The day after I published my last post I received a fiery dart disguised as a question via Facebook private messenger from another blogger who ironically markets herself as a “Christian Humor Writer.” This funny lady asked,
“How can you say [the child I aborted] mattered when you killed her?”
I presume this comedian’s question was rhetorical–borne not out of curiosity, but merely meant to hurt and shame–because she immediately unfriended me thereby blocking any reply.
You might think I felt shame or hurt after being called a baby killer by some woman I’ve never met, but what I felt was sadness because now she’s never going to hear the miraculous if decidedly very unfunny story of how Jesus saved even a wretch like me from being exactly what I confessed in that post that I’d become: A selfish, self-centered, battered and bruised, drug-addicted, baby-killing slut.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story about a good shepherd who leaves his 99 obedient sheep to go find one who is missing. Jesus says that when this shepherd found his one lost sheep he rejoiced over it even more than the 99 who stayed put.
It’s been three months since I published that post about how it was I found myself pregnant and lying on the floor with the wind punched out of me by the father of my baby. But it isn’t shame that’s kept me from writing the next installment of the most important story I’ll ever tell. It’s fear. Fear is always the enemy of a writer.
Mostly I’m afraid that I’m not up to the task of telling this story because this story means everything to me. This story of God’s unwarranted love for me is my one and only precious pearl of great price. This pearl cost me everything. It cost me my self-worth. It cost me my self-respect. It cost me everything I believed about myself and about God. But most of all this pearl cost my child her life, and I can never forget the evil I did and the price my child paid to save a wholly undeserving wretch like me.
I also must confess that I’m afraid that after seven years of alienating most of my Christian audience, I’m about to drive away everyone else by publicly admitting that despite it all–and by “all” I mean all that American Christianity has become, and my myriad of ethical, moral and theological problems with it and everything I’ve said or written about my faith in the past seven years–thanks to this one holy and sacred encounter with the Divine, I remain to this day a true believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
I am the one sheep. And maybe you are, too. And despite my terror, this is me leaping over my fear to find you.
The Plight of the True Believer
Maybe the shepherd has already found you, and like me you also have a miraculous story of God’s unfathomable love and grace, but because others who seem to hold some religious authority have shamed you you’ve learned to keep your own pearl of great price hidden out of self-preservation.
Jesus taught his followers not to bother casting their pearls before swine. Like you, I have also been dismayed to discover that the swine Jesus warned his followers about are not always unbelievers but very often those who have risen to positions of religious power and authority. But why are we dismayed? This is exactly as Jesus found the world when he came in the first place.
Yes, it is disheartening that the other 99 sheep may likely never appreciate our stories of God’s amazing grace and unearned love, but we cannot give them the power to silence us. They have become like the prodigal son’s older brother: resentful and jealous, consumed with showing off their own self-righteousness. Rather than feeling angry at the modern-day Pharisees God puts in our path, we should instead be grateful that we’ll never have their cross to bear. How heavy self-righteousness must be. Even more challenging, you and I must find some way to help our blind and deaf brothers and sisters shoulder the weight of a cross they don’t even know they carry.
Maybe you’re still a very lost sheep who has somehow stumbled upon this blog post and are wondering, “WTF?”. Maybe you’ve become worried that God will never find you. Maybe you even think God has stopped searching for you. Maybe you’ve been told by someone who holds some religious authority that God is no longer looking for the likes of you. This is a terrible lie. Please do not believe it.
Maybe you’re among those who think you’re a very good hider, and God will never find you if you have anything to do about it. Or maybe you just don’t believe God’s love and grace is looking for you because you don’t need it. Maybe that is true. Maybe some people never feel the need for God’s love and grace. Since that’s not me I admit I don’t really understand this. I seem to find myself in constant need of God’s love and grace. Fortunately for me, it seems that no matter how many times I wander off, God always comes looking for me again.
A True Believer?
Being a True Believer doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts about whether there is a God or not. I have serious doubts. But despite my disbelief, I cling to a hope that there is a God who loves us not despite our worst behavior but because He knows that when we’re at our worst is when we need His love the most.
In the months before my mother died, she said to me, “It really sucks to reach the end of your life story and realize that you weren’t the main character.” I’m not the main character of this story. If anything, I’m the villain. I fucked up my life beyond repair, and I have nobody to blame for it but myself.
That Christian Humor Writer reminded me of the gauntlet of angry, yelling “pro-life” protestors in front of the clinic I walked into on that terrible day in early February of 1985 on my way to have an abortion I did not want. It’s not very funny at all that not a single one of them put down their ugly sign to ask me what they could do to help me not kill my baby. Nope, that’s not funny at all.