Some days I wish we had the ability to see others in terms of their story rather than in terms of how that story has affected us personally. Although there are moments where two people have their stories meet and beauty is reflected as their chapters intertwine, there are also moments where a person's story so deeply impacts another's that there is an abrupt stop...pages ripped out and thrown to the floor, and ultimately all that can be seen are the moments where the stories met causing pain, rejection, and wounds that have left a deep scar.
Once a wound has been inflicted, once another's story personally impacts ours in such a negative way, it becomes impossible to see their story objectively, and often compassion, grace, and understanding are just simply great ideas, rather than something we are capable of extending into the story of another, as new chapters emerge, chapters labeled THE DAY I BECAME A VICTIM, chapters labeled SELFISHNESS, and THE STORY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY PAIN.
For instance, I met a woman once who it didn't take me too long to fall in love with. Sure, she was rough around the edges, spent time in and out of rehab, and cheap whiskey often tainted her breath, but as I sat down over coffee and listened to her story, I saw a life impacted from a young age, a life set up for failure, addiction, heartache, pain, and ultimately wounds so deep they would leave her spending the majority of her life attempting to chase them away by numbing herself to the world around her. As she recounted her story for me, I fell in love with her chapter by chapter, there was no judgement, merely compassion, grace, mercy, and a deep sense of anger at those who wounded her so deeply. And as she shared the deep traumatic wounds, I found myself wanting to scream to God, "Where were you?!!" as she struggles to understand the same. My friend, my sister, longs to stop the cycle of addiction, but every time she is sober, the haunting memories come flooding back, and she would rather leave this life than have to feel them once again. Her story included children, and as she told me about each of them it brought joy to her eyes, that was quickly followed by deep sadness. Ultimately, her wounds, the pain inflicted upon her, and the addictions in her life, led her to the decision to abandon them. So, her children have a story too...one whose chapters read, MOM LEFT. I WAS ALONE. I WASN'T WORTH BREAKING THE ADDICTION. And that is where the mixing of their stories ended, and it is not for lack of effort on her part. Her children's scars are deep, valid, and just like her story, these wounds caused deep heartache. Consequences are real however, and my friend wonders if grace really can exist, if mercy really is new every day, and if she is worthy of compassion. All her children know is a mom who wounded them, but they don't know her in terms of the power of her life story. They cannot objectively zoom out and see the beauty that remains in the ashes, and they do not understand the stories that impacted hers so long ago, the stories that caused her soul agony, just as hers caused them...
As I drove home from my last encounter with this beautiful friend of mine, I was torn in two, for when her story met mine, there was beauty, compassion, and grace...yet, I hurt for her children, both for the agony caused in their stories, but also at the thought that they cannot see the story as I see it. This got me thinking of stories that have impacted mine in similar ways, and how I have not been able to objectively see others in terms of their story, but ultimately, could only see them in terms of their impact on me.
Some days I wish we had the ability to see others in terms of their story rather than in terms of how that story has affected us personally. This would be an incredible gift in many moments..a gift that would help us tap into grace, mercy, and compassion, the same that has been extended to us from our Heavenly Father.
This is my prayer, will you pray this with me today?
Lord Jesus, you see each person, every moment, of every day, and your capacity for grace, compassion, and mercy are limitless, without borders, and not dependent on how we impact you. God, I long to have that kind of capacity to love and extend the same to others, selflessly, considering others as better than myself, considering them as your beloved child, worth dying for. My fear is that if I extend this kind of grace, it stamps my approval on the way their story wrote pain into mine. I fear it gives them permission to continue inflicting wounds...yet, I am reminded how often I fall short, how I continue to battle with sin in my own heart, and how patient you are...always eager to give me another gift of grace. Teach me to be like you Father, for on my own, I am incapable of loving another with your mercy, your grace, your compassion. But with you, I can do all things, and that includes loving those whose stories caused me deep wounding. Thank you Father that when I pray you bend down to listen. I love you Lord. AMEN.