on truth and empathy until then


Her Brighton purse with detailed heart medallion clasp sits on the table, and she wears a quilted jacket in the warm Spring-time. While her daughter shops, this elderly woman to my right talks on her cell phone of what she’d like for Christmas, gives a lesson on her favorite jewelry-designer, details the day she had terrifying chest pains, and talks about the women from church who sit up late, alone, wasting time, watching night-time programs, can’t believe how many do it. She says, “So I stayed up late, and I watched.” A diner telephone confessional, in the loud whispers of those who wear hearing aids: “I can’t tell you how Much I love Tina Fey.”

On and on about Tina Fey and how funny Saturday Night Live is, her mouth moves, well-oiled, and whoever it is on the other line is so patient – must be. She goes on and on, covers a doctor’s visit, talks about the way she is, her un-maternal attitude toward others. She gossips, and whoever it is is listening, and finally she says, “Will you please come see me?” and then she goes silent.

I, myself, am here to write, and of course, I get caught up in bird watching. I’m in and out of my own dramatic detailing, my own list of just-the-way-I-am, and then a lady takes over the space, and she is messed up. She’s old and lonely, and I assume nothing more out of myself, except that God usually really messes up my expectations for the future.

I think about the way we are, people, strange birds. Beautiful Jennifer Knapp and this old woman, like they’ve finally been given permission to speak,  and how it’s the people with no-matter-what ears who change the world, who go meet the messed-up where they are, who call them right names.

It’s just so good to be called Lover or Mama while we’re in the skin, to have a place with what we’re called – strange birds. So in this human condition in which we’re all stuck, until we meet eternal youth and grow out of our use for mirrors, let’s call each other the Good True Names and bear with each other, on the other line, in fear of death, in homosexuality, in all the ways we’re trying to survive. Speak the truth – yes – but just as important, let’s bear up and cast off fear, because no one is exempt from the burn that comes with living in people skin.

I’m so so thankful for my Jesus today.

amberhaines
About me

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11 Comments

Prudence
Reply April 15, 2010

When I read the article on Jennifer I was of course saddened. I've always enjoyed her music. It's not for me to judge if she is a Christian or not, but obviously the thought ran through my brain. Only God knows the answer to that question. I wonder more so, how the church would respond. My ultra conservative, salvation by moral living, friends on Facebook have been strangely silent. Not sure if they don't know or just refuse to say anything.

My heart? It breaks for Jennifer. But I have my own sin I need to deal with before I can judge her. Sin that is just as worthy of death. And....I will always have sin to deal with therefore I have no right to stand and point a judging finger at her. She is still God's creation, made in His image.

tiny twig
Reply April 15, 2010

this is absolutely beautiful. thanks. :)

joann
Reply April 15, 2010

Thank you.

joann
Reply April 15, 2010

thanks for sharing this. We must know Christ and him crucified. Full stop.

Kelly Langner Sauer
Reply April 15, 2010

Oh, I love your writing. I love your heart for others you encounter. You SEE outside of you. You challenge me. I want to be like you when I grow up. But I suspect that is because you are like Him, and He is living out of you to help me see how He can be.

Jacklyn
Reply April 15, 2010

This is a beautiful post. So many times I go somewhere to write and then end up people watching. They are so fascinating. Then I think...what do people think when they watch me. It's very challenging to me as well and who I am in the skin. Thanks so much!

Heather
Reply April 15, 2010

Amen. I am one strange bird, and I appreciate those who will walk beside me, listen when I chirp, and not kick me when I'm down. Heck, I like it better if you don't kick me when I am up, either.

Elizabeth (@claritychaos)
Reply April 15, 2010

I want no-matter-what ears. I try, I do. And I am standing in solidarity with you on this, all the way. I think you knew that without me telling you, though.

And this: "Speak the truth – yes – but just as important, let’s bear up and cast off fear, because no one is exempt from the burn that comes with living in people skin." The way you put this sings to me, Amber.

I could go on. About this very conversation I had with my Dad on Easter weekend. About the political rally I had to walk past today on my way to work, past the Capitol building, me seething and then seeing and then letting go. About so much more. (so much more.)

I am grateful for the way you write this out. This gentle urging that so many need to hear. I hope ears and hearts are open.

Aimee
Reply April 15, 2010

So beautiful.

Please, please, PLEASE submit an entry to this:
http://blog.wvwriters.org/2010/04/alabama-writers-conclave-2010-contest.html

Cassie Boorn
Reply April 16, 2010

I just love you.

Tammy@If Meadows speak...
Reply April 17, 2010

Beautiful post. Oh for the love of lies. We've all listened to them. Believed some of them. And lived one, or two, or....of them. Thank God for Christ who comes to set the captives free. I agree Amber, I too am thankful for Jesus today.

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