A few weeks ago someone close to me said something that really made me angry. It made me angry because it was such an awkward comment laced with self-pity that it made everyone who heard it terribly uncomfortable. Me included. It was the kind of comment that is so socially inappropriate and bitter that it catches you off guard and takes you a few minutes to realize that it was actually spoken out loud.
After the words settled down on everyone I found myself thinking, 'Wow, with one comment you just completely sucked the joy out of the air and made a lot of good people feel like crap. How selfish. Thanks a lot.'
I was frustrated and I couldn't stop replaying the comment in my mind. Do you ever do that?
I decided I wanted to talk to the person. To tell them I loved them- BUT- and we all know the "but" negates any "I love you's."
But you make people feel bad when you say those kinds of things. You sorta suck the air outta balloons and have the ability to stop super fast Amtrak's and take all the fizz out of the champagne just by opening your mouth. That kind of thing.
Confrontation is not my favorite thing to do in the world.
But they needed to know, right? I needed to tell them, right? It was my responsibility to settle this thing once and for all, right?
This time I couldn't let the comment go- it was just the icing on a twelve layer cake full of other comments.
At the same time, I couldn't bring myself to have the conversation either.
I prayed for clarity.
And that night I had a dream.
I had a dream
It was night time and I just got through with a show. Afterwords Ryan had a car waiting for me backstage and quietly spoke much dreaded words into my ear, "Jen, something bad has happened, we need to go to the hospital sweetie."
I got in the car and someone drove, I'm sure they did, I just don't remember who. With tears streaming down my face, I watched the moon the entire drive. I felt numb. I felt fear crawl all over me. This can't be happening. Please God, don't let this be happening. Where are you? Where are you Lord?
I got to the hospital and Ryan sent me in alone. There was no one in the hospital. The rooms were all dark and empty. It felt like it existed just for me. It was warm. It felt like an orphanage during the winter. Too hot for the babies' good, but it was the only option, uncomfortably warm or no warmth at all. The hallway was dimly lit, as if there were a roaring fire behind the next corner and the only light came from the lamp in the room at the end of the hall. And it was so clean. I wonder why I remember that? The halls of the hospital were so clean.
There was one nurse, but she never talked or looked up, I'm pretty sure she was just a prop. She may not have been real. But there she sat, serenely in a corner as if she had no obligations, no sadness.
And then there was the room. The one room with light in the dimly lit hallway. I could hear the quiet click of the IV drip and the hum of the machines. I started to see the body through the window. Just the outline. Hooked up and mangled and so still. So quiet.
And those machines kept buzzing and humming, keeping their own account of time.
And as I got closer my heart raced and my stomach churned. My stomach churned and my knees felt weak. My knees felt weak and my soul was gasping for air.
Please don't make me go in this room.
And that's when he stepped out.
I didn't know his face but I knew him immediately. I knew it was him. I knew him. No question about it. He had been waiting for me. Reading a book into the silence of the room. I wish I knew what book he was reading her.
I don't much remember what he looked like. I just remember how he felt. He felt warm. Empathetic. And gracious. He felt kind and strong and gentle. He looked at me and caught me in my trembling with just the look of love in his eyes.
I wasn't ready for the moment. For the picture in front of me. I wasn't ready to say good-bye. I wasn't ready for that room.
He knew all of this. But he brought me there for a reason.
And in a way that only someone who deeply knows and loves you can do, he spoke to my arrogance and desire for justice.
In that room God spoke without really speaking.
He took my hand as I walked over the threshold. He held me while I trembled. And then, he looked deep into my eyes, "Welcome. I've been watching her for you. We've been waiting. Go ahead, I know there were some things you were wanting to talk to her about, right?"
My eyes fell on the person in the bed hooked up to all the machines.
I ran to the bed and fell over my friend, tears streaming down my face.
i'm so sorry, i'm sorry sweetie, i love you so much,
i love you so so much...
I woke up with tears running down my face.
My pillow a sponge for my shame.
And as I write this nearly a week later, the dream and the way it has haunted me, is still bringing me to tears of humility.
When will I learn that my desire for personal justice is so arrogant?
When will I learn what grace is all about?
When will I learn to love the way that my Jesus did?
How many dreams do I have to have before I surrender to grace?
How many times will God have to meet me in that hospital room to remind me what is important and what is not?
How many mornings do I have to wake up with the tears of my own shame before me?
Thank you God for perfect perspective.
Thank you God for your gentle and tough love, for growing us up, for growing me up.
Thank you God that I can relinquish justice into your hands and trust that you alone bring about a changed heart, that you alone deal justly in this world, that you alone convict souls...
but most importantly, in me.