There is something about not having a voice (literally, not figuratively) that forces you to listen. Listen to everything around you. The wind in the trees, the barking of your neighbors dog, the laughter of your children as they tumble-down the slide in the backyard. Each sound is either calming and somewhat comforting, or it seizes you with anxiety because you cannot add to it. You are also forced to listen to the sounds in your own mind. That voice that is always going, but somehow you are able to turn the volume down, or even press the mute button on. But, sitting here, this afternoon, with no voice.. I am forced to listen, and so i did.
To start this story off I have to give a little background. You see, I have not known my birth father my entire life. There were only the years between me being 18 and 37 ( 19 short years) that I had a somewhat sporadic interaction with my dad. I have spent (if you added up all the hours together) probably the equivalent of a week or two with him in my lifetime. Some of those hours were spent going extremely early in the morning with him to his job as a DJ for an AM Christian radio show in Michigan. I remember the travel coffee mug that he sat between his knees as he drove with one hand, the other holding his lit cigarette. He would offer me some of his cigarettes when I could not buy my own. It seemed to make him proud to be able to buy something for me each time he’d pick up a pack of Marlboro Reds for me at a gas station. He would give a smile to me when he handed them to me as if he was attempting to somehow make up for the lost years. Some may say it is sad, and a tad pathetic, I think it is endearing and quite honestly moving. You see, he had almost no money himself, and yet, he did that. Yes, I realize they were cigarettes, get over it.. I had been addicted to drugs and alcohol and had quit cold turkey, and cigarettes were my only vice left standing.. he got that. Again, I find something particularly endearing about a person who gives out of what they need for themselves. To empty pockets of nickels, dimes, and quarters to give to someone. It may seem like small change, but when it is all you have it is everything. Such is my life.
My entire life I have had a string of utter rejections. From the time I was born, being completely shut off from my birth dad’s family and eventually a couple of years later, he was gone as well. To then growing up in a house with my birth mom and her new husband who were so obviously not impressed by me in any way, so much so that at age 11 they discarded me as if I were nothing more than a sack of old garbage. Then to go and live with my grandfather, who gave all he could. A suicide attempt at age 16, which led to being completely shut out by what seemed like everyone. I was some sort of broken thing that no-one wanted to take to the shop and get fixed. It seemed easier to discard me and label me an absolute loser in order to feel comfortable with casting me away. Age 18 I hit my rock bottom and find myself on the streets. It took one of the first strings of acceptance by a friend and his family, that rescued me from what I can only see in my mind’s eye as a short, sad life. They took me in, loved on me.. even through they knew who I was. They connected me with my birth father who eventually took me to his church and that is where I made my decision to live my life for God and have Jesus lead my life.
Before I made the decision to become a Christian I remember heading in to my dad’s radio job so early in the morning, he would play cassettes of some of his favorite christian music. I honestly think he was just trying, in his own way to be a good influence. But, there was this one guy he truly seemed to like. One day he played me his cassette. A song began to play in a minor key, grunge through and through (which was my music of choice at the moment) and it sucked me in. The chorus came and I was hit in the gut with such a sucker punch of emotion that when I started to cry I looked quickly out the window and pretended to not be listening. The song’s message was “Jesus is for losers”. At the moment I heard it the first time it made me cry because I always thought of myself as the biggest loser of all. No-one ever wanted me. I screwed up any relationship I had, friends, boyfriend, family. I had been drunk or high for the past 6 years, and honestly hated to look at myself in the mirror. I was a loser. Here was this song saying that Jesus was for me. It began to soften my hardened heart a little, and the sensation was terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. “What if me being a loser doesn’t scare Jesus?” I thought. It was a couple of weeks later, in a small church in downtown Detroit that I gave my life to God completely.
Truth be told? I am still a loser. In a couple of ways. ONE, I mess up a lot. It is not something that I go around purposefully doing, but my human condition and my spiritual condition at times conflict and my flesh will win out. TWO, I lose a lot. I lose myself… as I should. We are told that whoever wishes to find his life must lose it. We are called, urged even, to lay down everything, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus. It is a phrase we say a lot in Christian circles, but if we are brutally honest, in those same circles we go home after our services, meetings, Bible studies, youth groups, and we get settled back in to our cozy “comfortableness” and don’t give the phrase another thought, until we can wield it again for some “oh look at how spiritual i am” moment. We all do it. I know I have. You want to truly have a change in your life and in your heart.. be brutally honest. Drop offenses, and lose yourself. It’s difficult.. I know…. it sucks for me too.. I’m human just like you. It is engrained into our heads, living in America.. the “American Dream”.. you know the line.. “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..” yeah… Jesus didn’t say that.. human beings did. So why do we get more behind that creed.. enough so that we get angry at each other for disagreements about politics and other things that have no business holding the amount of our attention as they do. If it were porn we were watching all day instead of news networks or social media we would be up in arms.. going on and on about the destruction it causes.. and it does.. but so does holding up the false idol of self. Ouch…. right? yeah… that stung like a freaking sting from a wasp king for me too.
Jesus came and died for everyone. Jesus is for losers… the ones who give up everything and follow him. The ones who say.. all I have is yours God. The ones who, if blessed financially, don’t think twice before helping someone out, WITH NO EXPECTATION OF PAYBACK IN ANY WAY. The ones who give their time to the lonely, the hurting, the broken. The ones who decide to not look at their own life story before making the decision to follow Christ and whine about being a loser to people… but stand in the glorious knowledge that we are losers of things that don’t matter as we press on, running a race set out before us.. drawing closer to the finish line (another great song) and shedding it all as we lose our life and gain it in Him.
Yeah, I am a loser. Best thing I could ever be.