As I sat in a coffee shop the day before yesterday and watched people walk in and sit down, alone or in groups of two or three, I knew I was forming subconscious opinions of them. She thinks she’s too good for anyone else. He’s lonely. She’s unhappy. They might have been accurate observations, they might not have been, but as I sat there I realized that everyone who walked in was also forming a subconscious opinion of me. I wondered what they thought. I had a laptop and a stack of books; maybe they thought I was a college student. Maybe they saw the pink hair and flowered headphones and thought I was part of some weird little clique somewhere. Maybe they wanted to talk to me, but didn’t. Unspoken connections were made, thoughts were had, and lives moved on. I spoke to one girl before she left, telling her she looked pretty, and she returned the compliment with a bright smile and a compliment for my flowered snapback and headphones. As she walked out, I wondered more. What does she go through? What battles is she fighting? Who has broken her heart? What makes her happy?
I’m so easy to give grace to others, to forgive them for their flaws and to understand that they are not their mistakes. I tell people these things on a daily basis – I tell them what I know, that God has already forgiven them, that they need to move on, that I’m here for them.
When I tell people I don’t care what they’ve done, I truly mean it. I love them no matter what they’ve done. I want to love them in spite of it. I want to help them. I have love to give.
And yet, I don’t tell myself these things. I look at the horrible things I’ve done – things that disgust and shame me, things I wish so much I could take back, and I dwell on them. I roll around in the mud of past sins instead of allowing God to wash me clean. I am blinded, refusing to see myself as another human being, as another soul, so important in God’s eyes. Someone said that it’s harder to forgive those we know the best, and who do we know better than ourselves? We know every thought, every action we’ve taken that we wish we could take back. Someone might look us in the eyes and tell us how loved we are, but in our minds, we say You don’t know. You don’t know what I’ve done, and if you knew, you couldn’t understand, you couldn’t forgive me.
Just a few days ago, I was telling a very special girl I know that we need to forgive ourselves the same way we urge others to forgive, and it struck a chord I me, because I was being a hypocrite. I was encouraging her to do something I had failed to do, so many times. What right did I have, to tell her these things? To give her great advice that I can’t seem to follow?
I’m good at hiding how I truly feel. I laugh deeply and cry at the drop of a hat (seriously, I cried yesterday because a picture of castle ruins was so beautiful. I kid you not) but when it comes to how I feel about things, when it comes to sharing my burdens or concerns, I fall silent. I cover it up and say I’m fine. I say what people want to hear. I don’t do it for myself – I do it for others, because they don’t need to carry the weight of my mistakes as well as their own. And yet I wouldn’t have to carry my burdens at all if I would hand them over to God. If I would just do what He asks.
It doesn’t matter how many beautiful things I draw or how many novels I write – God doesn’t want those as much as He wants my flaws, my burdens and brokenness. There is a Japanese technique for fixing broken pottery called kintsugi or kintsukuroi. When something cracks, they mend it with gold. That’s what God does to us. He takes our imperfections and not only mends them – He turns them into something beautiful. We’re all broken, but not until we give our shattered pieces to God can He put us back together.
We give Him brokenness, and He gives us gold. And when we crack again, He keeps on giving. I need this reminder as much as anyone else – sometimes, I feel, maybe even more. He makes all things new. We just need to let Him.