Just wanted to stop by quickly and say that I’m so excited for this guest post written by none other than my sweet boyfriend. Delving into the minds and the hurts of some people can be scary but I hope you appreciate his approach and telling of such events as much as I do. Enjoy!
Who am I? What am I doing with my life?
Often, I ask myself what’s wrong with me. Why do I make mistakes? Why do I decide to do things I know I will regret? Why can’t I remember the feeling of regret from before? I repeat my mistakes and I hurt people. I never have a good answer. Maybe I am not meant to know what is truly wrong. Maybe nothing is wrong. Maybe I’m normal. Or maybe not, I don’t know.
Perhaps I’m as normal as the bald guy next to me at the grocery store. Maybe he has stories. Maybe he was a father. Maybe he was a police officer. My thirty second window into this bald man’s life is unfocused and overshadowed by the obligation to find the very best peanut butter. At this very moment, he too is deciding which peanut butter to buy. We may never see one another again. He may not have seen me in the first place. How did he get bald? Was his mother’s father bald? My mother’s father was bald. I’m nervous. I don’t want to be bald. Did he do drugs that caused his hair to deplete? I hope to never do those drugs. This man intrigues me. At what point in his day did he decide he needed to buy peanut butter? There is nothing else in his basket. There is nothing in mine as well. We both are on a quest. And though each of our quests may hold similar results, the quests themselves are in fact completely different. Where did he come from before this? What is his job? Does he have a job? Does he have a family? Does he have a dog?
For twenty-five years, my life has been building up to this moment – and every moment that follows. And for twenty-five years, time on this Earth has passed, either with him included, or not. But time has passed regardless, leading up to these thirty seconds of us standing next to one another. When he finally chooses his peanut butter, and I mine, our lives will continue for as long as they may, but it is important to remember they are two entirely different lives.
This is how I view the world now. It can be kind of stressful. But it has almost entirely removed any hostility I once had.
Most interactions I have with others last no more than thirty seconds (aside from ones with people I actually know). In those thirty seconds, I have learned nothing of this person but the way they look, and the way they acted in those thirty seconds. I think of moments in my life that I regret. Many of those moments lasted longer than thirty seconds. Some of those moments have not ended. Of the ones that I can remember, whether they last no more or less than thirty seconds, none are a representation of my entire being. Yet somehow, I allow myself to fall into this persona of a man who believes he understands a person’s entire life and being based on a thirty second interaction, of which the majority includes no conversation.
This haunts me.
How many interactions have led others to believe terrible things about who I am? How many of those are my fault? Most? How many could I have avoided? All? How many people wonder the same things?
If a Nobel prize winning scientist commits murder, he is a murderer. But what about his life before? What about his accomplishments? He is no longer defined by his dreams nor his success, but by the second in which he chose to end another person’s life.
Or perhaps, when a famous preacher cheats on his wife. Suddenly, in the moments his errors are made known, his entire being is defined by this affair. We ignore the things he once did. We may have never heard of this man before, but this is the way we see him now. No matter the convicting words he once spoke. No matter the lives God may have changed through him. It’s as though to us, his entire life, the little we’ve known of it, has been a lie.
But what if these men didn’t define themselves by murder or their affair, but rather by their great works? Our view of these men would not change. In fact, it may worsen. Who would choose to look past his own errors and see himself as something other than the title we have given him – a title he deserves because of what he chose to do? But does it make sense to give him this definition? The scientist didn’t accomplish the things he did by murdering people. All the discoveries he may have made weren’t suddenly undiscovered because of his crime. I doubt the preacher would have had much success in the church if he was having affairs with everyone. The wisdom he may have received from God which he shared with his congregation isn’t suddenly deemed blasphemous or useless because of his sin. Yet, when the news breaks and the stories flood our conversations, we dismiss the greatness these men once had, and choose to view them with new, villainous identities.
We do this in many situations, to many people.
We do this to ourselves.
What if I was defined by a moment when I chose to do something terrible? Which one would it be? What if I chose to look past my mistakes and see myself for my accomplishments or the great things I’ve done? What a hypocrite! What kind of man knows in himself the things he is and has been capable of, and chooses to see the good instead? What kind of man sees the unbelievable ways he has hurt his friends and chooses not to condemn himself for his crimes?
And yet, I sit here in my bed, weeping, because I realize once more I am not defined by the terrible things I’ve done. Rather, I am defined by a love I don’t understand. In the very midst of my darkest moments – even those I have created for myself – I am met with a love from God that chooses to see past anything I have ever done or will do. I weep because I know the love He has for me is the same love He has for the murderous scientist, or the cheating preacher.
It’s the same love extended to the ones who murder thousands of innocent people. It’s the same love for my neighbor who hates Christians. It’s the same love for the man who harasses women. It’s the same love for the guy who takes advantage of the sick. It’s the same love for the convict. It’s the same love for the corrupt. It’s the same love for the poor. It’s the same love for the rich. It’s the same love for every race. And it’s a love I am called to have for everyone. EVERYONE. No one single being is excluded from that.
And thus, I must have, for those around me and those I may never meet, the same love God has for me – a love that has no bounds. I cannot choose to live a life of Love if I allow myself to define others by the mistakes they may have made, or the 30 second glimpses I see in which they chose to do terrible things. No matter how terrible.
Because, then who am I?