journal entry May 1, 2018
Are you willing to be changed completely, Much Afraid, and to be made like the new name which you will receive if you become a citizen of the Kingdom of Love?
- Hannah Hurnard, Hinds Feet On High Places
Today a wall came down. Something big happened. I may have head lice because of it but I don’t care, I’m radiating an energy that is not of my own strength.
I walked through the grocery isles filling my shopping cart with everything we needed to last us for a week. I’ve spent more than I should and splurged on a few items. Penelope danced around me and hung illegally onto the back of the cart. I pushed the heavy cart onward and through the checkout. The cashier seemed distant and irritated to be there, I gave her my best smile though I had a canker sore on my bottom lip that screamed agonizing pain every time I moved my mouth.
We walked out of the store with all of our abundance in tow, Penelope skipping beside me. The noise from the wheels of the shopping cart were clanking along. I hardly noticed and almost didn’t hear a small voice saying, “excuse me miss...” then trailed off into a mumble. I looked down towards my feet and there on the sidewalk, leaned up against the same building that housed enough food to feed 10,000, sat a filthy man. His eyes lowered and his mouth moving.
Was he talking to me?
The shopping cart halted.
I leaned in.
Again he said with his eyes to the ground, “Excuse me miss, I don’t mean to bother you....” his words trailed off again.
“I’m sorry I can’t hear you.”
His eyes lifted and met mine. And there, I looked into his leathered black skin, browned spotted teeth and matted hair, my own brown eyes searched past his yellowed eyes and into his round brown pupils. Our faces now close as I stooped down to hear him better. He dropped his eyes to the floor and put his head down quickly again. Shamefully and with all the zero dignity he had left in him asked, “I’m hungry, do you have anything to help?”
“What’s your name?” Came a voice that sounded like mine and came from my own lips but I wondered as I heard it whose it was and where it came from.
“Reggie,” he looked up once again.
He had a name.
“Hello Reggie, I’m so happy to meet you, I’m Lorraine and this is my daughter Penelope,” I said as I pointed to a stunned little girl who wondered also where her shy, introverted mama went.
I stuck out my hand to shake his just as he raised his arms to give a hu.... oh wait. Whoa there. Our gaze unlocked and I looked away remembering my old self. My old self doesn’t like hugs. I’m uncomfortable. My self. My uncomfortable self likes to be comfortable. Comfortable.
He shook my hand and we stood talking for a bit longer. I gave him some change and told him to buy something to eat. He was on his own two feet now, almost as if by the smile I was giving him it was enough to feel human again. He smiled and even made a little joke to Penelope.
Then he did the strangest thing. He raised his arms once more. Without thinking I went in. I raised my arms and wrapped them around this stranger. Then I had a burning desire to tell him, “Jesus loves you Reggie.”
“Say it” said the desire. My lips glued shut. In my hesitation the hug was over and we both went our parting ways.
Upon returning to the car and after loading Penelope and all the 7 reusable bags of groceries into the car, I sat. Stone faced on the way home. I blew it! Ugh! My mind raced back to the scene. Why couldn't I just have said it? Why am I so slow to act? I was afraid.
“Oh God,” cried my soul, “I’m sorry that I am not who you want me to be! Make me strong like hinds feet to be set upon the high places so that I may serve you!”
I lay in bed tonight still thinking about Reggie. It’s raining tonight. Was he comfortable. Was he safe and dry under a roof of his own? Was he fed today? Did he know Jesus loved him? How many people passed him by today and told him that he was loved? Did he know he was loved?
When I first moved here I wrote in my journal (Learning To Love and also in The Thorny Seed That Led Me To Grace) that God was breaking me and showing me how to have mercy for others. Three years ago I would have scowled at beggars. Two years ago I was quickly throwing change at them then running off. Last year, I spoke a “Hello” to homeless strangers. This year a wall came down. A barrier was broken and I loved like the way God sees ME: past my ugly and right through to my brokenness and full of shame.
God is doing a work in me. Now He takes me beyond the comforts of my self-centered self slowly and so gently. He changes me from being much afraid and is teaching me to speak.