Then it hit me like a pound of bricks.
I eyed his feet first. Big, nice Nike-shoed feet schackled in cuffs and linked to the sides of his metal wheeled chair. Rising up, I saw his strong wrists were similarly hand-cuffed and enslaved to the arm bars. Three broad-shouldered men in suits hovered over him in that tough-guy stance, you know the one with feet apart and hands clasped. He couldn't have been 20.
(So I promise I'd gotten to this point without any involved parties noticing my investigative skills. Curiosity may be the death of me, but I'm sneaky. Psshh--I'm a trained dancer and journalist: becoming concious of my surroundings is innate at this point.)
So there I sat. Next to a guy that had a blinking light over his head that said "Everyone, please stare at me. I did something so awful, your government doesn't even trust me to walk." I just had to look at him. Had to. So I glanced over and one moment later, the saddest, biggest pair of brown eyes looked into my own. My. Heart. Shattered.
There's no way I can ever put into words what his brown eyes said during the span we held each others eyes. I don't even know how long it was, or if I was breathing. I've just never seen hurt like that. His eyes bore into me: he was scared, alone, marred, shunned, stripped of dignity, and labeled a murderous monster by any travelers who dared to look at the spectacle. It was as if he was silently pleading my forgiveness. Anyone's forgiveness.
It's been 5 days and my mind won't let go.
Because we're all like that. We've all screwed up and somehow in our infantile, earthly minds his sin is "worse" than our sin. How DARE we call ourselves better than this man. How DARE we raise eyebrows and smugly go about life. I know I have an issue hating sin, it's something God is teaching me lately. I'm just more easily fascinated with Love and Grace and am an eternal optimist. I see and expect good in everyone. Trust me, it's an issue. I get hurt a lot this way. But I'm working on it.
But I saw myself in that man's--murder or whatever he was--eyes, like it was a mirror or something. We couldn't have looked more phsyically different. But at some point our differences stopped and we were one in the same. I'm just as filthy, shackled, and damaged. Maybe not in society's view, but in light of the Gospel, I am just like him. No better. Enslaved to that life, actually.
But then a Greater Love rescues me from those restraining chains.
And somehow, weirdly, becoming a servant to that Love morphs into freedom.
Which still bewilders me. I don't get it, God. At all. But I'm so, SO thankful.
"I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned /
in awe of the One who gave it all."
- Hillsong United
Welp, looks like I'm still optimistically fascinated with the word "grace" after all. Now if only I could adopt a bit more of a realist streak...or even just look at the road when I drive and not the clouds and trees. Oh well.