Separation - Becoming Whole
A young woman went to court in California to re-claim her children from foster care after she spent 5 years in prison for drugs. In the courtroom her eyes opened to the damning truth when her youngest said “Mom” to his foster mother. The young woman’s head told her that her own babies were no longer hers. She signed away her parental rights, so that her children would not be separated from their loving foster parents.
She did what needed to be done for her children, but she couldn’t face the horror of having abandoned them and used drugs to dull the nightmare of her heart ache. Eleven years later, she found herself in a shelter for abused women in a small Missouri town. The shelter staff helped her learn to care about herself, get into recovery, and reach a point where she now lives on her own.
This week the director of that shelter said to me, “People don’t realize how thin the line is between them and the broken person they pass by on the street.” Some of those who abandoned their homes to flee Hurricane Florence are about to see that line dissolve when they return to find little they can salvage of the life they have known. Like people who ran from fires. From volcano. It’s tempting to say they should have built their house somewhere else. It’s not me facing disaster.
I posted on this website a draft of a story about a woman making careless choices and ending up where she should have known better. This story, “Riled Up!” recalls my previous blog, “In the Radical Middle." It’s set in a women’s shelter, going along with today’s topic.
In day to day living, it feels good to be confident that I’m strong enough to help others, which results in a kind of pride. A secret sense that I’m better than someone that I help. Which puts an unhelpful separation between me and them.
In the New Testament parable, Lazarus begs at the gate, annoying the home owner. Does Jesus side with the respectable citizen? Uh, no. Jesus stands with the beggar that society despised.
I can reach out a hand to help somebody who should get their act together. Really! But their seeing past my smile to that blind pride broadcasting “I’m better than you” cripples my ability to help.
I’m trying to learn to take a fresh look, to see Jesus standing beside the “despicable” person. And maybe – just maybe – if I outgrow some of my blind pride, I'll become more whole – a kind of wholeness I haven’t realized I was missing.