“Grace is a painting God’s still completing over our torn canvases.” Bob Goff
It was an unusually cold night, that night in San Jose. As we drove around the city serving coffee and cookies in the red light sections-I spotted her. Even from a distance, in the dark-I saw her determined jaw. She and I had settled into sort of a routine-each week I offered her coffee and cookies, each week she refused. However, with every refusal, her eyes would betray her words.
This particularly cold night, I approached her corner and found her sitting on a stoop near the street alone. I asked her if I could sit next to her and she nodded. We sat in silence for one whole minute. The lines in her face made her look angry but I saw she wasn’t angry-she was sad. I waited for her to speak. I could have sat in silence for as long as needed. Finally, she peered sideways at me, “Girl, do you know what I do? Do you know why I am out here?” I replied, “Yes, I do know why you are here. Do you know why I am here?”
She shook her head no and waited for my explanation. I opened my mouth to give a little synopsis of why I come to the streets but something stopped me. I saw deep within her eyes she held shame. She was waiting for me to say I was a Christian. She was waiting for me to tell her God wanted different for her life. While both of those are true, her context would take these two truths as condemnation. In that moment, I was overcome with love for her. I wanted to be her friend. So the words came out, ” I just really want to be your friend.”
She peered at me suspiciously-“I don’t have friends.” I smiled back and didn’t reply. It was the beginning of an unlikely friendship. She would often speak of desiring to leave the streets but how fear would hold her back. But one day she found the courage to leave the streets and make peace with her family. We lost touch but every time I pass her old corner, I smile to myself. God softens hearts-the hardest of hearts-by His unrelenting love.
God makes crooked, awkward and unforgiving paths become straight. He turns the seemingly impossible into possible. Enemies become friends. Dark becomes light. Hopelessness transforms to hope. All because of this thing called, love.
Love is a funny thing, isn’t it? We all crave it yet struggle to truly understand it. Our definition of love is often defined to us by our past or present circumstances. We want to receive it so easily but sometimes we can’t. We want to give it so easily but sometimes we can’t.
Love is an incredible weapon though against shame, hate and violence. Love brings freedom.
It takes time to grow in our understanding of love. God gave us this incredible tool to help us better understand how love works-it’s called grace. We have to have grace for ourselves and for others. No one wakes up one day and all of the sudden perfects loving well.
Love is a journey and grace is my map.