I’ve considered this the adventure of a lifetime, a road sign along the way to the truth, the art of losing myself.
I never meant it to be the answer, just a great place to start looking.
Because I don’t know what you have been through.
And I don’t know where you’re going.
But I know sometimes faith can be a rope that hurts to hold. And I want to tell you, “Don’t let go.”
I know what it’s like to jump without knowing what’s in the water below, but confident you know how to swim.
I know how rock bottom feels, and I know the strength it takes to climb out.
I know what it’s like to be compelled, to feel called, and to be reason you say, “no.”
I understand the pain of loneliness, loss, and defeat. I know what it’s like when it’s ten against one and you’ve only got enough strength for one more punch; what it’s like to only have one bullet left in the gun and too many targets.
I know doubt and addiction, and what just one more drink looks like; where one more minute of looking can take you.
I know what it’s like to be single, to be labeled, and to be a promise breaker.
I know what it’s like to live with scars, and how to hide them.
I know what it’s like to be loved.
I know how it feels to be angry at God.
I struggle with what “unconditionally” means.
And while I don’t understand grace and forgiveness, I know that they work and I know it’s a miracle.
I know you know all of this too. What makes us different is whether or not we feel alone with it.
On Monday I passed a man in the street I nearly stepped on before noticing him. He was so ragged and dirty, the layer of grime so thick on his skin, the earth and concrete hid him well. He sat cross-legged at the bus stop, a beard overtaking his face, his pants half-way around his waist. In his lap sat an aluminum plate I wouldn’t have even dared use to serve food to a dog. And when the light turned red at the intersection, this man with a beard and a soul and dirty skin would extend his arms out holding his plate where his hands used to be but only his wrists remained.
He appeared unable to speak, but when sound escaped his mouth, they were incomprehensible demands and exasperations — a man already gone mad from the sun and the rain, and sleeping on concrete. A man who must face the frustrations of life on his own, and he must face them without the ability to physically hold on.
Has it always been like this?
Is he simply the remnants of a man bruised and beaten, a soldier of war left behind for dead on the streets instead of the battlefield?
I keep wondering how alone he feels. Is there any amount of words or service anyone could do to make that man know he’s not alone? Or is he the exception? Is he the one person on the planet that will forever feel forgotten and believe it?
What was I supposed to do? Buy him food so he could eat it like a dog? I could pretend I didn’t see him, block his face from my mind and get to where I was going. But I couldn’t take him home, either, and bathe him, clothe him, and send him back out into the streets a few days later still without any hands to protect himself.
No one deserves that. No one deserves to sleep on the sidewalk. No one deserves to have their heart broken. No one deserves to hit bottom. No one deserves to be alone, to be hated, to be labeled, broken, and defeated.
But we are.
Because nobody said this was going to be easy.
But nobody said you had to do it alone either.
I may live in the darkness, but I am just naive enough to think that my light might shine bright enough for someone to see and find their way out.
I ran across the street and bought a box of donuts, waters, apple juice, and straws. I cracked all the lids and when I came back he was gone. He couldn’t have gotten far, but there was no sign that he was ever even there to begin with. And my heart sank for a man I did not know and may never meet again.
And part of me hopes still I may never meet him again so I can pretend to forget him. So I can get comfortable in my new home and have no trouble at all forgetting the things I’ve seen.
I wake up every day trying to remember to forget. I want ignorance and bliss and curtains and coffee mugs to keep me content.
I don’t want to know how bad it really is out there. I don’t want to leave the safety of my computer ever again.
But I will.
Because I have also seen faith in a faithless world. I have seen the Kingdom of Heaven on the streets. And I have felt God in the sunsets, in the waves of the Pacific, and in the mammoth giants of the Redwood Forests. Most importantly, I have felt Him in my heart.
I know we’ve probably never met and I’m a thousand miles away, but when you wake up in the morning you can rest assured that you’re not alone. That maybe, just maybe, someone out there knows how you feel.
I am not alone. Which means you’re not either.
God is out there, outside of your world, and He is waiting for you to seek Him, notice Him, experience Him.
Make It MAD was the story of my life as a single man in Los Angeles, homeless and trying to make it as writer who set out across the country to find his faith. Now this is the story of my life as a married man with a home in Los Angeles he doesn’t know how to use who is trying to keep his faith.
This is what it’s like to live with your eyes open.
Consider it your new pornography.
Copyright © January 2012 || Make It MAD