Bookstore Grace {Eyes Anew}

I’m used to walking alone. I’ve always been an outsider. For as long as I can remember, literally, I’ve been the invisible one, the one that the crowd didn’t notice. Funny thing is certain people in the crowd were drawn to me … like a magnet … made of old soul love.

It’s been Him. It’s always been Him. He’s guided me through that crowd to the ones I was meant to touch and be touched by. It’s always been Jesus.

I’m the one that strangers strike up conversations with; and I’m talking light hearted ones and deep, life altering ones. I’ve always joked “There’s a sign on my forehead that reads ‘Talk to me. I’ll listen.’” But after years ~ no, decades ~ of that I started to realize what a gift He had given me. I’ve said many times that I was born with a mouth ~ I know it! ~ and so why not use it for Him! Life and death are in that tongue… so I had better use it for life.

Then… the revelation… the heart thumping revelation…

Use your gifts to love others.

We can each be a leader right where we are. Lead a love revolution. Use our gifts.

One of those gifts for me?

My forehead sign.

It must really read, “I love. Tell me about it.”

I’ve had so many of these encounters that I can’t even count them. No need! I sometimes don’t even remember the words, but it is then I know for sure that God is speaking Love through me. Because that’s what I pray the entire time. Each minute is swelled up with anticipation that my spirit knows is producing a beautiful seed. One that only He can nurture and grow.

Because I love.

I will never forget the time I was in another state with my daughter for a couple weeks at a ballet intensive training venture. It was that moment. That one moment in time. Our worlds collided… his and mine.

My daughter and I were at a large bookstore, one of those that every city has… at which sitting down to read is not only accepted but encouraged. So people were quite everywhere. She and I were in the “Christian” section. My daughter and I both love to read, so bookstores are like our amusement parks.

That day however I went on a ride like I had not been on yet.

An older gentleman meandered next to us in the aisle ~ {probably had been wandering life at least 10 years longer than my 40 years wandering and probably had been wandering in that section many times before like I had}.

He invited me into small talk. I looked up and answered with a smile. But then… heart heavy… spilled out… like a waterfall his emotions and concerns were all over that space.

He told me ~ and my forehead sign ~ that he was a Christ follower and about how he had been a homosexual much of his life. He spoke with such beautiful concern that my ears were affixed and my forehead sign was no burden. He told me that when he gave his life to Christ that he also gave up his homosexual life choices. He said he knew that was what God wanted according to His Scripture.

I just listened…
while praying …

God, give me the words he needs. Love Him through me.

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I listened as he told me that he wanted to give up his lifestyle; he had no regrets because he wanted to follow Jesus in all ways.

He was paying a price for obedience however. He was troubled deeply … I could hear in his voice that sadness that engulfs all else … troubled. People in his church were ignoring him and treating him terribly because he used to be homosexual.

My heart ached for him. I could feel it beating nearly out of my chest. I was a bit nervous as most would be if a stranger began spilling their life out in huge God-sized pieces. I was a bit nervous because he was a stranger.

But I prayed. And remembered … he’s a brother.

So as he shared his broken heart about not being accepted because of his past, I heard. I heard God.

Tell him.

My listening ears were paralleling my listening heart. I was not there to judge him then … nor judge his past… nor his future.

I was there… to speak truth into his life. And it appeared I might be the only one in his life doing just that. So…

I gave him what my heart felt ~ literally and figuratively since my heart beats in time with people who share deepness with me.

“I hear your pain, ” I told him. “I hear you say that you read in God’s Word that your previous lifestyle was a sin that you wanted to choose to leave behind.”

It was his choice. He needed that acknowledged. He needed to hear compassion. So that’s what I gave him. Right there in the middle of that giant bookstore.

“I wish I could tell you that all Christians will be forgiving. But some won’t. You must know you are forgiven. You must know you are loved. And you must not let a few people, who have had sin of their own and probably still do, bring you down.”

He told me he didn’t want to quit going to church there because he believed God wanted him there. I believe that too. Someone was going to get loved by that man. Someone was going to eventually wake up to their prejudice and see a beautiful soul looking them back in the face. And that beautiful soul… that man in the bookstore… was going to see the grace of God manifest in another person who could deny him no more.

He thanked me for the rest of what I shared with him. I said, “It’s God.”

And I knew it was.
He knew it was.

I did not see a sinner.
I did not see a homosexual.
I did not see a man who had a past he was not happy with.

I saw a man who was hurt by a community that claimed to love everyone.
I saw a man who wanted every bit of Jesus.
I saw brokenness that needed love to seal up the wounded heart.

I saw a man who needed God and who knew it.

Nothing else mattered.
Nothing.

Let us love one another right where we are, friends. Let us love one another right there in the bookstore. Right where they need to find love.

I realized I needed a blessing that day too. The blessing of loving another person in a profound way. That, my friends, is pure acceptance… loving others as God loves them.

Live blessed.
Love. One. Another.
~

This story will be included with other life changing stories ~ along with discussion ~ in my book Live. Learn. Love. – Q&A for the Soul. Let’s be ALL IN.

If you’d like to learn more about the book, there’s a link above. The prayer is that it goes around the world and back wrapped in a God-hug finding those looking for more of the ultimate Love.
I’m so blessed you joined me today! You can get my posts here so we can love ALL IN together. ❤️

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17 thoughts on “Bookstore Grace {Eyes Anew}

  1. seespeakhearmama says:

    It’s 4:00 am in NYC and I believe I woke up to read your words. Everything about the gentleman you describe reminds me of a dear friend as have. With the exception of one thing…I believe my friend is not so much judged for his former sins as he is plagued by them. He loves God..whole-heartedly and with such passion but struggles because the part of his life he’s chosen to release to follow Christ is still part of him on a daily basis. I think he struggles deeply and it makes his walk unfulfilling. Heather, join me in prayer for him. It’s hard to see anyone live like this and he’s done it for years. I also know he’s not alone. Tough topic needing so much grace and God-sized love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather Mertens @ 40YearWanderer says:

      Lisha,
      Your words confirm that I am doing exactly what He has called me to do. That He works through my words and my love for others wells up in me with such thanksgiving that I cry real tears of joy.
      I will pray for your friend. What a hard struggle to bear. I will pray that he finds and lingers on those things around him, those people around him ~ like you my lovely heart friend ~ that are God’s love manifested.
      <3

      Like

  2. bunnyb1802 says:

    Heather, wow, I was so moved by this account. There is such a desperate need for love and acceptance in our world. I’m so glad that you were able to wrap God’s words around that beloved man like a God hug. I pray that, wherever he is right now, he has finally found grace from another member of his church and that the others follow. How can we claim to love the lost if we can’t even love our own? My heart aches for that man.

    Seespeakhearmamma – Likewise with your friend, again my heart goes out to him for his struggle. Sometimes, as hard as it is to accept, God walks us through a gradual process and, as we are worked on in some areas, the change is slow in coming as the battle of the mind ensues. It’s that renewal of the mind. I have sins that even now I struggle with mentally on a daily basis but it throws me onto Christ’s mercy. Remember Paul and the thorn in his flesh.? It keeps us weak so that we rely on God.
    But I will stand with you and pray that this chap comes to know renewal and victory in that area of his life. As you say, a tough topic and the need for grace and God-sized love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather Mertens @ 40YearWanderer says:

      Caroline,
      Thank you ever so sweetly, my friend. My heart aches for him too. That was nearly 4 years ago, and the ache is still felt in my hope for him.
      And thank you for the prayers. Also I really appreciate your comment of prayer to Seespeakhearmamma (that’s Lisha and she is a good friend of mine with a beautiful blog) – she will find it a blessing as will her friend… even if he never knows we are praying.
      Much love,
      Heather

      Like

  3. imconfident says:

    God has given you gifts of compassion and understanding. People sense this and seem to know that you are willing to listen and impart words of wisdom. I often feel like I have a sign on my forehead too because people are always approaching me and telling me their life stories even though they don’t know me very well. It is definitely a gift and it certainly has its rewards for both parties! Treasure it. I sure do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Annie B says:

    I love this story – this truth – your love. So I prayed and remembered he’s a brother – so beautiful. It saddens me that others will not love him – he’s even left behind his trouble in that area. Jesus loved us “even while we were still sinners.” Woe to those who would do or offer any less. Woe!

    Liked by 1 person

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