You, who lies hunched on the ground.
You, with the broken bones and crushed spirit, with the heart collapsed into your sunken chest.
You, upon whom we have cast our stones.
Stand up and dust yourself off.
You think you don’t deserve to, I know.
You think the stones we have cast are fair and just.
In fact, you think there will never be enough stones to cover your shame—as if your flawed humanity should sentence you to a lifetime of punishment. Of recompense. Of judgment.
Your life isn’t a score card that deems you right or wrong, good or bad, innocent or guilty. It is not for us to judge based on one chapter of your life which we skim over, while never bothering to read the entire book.
Your life is a story—a beautiful allegory of your flesh and soul and mind and body and heart and spirit. It is filled with pages of your journey, of the paths you have chosen and the corners you have turned and the choices you have made when you’ve had no other options. It is your victories and triumphs, your defeats, your regrets, your moments of joy and pain.
There will always be a chapter, somewhere in the middle, where everything goes wrong. Maybe not just one. A time when things fall apart, mistakes are made, wrongs are done. Because this is the story of your humanity. This is your life. The part where you stumble, you fall, you f*ck everything up by the glorious work of your own two hands.
Sadly, these are also the chapters we find it easy to judge you upon. Not because you deserve judgment. No, dear heart, you deserve to be loved even harder when you are falling apart. But we struggle to know how to do this, nor do we want to learn. Mostly, we just want to judge. For how much more satiating to show judgment and wrath over grace and understanding.
We will read only these chapters and define you by them; bind you to them. We will keep them open on the pages smeared with your shame, hold them up to you time and time again. And when you close your eyes against the pain, we will read the words out loud. Not just for you to hear. But for the world to hear also, that our judgment may be justified and our stones may be thrown.
We desire to imprison you, because we are imprisoned. Imprisoned by our bitterness, our acidity, our petulance, our misery. We judge because we are not free, and therefore have no capability to free another.
But we cannot judge what we do not know. We have never read your story. We have never turned your pages. We have never walked in your shoes. And indeed, we never could. For it has taken more than we will ever know for you to overcome your adversaries. More strength, courage, determination and character than we will ever possess.
We may not be free, but you are.
That chapter is finished, and your story continues, and it is glorious in all its brokenness, in all its defeat, in all its regret; and indeed, all of its triumph.
You no longer belong in that chapter.
And you no longer belong under the weight of stones we cast upon you.
You never did.
Stand up and dust yourself off. Turn the page. Your story is not over—not even close.
You’re only just getting to the best part.
Author: Kathy Parker
Image: Shan Sheehan/ Flickr
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren