I recently signed up to be an advocacy speaker for our local domestic abuse shelter, sharing my story of being a survivor of sexual assault and the help I got after I was raped.
While pondering my own story, another story I hold came to mind—of a woman I befriended after she had committed a heinous crime in my community. I recently came across a bundle of her letters and realized I carry a part of her story that no one else knows.
This woman had a mental illness and heard voices inside her head. One day, she obeyed the voices that had been telling her to do something shocking, something that would make people take notice. Her actions made no rational sense, but the mental illness jumbled rational thought.
In the weeks and months following the crime, I prayed for the victims of her crime, their families and our community; and I prayed for her.
God placed this woman in my heart, and I kept seeing her as God’s daughter, a woman God still loved despite what she had done. I did not excuse what she had done, and I understood the anger of my community toward her because I, too, felt that anger. Yet God kept inviting me to look beyond what she had done to see the woman who was ill and in need of compassion. God wrote her name on my heart and asked me to see her with the eyes of my heart (Ephesians 1:18).
Eventually, I got to know this woman, and we became friends. Although I have not seen her for a long time, I still carry her in my heart.
She is not the only person God has placed on my heart, and over the years God has invited me to look at people and situations through God’s eyes, to see beyond the external facts to a deeper truth.
It can be a great challenge for me to look beyond what people do—the pain they inflict and the damage they cause—to see them as God sees them. It helps to think of my own actions that have hurt others and my desire for God to see beyond what I do, my hope that God still sees me as a beloved daughter.
On my own, I would get stuck in anger or fear; it is only possible for me to be compassionate because of the grace God gives me.
Reading Chapter 31 of Jeremiah, I wondered what God is writing in my heart now. Where is God inviting me to look beneath or beyond actions to see the need for understanding and compassion?
What is God writing on your heart?