I was having a conversation with a friend on a hot-topic debate going on in our nation right now. We both saw eye to eye, and as the conversation got deeper, we realized that we were actually being quite honest with each other and letting one another know something that they might not otherwise be aware of. A secret if you will. Something you’ve hidden in the vault of your heart for fear that you might be judged.
It was so surprising because the conversation began somewhere totally different from where it ended up. A real pinball-type conversation, pinging off this topic and that until we met at the hot-button issue. Though we saw eye to eye, the conversation took a pleasant and unexpected turn.
Have you ever been down by the beach or in a really crowded area where people are mostly in swim attire, like a pool or a water park? In most places, I’m an observer and notice all the different types of people. What they wear, how they look. The outward stuff. We all do it. Sometimes, you see someone who gets your judgments right away. “Lots of tattoos, must be trouble. Lots of cleavage, she’s sending off the wrong message.”
I could go on about the way we judge people by their appearance. But consider the tattoo comment. What if each person’s sin was tattooed on an obvious place on their body? People with Adulterer, Liar, Cheater, or Blasphemer just tattooed right out there for the whole world to see. How terribly might we judge that person? We might walk away from our own soulmate if their sins were writ large upon their body. Our best friends and even siblings we wouldn’t even have in our life because their sins were so blatantly obvious upon a glance at their skin. It makes me so sick to my stomach to think about what mine might say.
But I promise you that one of them would say Redeemed. Jesus is like that. You bring your sins to him and lay them all at his feet. However, he isn’t laser tattoo removal, right? He can’t take the sins away from your past. You done sinny-sin-sinned and that will always be there, like a word you can’t take back after it leaves your mouth. Jesus is like that badass tattoo artist who can come in afterward and do a cover-up on that sin tattoo. Your sin is transformed into something beautiful. He covers that drunken mistake of a four-leaf clover and leaves you instead with a beautiful butterfly. Confessing that Jesus is Lord and you believe he died for your sins does not make your sins go anywhere, but he can transform them into good things. Powerful testimony. True redemption. Grace. Mercy.
As I ended this long conversation with my friend, we were even closer than before. As I backpedaled nervously over my vault-emptying confession, she replied with the most amazing… Well, just read it:
“I know I don’t know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. I know I couldn’t understand, but that’s why I’m not a judge. I can listen to everyone with open ears and an open heart. The more I learn about you, the stronger I see you are.”
Instead of shaming me for what I had told her, she said that I was strong. She took my sin and just like Homeboy Jesus with a backwards hat and full beard, she tattooed on my sin a word: Strong. It changed my confession for me. Not that she herself absolved me. But she let me know that my sin didn’t define me; I defined me. A great gift can be given just by a helpful listen and a kind response. Love is free to give. Just give it!
Be safe. Be great. Be you.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. How could we be better about not placing judgments but rather being supportive and loving?
2. If redemption has ever washed over you, could you share that with another person who may feel ashamed to come back to God? How?
3. When you‘re standing in the face of your shame, what Bible verses do you run to that help your attitude?