Eyes Anew … That Bookstore Grace

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As I think over the beautiful reaction to my post from last week about the man in the bookstore, I am praying for more opportunities to love people like that. I’ve had so many of those times … with those unknown, those hurting, those seeking love and acceptance… that I realize that all that pain I’ve gone through gave me a heart and soul blessing to see right into another’s place of pain and need. God gave me eyes anew to see into their soul through their eyes, their words, their breathing. Oh, how I claim that gift to love others. Love. Them. Hard.

I’ll be sharing more stories like that one. There are many. Stories that are His. Because He loves through me.

In case you missed that story last week, I’m revisiting it here. It inspires me so. I hope the same for you. Let’s love ALL IN.

THAT BOOKSTORE GRACE

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.

One of those gifts?

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.
~ Heather

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, please use the contact 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.

Would you walk the journey with us? Let’s love the world together! That would be such a blessing.

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7 thoughts on “Eyes Anew … That Bookstore Grace

  1. bluecottonmemory says:

    Just . . . WOW! I think we are soul-sister twins! Our struggles do give us a heart for others – and we reach out because we once and sometimes still do need others to reach for us. What a beautiful, God-inspired encounter! I see the struggle of those who turn their life around – and come face to face with a crop of the seeds of their choices – and it is so over-whelming. I think that is part of the journey – inviting Him to help us pull out those seeds and plant anew.

    Like

    • Heather Mertens @ 40YearWanderer says:

      Maryleigh,
      I just got a moment to read your post “Unable to Look God in the Eye.”

      Yes… after reading that… I’d say we are soul-sister twins. It’s a deeper connection than just a “wow”, deeper than “oooh, I get it”… it’s Spirit knowing Spirit deep.
      Can we connect further? I’d like that very much.

      Ps – my middle name is Leigh. ;)

      Like

  2. justhappeneduponthis says:

    I delight in the verve of your work here and your availability.

    A woman follows a preacher through a mall. Window shopping. Wandering. He realizes that she is tailing him and stops. “Can I help you?”

    “Forgive me Sir but I had noticed that wherever you went a Light followed you. I’m not kidding. Sounds crazy I know. Please tell me about that light. Please I am about to lose my marriage.”

    Be ready saints, ready to be surprised by ministry. Remember the universal priesthood of believers (Mark 16).

    Check out http://adopttheworld.blogspot.com/

    Like

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