When We Feel Beautiful in an Ugly World

dPfjQTyJSJ2LpM7D9Yr0_Photo 15-02-2014

I looked into the face of a murderer this morning and my stomach turned.

Last week, I looked into the face of a rapist and my blood boiled.

For months and months, I’ve been looking into the faces of ISIS terrorists, kidnappers, corrupt politicians, and abusive parents. And I’m struggling to stay grounded.

I scroll through the images and articles and I feel it pulling me. A current works to get under my feet and sweep me away with the rest of the world. The anger, the divisiveness, the panic …  Do you feel it? 

It sounds like a cry for love and justice, but there’s an undertow of pride and more hate.

Because in the face of all of this ugliness, we feel beautiful. 

I was born with the makings of a murderer, a rapist, and a terrorist. I am a stealer, liar, and a thief. I can do nothing good on my own, and I deserve the worst. So do you.

For the wages of sin is death… -Romans 6:23

It’s dangerous when we size up sin and sinners – when we start to ask  “Where is God?” instead of “Who am I?” *

Who am I to deserve nurturing parents, wealth, or mental health? 

Who am I to have had healthy role models and moral educators? 

Who am I to live?

I woke up this morning in a dangerous place: hating those who hate, judging those who judge, and closing my eyes to avoid the darkness. The current was bending me and shaping me, and I was trying to stand alone while wanting to join the crowd.

And though I deserve to be swept away, for a reason I’m not worthy to know, Grace anchored me with the truth. And I remembered…

I feel beautiful when I look at Omar Mateen, but every time I walk into a roomful of people different from me and do not love, I am a murderer. Lord have mercy.

I feel beautiful when I look at Brock Turner, but every time I subtly take advantage of someone with less power, I am a rapist. Lord have mercy.

I feel beautiful when I look at today’s politicians, but every time I tweak the truth for self-promotion, I am just as despicable. Lord have mercy. 

But for the grace of God, go I.

Friends, let’s not close our eyes in disgust. May we look with truth and grace at the sinners of the world and at the sinners in the mirror and remember who we are.

It’s the only thing that heals the disease and it’s the only difference between myself and those on the news…It’s a recognition of grace – not from me, because of me, or even in spite of me.

Because of Jesus. In glory of Him.

Lord, change the tides. Change me. 

… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23


photo credit: Joshua Earle

*questions taken from a portion of this sermon by Bob Hopper at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “When We Feel Beautiful in an Ugly World

  1. Jan Burch June 13, 2016 / 10:08 am

    Words and thoughts that are needed now – when grounding seems far away.
    Thank you.

    Like

  2. Rosemary Oliver June 13, 2016 / 12:32 pm

    Fabulous, Kareni’m using your story at jailGod bless yourosemary

    Like

  3. Michele Morin June 13, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    Such helpful and grace-oriented thoughts for a troubled time. Thanks, Karen. I always appreciate your writing.

    Like

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