I know, sweetheart, I know.
I know that people in power in your life cared more about their authority than the gospel. I know they used that authority to keep you in line, in fear. I know you were spanked too often and too hard. I know they told you that you were the problem child, that you never felt like you were seen and loved for you, that you had to act a certain way to feel any semblance of love. I know you tried to come up with stories to explain yourself, or lies to protect yourself. I know that you thought if they could just know how you felt, they wouldn’t treat you like this.
I know they didn’t listen to you. They didn’t believe you when you said he did this to you, or they said it was your fault. I know they protected the other people in power, and you weren’t allowed to question their authority. They never took care of you. Your humanity was a problem, and they used it to keep you afraid of God.
I know some of you shut down the fear with perfectionism. If you could do it all just right, you wouldn’t feel the way you were feeling, because you’d finally be safe. I know some of you tried to drink, smoke and fuck your way to some peace and you can’t stop because the fear and the pain are still right there, so heavy. It’s all even worse because you aren’t supposed to feel that way about God, or about people that were supposed to take care of you. You ran far, far away from those authorities and worked really hard on yourself and you’re better now, better than them, and no one is ever, ever going to be in the position to hurt you like that again.
I know you can’t even go to church because they’re using the same words that were used to beat your tender little heart to a bloody mess. I know when you do find yourself in the pew, you suddenly feel so afraid or angry that you sometimes have to leave halfway through.
I see some of your faces. I was there, I know. Other faces I don’t see yet but I can feel your pain. It threatens to swallow me up some days. I know, and I’m so sorry.
But I also know Jesus. He cared more for you than he cared for his authority. He gave up all his power to put on your skin and mortality. He felt all of the weight of all the shit in the world, the weight that you felt all those years ago when you were so little and the people in charge of you just kept piling it on. But he doesn’t pile it on, he says “come, rest”. He is not in the least bit concerned with who’s in charge or who has authority. He has never cared as much about power as all those people who had authority they were terrified of losing. He’s not scared. He’s not angry. He wants you, as you are, full stop. No ifs, ands or buts.
I’ve been thinking of the story he told about the prodigal son. That boy was talking to himself the whole way home, trying to get his story straight, trying to apologize just the right way, trying to make it look like he knew just what he’d done, just where he went wrong. And his dad just came running out, hugging him, wouldn’t even let him get his words out. His mess, his confession, his apology didn’t matter, because he was so loved. His dad just wanted him home.
You don’t have to know exactly what’s happened, or who’s to blame. You don’t have to sort out your hurt or your anger or your fear before you come. You don’t have to change, do, or be anything different. You can just come. I don’t know what coming home will look like, because my story is different than yours and the path will look different. It might take your whole life, I know.
But I hope you can come home.