As I walked through the airport to catch this flight, I felt a welcome peace. It is a reassured peace, not the peace of giving up and going numb. I feel anticipation, excitement about where I am going. I feel God’s help though I have become a terrible traveller. I pack way too much, surrounding myself with security and comforts to make me feel safe and connected to home. I prayed that I would get the TSA pre-checked status and I did. Silly, I know, but it made me smile, like God gave me a kiss on the cheek.
As I walked onto the plane, I thought about the people gazing as I went down the aisle. In an instant I thought, “I love them. I love people. God loves them. Christ died for them.” I looked at their faces and into the eyes of the ones who were comfortable with it. I wondered what their lives are like, what they think about, if they pray. Then I wondered if I would love them if they treated me the way some of my “friends and loved ones” have. I wondered how many of them would harm me if I confronted them too directly with words that delve too deep. Would they attack me for seeing too much, for knowing too much, for benign sad attempts to love well? Would they be jealous? Would they lie about me or worse yet, ignore me like a faded FOR SALE sign in overgrown weeds? Would they judge me for being as guilty as they are?
Suddenly I didn’t feel so noble for loving these strangers. Sure, I’d probably die for them. I might die for the loved ones, too, but sometimes it feels like I already have. When at last I forgive betrayals and hurts and condescensions, part of me dies. When I stand up for myself in the face of humiliating accusations, I feel that innocence should speak for itself - and part of me dies. Christ in me is to live, to die is to gain. I am nothing to any of them, but maybe to be nothing is to gain everything. I can’t do anything for any of them. They don’t even want me to. If you look to please people, you always find that you can only please them for as long as you have something they want. We’re all that way.
Oh God, whose name and nature is Love, show me the strangers through your eyes. Show me the loved ones through your heart. Show me myself through grace and forgiveness.