For Jesse

This was written a few years ago… but still relevant in my life today. Good morning, wake up call.

I don’t know how to articulate the change that’s going on in me. I can’t express the plans I have to turn that change into action. All I know is that God is revealing truths to me, about my ignorance, my pride, my preoccupations that rock my core.

I live in a two-story house; I worship the white-man’s God; I have an obsession with cute shoes; I spend an obscene amount on fast-food; and I know that one block away from my house a woman was shot and murdered a few years ago by her boyfriend. I sit in this room and contemplate and conversate and ruminate over the struggles of the poor man and the oppressed man, and I leave to obliviously crawl into my double bed with the three-inch orthopedic mattress topper I found on E-Bay to read more about those struggling folks I don’t know.

But I do know them. Yesterday. I saw one. I saw one walking down Judge Ely with a limp and three grocery bags, setting down the bags every few steps to catch her breath. I see one standing on the corner at Wal-Mart with a sign nearly every time I go to spend money on those necessities, those things I can’t live without.

And then there’s Jesse, six-years-old, a bit small for his age, with the most genuine gold-capped tooth smile. Jesse, the homeless kid in class whose mom is a stripper. The nights she works, he stays with his teenage aunt in the hotel room they live in with his 4-year-old and 10-month-old brothers. Jesse, who knows all his letters and numbers and reads better than any student in his kindergarten class, but will never be taught how to rise above his circumstances because he’ll just be learning how to survive. Jesse, who left halfway through the semester to go to his fourth elementary school in a year because his mom is running from CPS.

And I cried that day. But then I went back to my side of town to play private school soccer and make semi-funny jokes and do my bible homework. Just another day in the life of me. So my tears dried up pretty nicely.

What good are tears if they don’t clean out the dirt and grime and indifference and inaction from within? Jesse will never see my tears. He doesn’t care about my tears. He has his own. But it made me feel better to cry it out. Tears make me feel like I care, like I sympathize, and like I’m a good person for feeling sorry for them. I’m sure those struggling folks are really dadgum happy I feel sorry for them.

You see, I claim to be color-blind. But really, I’m just blind. Blinded by my passions, my pursuits, my people. But mostly blinded by my self-righteous, vain, futile tears. The tears that convince me that I care. The tears that run down my face and fall aimlessly on hard, cold ground so they can dissipate into nothingness. The tears that evolve from that place deep within me that is angry at the injustices, marginalization and rejection of God’s people. The same place that action is born and dies.

So here’s to replacing tears for warfare. Because Jesse doesn’t need tears, he needs a battle waged in his name. Because tears don’t give him a home, or a better mom, or a good education, or a future. I’m laying down my warm and fuzzies and exchanging my pocketed hands for fists of indignation.

I hear stories of change, justice, service, love and I praise those courageous people for their purpose. And sit. I watch videos of Mother Teresa and weep at the materialism of my life and the direction of hers. And sit. I encounter deprived and unloved and angry people and turn my back to their distress. Because I’m too busy sitting.

Jesus never sat. He walked, healed, glorified, baptized, praised, preached, led, discipled, cared for, ministered. And if he was ever tired, he knelt.

So God,

I am kneeling. I am kneeling that I may stand. I want to stand and be your hands and feet. And heart. I want you to stir within me so greatly and unmistakably that I am physically moved out of my seat. I finally understand the purpose of my formation. I am formed not so that I can be your best follower or favorite daughter. Not so that I can feel good about my religiosity. Not so that I can be a great Christian leader in the church and impress others by how many verses are underlined in my bible. But so that I can better serve my brothers and sisters. I am born again so that I can constantly be transformed and reformed in your likeness, which enables me to walk, heal, glorify, baptize, praise, preach, lead, disciple, care for, and minister.

Open my eyes God to those moments. And move me to take advantage of them. And help me see the emptiness of my tears.

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