It was several days ago, I stood in our kitchen holding onto Matt while he sobbed. There’s only been a handful of times I’ve seen these kinds of tears, you know, the ones that emerged from a very deep place. He had just returned from lunch with a friend, a friend who has lost everything — his wife, career, home, being a full-time dad, and himself — everything. We don’t know the whole story, but he told Matt enough to say, I’m the one who screwed up. Now, like any good outsider would say, he made his bed, now he gets to lay in it.
Except, Matt didn’t say that to his friend, instead, through the tears, Matt gushed,
“Charity, sitting in that restaurant, it all came back to me. As he was telling me his story, I remember how horrible it all was during my affair. I remember what it was like to lose everything, to have everyone hate me, and for days on end, all I could do was cry alone in the dark. I didn’t need people to tell me what a terrible person I was, I knew how terrible I was. Charity, I remember knowing what it was like to be the scum of the earth.”
Yeah, I remember those days, too. I always say, I don’t think there’s any worse pain than the stab of betrayal, but standing in the kitchen with my arms around Matt as he cried for his friend, his past, and for everyone else who’s screwed up their own life, I realized there just may be a worse pain.
I asked Matt what he told his friend. Matt said, “I just told him I get it, man. I get it, but your past mistakes do not define who you are.”
It makes me think about someone else who was also betrayed, and moments before his death at the hands of his betrayers, whispered, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
In that moment, Jesus was doing something more than the perfect act of loving his enemies, he spoke some of the most powerful words “they do not know”. What? What did they not know? What do we still not know to this day? We do not know who we really are, because if we did, we wouldn’t do the things we do. We came to this earth, unaware and ignorant of our identity, and our entire journey is discovering ourselves.
Jesus had the advantage of showing up knowing. He knew he was Love. His enlightened mind understood that his very DNA was woven together with Love, and because He was Love in the flesh, he acted as Love, every single day. You see, if we knew who we are, I mean really who we are, we would only act as we are. At the very onset of creation Love exhaled into us, filling us with himself. Love is within us, and we are within him. Our very DNA is Love, so when we log into that porn site, sneak away with her, or harm our own children, it’s because we don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t know who we really are.
Christ could extend forgiveness to his betrayers, because he knew we’re not defined by our actions, we are defined by our DNA. We are defined by Love. Those filled with hate, for themselves and others, act from their ignorance. Just like a toddler is not defined by her temper tantrum, we aren’t defined by ours either. She just didn’t know you had to take the sucker away for 30 seconds to remove the wrapper.
The paradox of this journey is, the more we learn that we are already one with Love, the more we began to act as Love.
As Matt dried his tears, he said, “I want to be a voice to the hurting. I want to tell people even though you feel like scum, you’re not.”
You already have, baby. You already have.