I know people who have done horrible things. One time, a friend of mine walked through the door of my home, visibly shaken. She was in the middle of a crisis, one started by her own hand. She walked into my house carrying shame. Guilt. Condemnation, others and her own. I’m not sure I had ever seen someone look as emotionally exhausted as she did in those moments. I led her to my room and as we sat down, she fell into my lap, collapsing in sobs.
I had a choice in that moment. Push her away and remind her that she had done this to herself, or hold her while she cried. And that’s what I did. I whispered over and over, “It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay…” I knew it wouldn’t be okay that moment, or that day, or probably even anytime that month, but I knew it could be okay eventually.
And I have done horrible things. I have not lived a life worthy of what Jesus has done for me. I have hurt people, a lot. I have made poor choices, often. And, being divorced while being a Christian, I have learned what it feels like to be scandalous, to be disapproved of, to carry large amounts of shame. It’s a wearying journey to be disappointed in yourself for long periods of time, to know others are as well. I know this, because I lived with self-degradation as if it were the background music of my life during most moments of my difficult marriage (how can I say I love Jesus and not make this thing work?) and then when the divorce was happening, it were as if someone turned up the volume on my disgrace.
And then while at church, I heard my pastor quote a friend of his:
“When someone is caught in a scandal, I visualize two buckets that I can fill. I can add to the shame bucket or the second chance bucket.” –Mike Foster (founder of People of the Second Chance)
Yes, my heart said. Yes, please make me like this. I’ve been too hurt to offer someone else anything other than grace, anything other than a second chance. I’ve been too sinful to condemn someone else, to leave someone forever in the category of wrong.
I want to be this kind of person. I want to see the two buckets when I look at someone in pain or in sin and I only always want to fill up the bucket that says there’s still hope for you.
Jesus, may I live a life that exhibits a deep, deep belief that every bad thing can be turned into a good thing.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28-