my worth.


Sometimes, it’s easy to get so caught up in the world that you lose yourself and forget to be loved. You get mixed up in the chaos of life and stop listening to God’s messages.


This week, I was able to block out the world and just listen.


I met a little 6-year-old boy who told me that I was pretty. In all honesty, his comment took me by surprise because men my age are all too often passive and insincere. However, his comment was made with the most innocent of intentions. He was only admiring the beauty he saw in his world.


At first sight, this little boy seems like a normal, happy child; but his life is far from normal. He’s been abandoned by a mother he’s never met and by a father who is too busy to take care of him. He has so many questions that may never be answered, and he’s angry. In truth, he has a right to be angry; but instead of letting his anger rule his life, he sees someone like me and smiles. He looks at the world and sees the good in his life. It’s no wonder Jesus told us to be like children.


Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 18:1-4


Many of us can probably relate to this little boy’s pain. We have had many unanswered questions about life. We have felt abandoned by our Father, and we have felt angry because there’s nothing we can control or change in this life.


If only we could just as easily relate to a child’s view of love and beauty.


Children can look past the lies, hatred, and anger in this world and see truth. They can live in this world and not let the chaos blind them to the beauty that surrounds them. They can receive love and just as easily give love.


As an adult, I have found that it is sometimes difficult to hear God’s voice amidst the chaos of our everyday lives. So often we feel that God is not speaking to us and we gradually create more chaos as a way of drowning out His whisper in our heart. We start to believe lies that lead us astray from His plan for us. We trap ourselves in sinfulness, and we start to ignore the love and grace we were created to live with.


It becomes so easy to live with the lies: “I am worthless.” “God does not love me.” “Just this one time” “What I’m doing isn’t that bad.”, but deep in our heart, God’s whisper can be heard. We know it’s all lies, but believing them starts to give us false hope. We feel in control of our lives, when, in reality, the only thing we are doing is creating more chaos and damaging our spirit.


Eventually, we hold on to the lies because fear takes over. We hold on to the lies because our other alternative is forgiveness, and being forgiven means that we can no longer ignore God’s love and grace. Letting go of the lies and being forgiven means that we owe it to ourselves to listen to God’s whisper…to love others…to have a childlike faith…and to love ourselves



“Mercy bend and breathe me back to life, but not before you show me how to die…” 

                                                                                              -Show Me by Audrey Assad

Originally Written and Posted: October 31, 2010 at 9:34pm