The Loser Like Me. Contemplation and Judgement.
Today I was reminded of what a judgmental person I can be.
I think I have a problem with judging the people that should be easiest to love. That is the people who love Jesus. Especially the middle/upper class people who attend church every Sunday and don’t seem to do anything wrong. There is something inside me that just fights against the system. I am sorry for that, because it is wrong. I should love everybody, but if I am really honest, I don’t always.
I think I knew I was having this judgment problem a few months ago. We had been going to a church that is run by people who appear wealthy and well dressed and well behaved and happy, and while I feel happy while I am with them – I also know that I am usually disappointed in them. From afar (not the ones I know up close), I don’t like them, not because I know I cannot be like them, because I could pretend.
I don’t like them because I don’t want to be like them. I feel like every time I try, I started to lose the person that I am. So then I sin by judging them in my heart, and thus become bitter towards those people who look like they have it all together.
Around that time, I visited a church that was the polar opposite of the one I usually attend. It wasn’t white, the people were not wealthy, and not well dressed or well behaved, and while they may be happy, they also were honest about their lives being in disarray.
The bad part of me looked at them and thought that they were much better then those other church people.
I forget the sermon, and I didn’t like the music because it was 1994 gospel hits, but I do remember a mother.
She got up to tell her story and she rambled for half an hour in coloured Afrikaans, which means it is Afrikaans with enough English that I can follow about 15% of what she is saying. This is better then regular Afrikaans, which I can’t follow at all unless they are saying something really bad, because like any language, the first words you learn are usually the really bad ones.
From what I understood (and was translated to me after), this mother was telling us her son was a hardcore Tik (crystal meth) addict. He stole from her, and he lied to her, and he was angry and difficult and most embarrassing of all he stole from other people.
He had been caught stealing a few times, and every time his mother bailed him out of jail, but in this story, he got caught, and the mother felt the Holy Spirit impress upon her that this time she was not to bail him out. She wrestled with it, because she was afraid of what would happen to her son if he went to jail. Everyone knows that when you go to jail, you’ll probably get raped and get HIV (her words). Which is a very real fear for any mother who wants to protect her son.
She felt that this time though, she had to let him go.
Three months went by before she got a call from the social worker that had been assigned to her son in jail. The social worker explained that she suspected that the son had mental problems, and she had him evaluated, and that he had actually sustained a very serious head injury as a child, which was causing him mental issues and head pains before he had ever even gotten on drugs. The social worker also explained that the son had been very relieved to learn this as it helped explained some of his own problems, and that through this social worker the son had encountered God for the first time in his life and had become a follower Jesus.
The mother went on to explain that the son later called and invited her to come visit him in prison, which was quite amazing considering he was originally pretty angry at his parents for not paying his bail. She said she was still pretty mad at him for stealing from her, so she hadn’t gone to visit him yet, but she was planning to soon, so couldn’t the church pray for her.
The son had found God in jail.
The mother was mad at him, but she was also thankful that God had never left her or him alone.
She told this story in church. All messy and honest and unresolved…
I felt alive.
That is also when I realized that I was angry with the middle/upper class Christians, and I was angry with a church that appears too put together.
This lady was speaking about a God that I knew, and a world that I see. A God who sometimes impresses on us to do the thing that hurts the most because he knows how to best save the life of one that he loves.
She was being so real, and I immediately identified with her, even though I am nothing like her. I felt her humanity, and I loved her for it. I felt her anger at the drug addict that you can’t trust, and I remembered the drug addict in my own life that I have been angry with.
Since I was a little kid I have often fought with disliking people that everyone expects you to like. Sometimes when I am with Christians who all smile together, dress well together and flaunt their wealth together, I have an overwhelming desire to do something very bad or rude or offensive. I think it’s to see if they will still accept me. Usually they don’t, but there have been exceptions, and those exceptions have been the literal hands and feet of Jesus to me.
My heart is drawn to rejects, and drug addicts, and street people. But honestly, it is not because I am a better Christian then other people, mostly I think because I am too judgmental to love ‘good’ people. I am always secretly waiting for them to show us that they aren’t that good, because then I will feel better about my own rebellion and mistakes.
Today I was on my way to the gym, and realized that I was too lazy to work out, and instead went to sit in a coffee shop to read a book. In the middle of reading, I suddenly felt very convicted that actually, I think I am a loving person because certain people are easy for me to love. But just like anyone, my love has limits and expectations, and there is a whole group of people that I love to hate. Bam. Conviction. I should have just gone to the gym.
I am sorry for that judgment.
With that said, also had the realization that I don’t want to try and not love the people that I do. I think I get into the habit of playing the part of who I think other people expect me to be, rather then playing the part that God made me to be.
God made me someone who feels empowered when I am in the middle of dirt and difficulty. I wish I wasn’t like that, because then I could be apathetic. But the truth is I was more depressed when I was apathetic, then I have ever been as an activist. Unfortunately, the fall back means that, while I shouldn’t hate clean cut, put together Christians, I probably will never fit into being one. Drama seems to follow the front lines.
I still first met Jesus in a trendy and wealthy church environment, but I was discipled to know Jesus by real people. I don’t want to lose my realness.
And I am sorry for that too. But I won’t change it, because sometimes the most profound Jesus moments come from the worst possible situations, and I want profound, even if that means getting messy.
Anyways, it all made me think of a poem I wrote after Christmas, mess and all – its called “The Loser Like Me”:
I smoke to remember
Sometimes I drink to forget
I laugh when
I should be crying
Of the world that’s trying
So hard to make it right
For the dying
They look and ask
Can we win a fight
Before we breathe our last
Do we get to see
The completed task
You told me
The son of man
Came in humility
Cause if he came a winner
Where would us loser’s be
Grace shown only to the sinner
Is why the lesson
Of my religion
Is found with the destitute
Instead of the champion
The crooked cop
Wants to go straight
He just needs enough
To change the fate
Of his Kids left hungry
Cause their mama is the junkie
Who found escape
Just didn’t count the cost
How hard the road
Once you are lost
His shaken foundation
Has left him enough tears
To last his family another
And what of the
Watching the sex slave
Hand over her shoes
To the jailer paid
To lock up the prostitute
And let her captor
Walk away, his night made
In his wallet is her wage
Only love reflecting grace
Can change the way
She sees her face
I know the end of the story
But that does not mean to her
What it means to me
If she hasn’t heard it yet
So the carpet is out
From under my feet
I’m on the ground
In the dirt
Hands empty, A defeat
Laughing when I should be crying
Because I won’t know what to do
With a heart anymore broken For the dying
But I am not staying down
Out of the fight where
I will not see the battle wounds
That can only be healed in the light
Remember that birth in humility
For the loser like me
Well he rose again you see
O’death where is thy victory