(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)
I woke up this morning remembering the absolute fear that I felt last year on this day when I woke up. It’s been an entire year since we were in downtown Fort Worth looking up at a huge jail, knowing that a guy named Rocky, who was genuinely family to us, was in there.
How? Why? What’s the purpose? Those are all questions that I still have and can’t answer entirely.
Late last night I was texting with a friend that has spent hours on her knees, alongside me and some other girls, praying for Rocky. Not only has she done that, but she’s stuck by me and supported me through this whole process. As we were texting about how crazy it is that a year has gone by, she said, “You know, honestly, I would have never been able to do what you did.”
This hit me. Some people may have read that text and patted themselves on the back. But I know that when I went in to the jail to visit Rocky, it wasn’t just me.
Truth is, I was hurt that Rocky had broken the trust that I had in him. I thought that he was a “good guy” and that he was different. That’s why I didn’t go in to visit until the third day we were there.
There’s only one way I know how to explain what made my mindset change, and that’s with some song lyrics. I recently heard a song called “Who Am I” by NEEDTOBREATH, and man does this song tear me up every time I listen to it. Here are some of the lyrics…
White lights and desperation
Hard times and conversation
No one should ever love me like you do
Sometimes my bad decisions
Define my false suspicions
No one should ever love me like you do
While I’m on this road you take my hand
Somehow you really love who I really am
I push you away, still you won’t let go
You grow your roses on my barren soul
Who am I, who am I, who am I
To be loved by you
At first, I didn’t want to go visit because I was hurt. But secondly, I didn’t want jail to change my mindset about who Rocky really was. I wanted my memory of him to be when we all said goodbye for the 400th time outside of his favorite pizza place.
I thought that loving who Rocky really was, was loving who he was when I hugged him outside the pizza shoppe. As I look back, I see that I was wrong. I found out as soon as I saw him through that rusty window, wearing a jumpsuit, that really loving who people are, is when you love them in the middle of their sin.
In the middle of the mess, and through the reflection in the glass.
You know, it’s really easy to love who you think somebody really is when there’s no hurt or sin mixed in. It’s easy to love when things are all good, and you know you can trust them.
Anyone who has decided to follow Jesus could have done what I did by going in to visit Rocky. When you experience Jesus loving you the way you really are, you can’t help but do anything else than love others the way they really are too.
And to love who they really are, is to love them in their sin. Just like Jesus did when He proved He was willing to die for us, while we were yet sinners, not knowing if we would ever love Him back.
I had to learn that what people do does not determine their worth. I had to stop my mind from tricking me into thinking that he was a “bad guy” just because I was talking to him through glass.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
My goal in life is to love who people really are, simply because that’s what Christ has done for me. What we have to remember is that not everyone will accept that love from us right away. It might take some time, and that’s ok. How long did Jesus wait for you?
There will be people who decide to close the window when you’ve come back to help them a thousand times over. But what they need to know is that we will be there when they decide to open the window again; simply because we love them.
We just have to be willing to wait and see their reflection in the glass when they come in desperation.
“I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= Do you personally believe that Jesus loves who you really are?
= Is it hard for you to love people in the middle of their mess and sin?
= What are you going to do differently?