Be the One You Needed

I can’t remember for sure but it feels like my first introduction to Jesus was probably to his clear set of rules. In my world of chaos, the thought of some sort of blueprint was appealing even if I thought early on most of the consequences for rule-breaking would be hell. As the years and I both grew, I read about how Jesus wept, how much he liked bread and fish, and I learned about his John 3:16 kind of love.
I had tasted (and for sure tested) and seen just enough to know God was real and had at sweet times felt the weight of his arm across my shoulders.
But mostly, and without knowing it, he remained thin and flat as the pages in my Bible.
With one side of my mouth I would sing Jesus Loves Me and with the other side I would try and hold it in such a way so as to be the very good girl he could love. My heart was as fully in this Jesus kind of life as much as it knew how to be…yet there was a disconnect, two ends of a rope I couldn’t get to meet no matter how hard I pulled at them. Through many books and conversations over the years, I would catch a hint of a smell of something I didn’t quite know I was always after. All these words helped inch my toes toward some great cliff of freedom I suspected was out there in the great Christian wild.
Then one night years ago (I still remember the moment), I picked up a book called Ragamuffin Gospel.
And I finally met an inconsistent, unsteady Brennan Manning, a man whose cheese was falling off his cracker and explained from the first chapter that ‘Something is Radically Wrong’. By the end of those chewed up, tear-stained and highlighted words, Jesus rose real as skin on bones to me from a thin, flat papery grave.
Brennan helped me to understand the thing I could never connect for myself and more than any person I’d come across:
I am loved just as I am.
And this changed everything for me.
Around a month ago, I was finishing Manning’s memoir All is Grace. In this last book and towards the end of his life, he wrote:

If asked whether I am finally letting God love me, just as I am, I would answer,
“No, but I’m trying.”

I read these words and my breath leaked from my lungs like a tiny hole in a car tire. I didn’t move for a very long time, trying to absorb it all:
The man who made me believe that God really loves me had spent his entire life convincing himself.

*****

A couple of weeks ago, I met for an evening coffee with the sort of women who thankfully do not splash in the shallow end of conversations.
Only several minutes in and one asked ‘So, like, what’s your deal?’
I had only just met her but I recognized a kindred and understood the question. I started my story at five years old when there was the kind of event that leaves the rest of the days known as After and wound up to how I came to be and who and how my heart desired to serve. My hands may have flown off my wrists while I was talking and I overheated towards the end over my passion for the next generation. I trailed off with the kind of laughter meant to put a cover over sharp feelings.
‘I guess I’m just always trying to help out the five year old me.’
As I said this it felt just like I had gently opened up both hands cupped together to reveal something rather delicate inside.
‘In some way do you think we’re always trying to heal our own kind of hurts?’
We sat looking into my hands each with her own thoughts for a full moment before we dove deep once more.

*****

Who did you need when you were younger?
Who was it that should’ve come along and wiped your tears, helped you up the hill, told you that you would live through this ache that threatened to swallow you up? Who could’ve whispered to you of the kind of hope that can only be spoken from another’s wounds? The kind that resurrects a thin flat-papered savior to a Jesus so near you feel his warm breath on your cheek every minute.
Go and be that person.
Someone needs you…and it will change everything.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

4 COMMENTS

  1. Christy | 26th Apr 17

    This is beautiful. Love the way you write! It’s tender and REAL and leaves me thinking…thank you for sharing!

    • Melissa Blair | 3rd May 17

      Thank you for your words, friend. I’ve been thinking about my writing for you a lot lately. Let’s lunch or coffee or just whatever soon, okay?

  2. Amy | 26th Apr 17

    As I sit here and think about why I am not being the person I needed at 5, or 15 for that matter, it boils down to a fear of rejection. “That 20 year old girl with the pre-motherhood body and bright smile who is walking a flippant path to destruction and heartbreak… she will laugh at my warnings and see me as a has-been who is only trying to squelch her fun” my mind tells me. “It won’t matter” I say… but if I am honest I have to admit that what I’m really saying is “I am afraid of their rejection of me and I don’t care enough to risk that.” What a selfish woman I can be. How dare I hoard freedom. I look back at my former self and think “I wouldn’t have listened…” but this doe-eyed 20something is not ME. She might listen, and if she does it will be to the glory of God and for her freedom! Why do I fear rejection… why do I constantly pine for the acceptance of humans? I am going to confess this and battle pride, for the sake of my 5, 10, 15 year old selves. Thank you for writing, and for knowing that we may not be able to turn back the clock, but we can wind it up again. (<<<< totally stolen from the Cars 3 movie trailer)

    • Melissa Blair | 3rd May 17

      Okay. First. I love the Cars 3 quote. I’m a quote hound and they just come from everywhere and it’s all fine. Second. I love that you lay it out…confession and all. You know that takes guts, right? Third and most: I just love you. WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET TO JUST SIT AND TALK??!?!? The fact that you even stop and ask yourself…you my people, Amy.
      Thank you for always showing up.

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