I write these words trapped behind the wall of a screen that keeps us safe from each other, & that keeps us from healing each other.
I am sorry that this is a one-way conversation. I hate that you can see me, but I can’t see you. These are intimate things, not the stuff you discuss with perfect strangers…and the last thing you need is another sermon, or a monologue. I wish you could tell me all about it—about the girl or boy that broke your heart, or your catastrophic failure, or the doubt that has simmered just beneath the surface, for as long as you can remember. I’d love to hear all of your reasons, for breaking up with God.
I wish we could sit down for coffee—or a stiff drink, if that’s what such a conversation requires. It would be okay to show me your scars, safe to expose, your angst. It would be okay to tell me about the kid who was abused in the church you grew up in-maybe it was you? Or tell me about the place you lost your true love, or show me the picture of the one who died. You could speak your private doubt. You could let your disillusionment transform into words, like wine into water, and let them flow out of you, like the water that flowed from Jesus’ side on Golgotha. You could say it however you wanted, for as long as you wanted.
As the waitress pours us another glass, you could tell me all about the hurt. I promise, you’ll would no hint of judgment in these weary eyes. I’m sorry for all that is broken, and for all that broke you. I’m sorry your faith feels now like such a tired and tattered thing.
I know my heart would break, underneath the weight of all your pain. And my own faith might well have snapped, like a fragile twig, long before yours did. I promise, I would not laugh at you, or at any of the pain that terrorized you on the night road where you are now out walking. But if you did detect just a hint of laughter, in the crinkles around my eyes, or felt just a teeny bit of comedy, in the midst of such heavy talk—I’m not laughing at you, or at your story.
What does make me stifle a laugh, however, is the anarchic Love that walks the long night road with you, with or without your consent, the clandestine God hiding amidst your sorrow.
I don’t want to lecture you on why you ought to believe, or how you ought to change, nor come to God’s defense, like a low-rent lawyer. I won’t try to argue, that you cannot, or must not leave the house that feels too small for you, now.
Like the father to his prodigal son, you are given your inheritance early, and have permission to spend it however you think that you must. I’d not try to keep you from leaving Jerusalem, or the temple therein, nor the people that raised you. I wouldn’t ever try to keep you, from walking the long, dark road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
It’s not that I would not worry, about you walking any dark roads alone. It’s just that I know that no matter what road you take…you’ll never be alone on it, no matter how hard you try.