I have some hellacious memories buried in my brain. I could tell you things to make your toes curl, stomach churn, and the blood drain out of your face. I could give you nightmares.
Most of my memories are pretty sweet over the 43 years I’ve been alive, but every once in awhile, seemingly out of nowhere, I remember what it’s like to be so broken and damaged on the inside that all you can do is spread poison. To feel so numb to the pain that you envision death as balm, and don’t really care if you get raped and bagged up in an alleyway dumpster because it can’t be any worse than what you’ve already gone through, and are going through. An old friend told a mutual friend I was “the darkest person he’d ever known in high school”. I agree.
Those are my invisible scars. The difference between then and now is that they used to hurt me. I don’t mean I felt like I stubbed my toe, I mean my heart’s been severed and I’m hemorrhaging out. Yet now I can tell you all about them (delicately, because I don’t really want to give you nightmares). Instead of slipping into despair when my mind brings me back, these excruciating memories cause me to pray gratefully.
Gratitude doesn’t always occur because something happy is happening. Sometimes gratitude flows out because you know the depths of anguish you’ve been delivered from.
I look back on those memories with the (gruesome and gracious) Cross blocking my view! It is standing directly between who I am and who I once was. Those memories are an ever present reminder of Grace and Redemption. Grace and Redemption are the filter embedded in my hippocampus, so I never remember those dark things without the sweetness of Jesus’ kindness towards me saturating the memory.
I was the least deserving person I know, and He has been most lavish towards me. I am a poster-child for grace!
I drove up Richland Ave. this morning, and was accosted with memories that used to feel like venom. Like blow darts from satan, reminding me of all I didn’t deserve, and how awful I have been. Instead, it made me want to pick up every broken shard of a human I see and tell them Jesus’ love is lavish, and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. Your scars can become like a pearl in an oyster shell. The thing that once caused you the most pain becoming the thing that makes you most lovely.
There’s a story in the Bible about a soul-battered prostitute (much like myself, once upon a time), who came into a Pharisee’s house with a vial of perfume and a glimmer of hope. Jesus told the Pharisee that her faith had made her well, and then He says something marvelous: “her sins which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47). He correlates the magnitude of our forgiven with our love. The thing is, you don’t have to sin as outlandishly as I have to be forgiven much. You just have to understand the gravity of your sin. But my sin was obvious, loud, soul-crushing, and broad. Therefore, that cross blocking the hindsight view of who I once was evokes a greater affection in me! I am a woman whose love for Jesus correlates with the magnitude of what she’s been forgiven, and I’ve been forgiven a lot.
And now, when I’m driving up the road, and suddenly have a violent memory, it makes me want to weep. Not because the memory stings, but because the sweetness of my deliverance makes my soul sing! Because it makes me fall in-love with Jesus all over again, for saving me anyway… Even though I was the scum on the bottom of the barstool, He made me His pearl!