He walked up to me and said, “I want what you’ve got!”
At that moment, I was sitting at a table at Dunkin’ Donuts, hovering over a steaming cup of regular coffee, trying to solve a dilemma I had been presented. When a friend of mine broke me out of my thoughts, wanting what I had. If only he knew.
“OK,” I replied, looking up slowly at him as I spoke. “How do you take it?” His face screwed itself into a visible question mark, and in a perplexed tone, he asked, “What?”
“Your coffee…Cream? Sugar? Black? Large? How do you take it?”
His laughter cut me short as he shook his head. “No, I don’t mean the coffee. I mean…I’m not sure what I mean,” he stammered. Continuing, he said, “The way you handled yourself a few minutes ago. That guy was off the hook, yelling at you. And you just stood there listening to him.” My friend’s eyes were wide open, his mouth agape looking at me in disbelief. “Then, you said something quietly to him, he stopped, and then he smiled. I want that!”
I knew what he was talking about. He was right. I had handled that one well. But two thoughts raced through my mind simultaneously. First, I had gotten that one right. “Progress but not perfection,” I silently reminded myself. Second, I half laughed to myself, I wonder if he would want what I have, if he knew what it took for me to get it. It really didn’t happen overnight.
This “new” me is what he was talking about. The me who could bring hope and healing with his words instead of pain, discomfort or embarrassment is what he was after, for himself. But the truth is that this new me is the one that is walking back from Emmaus to Jerusalem.
The Road to Emmaus
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the gospels, and perhaps even for those who are, the resurrection story of the Road to Emmaus (pronounced E- MAY-US), may be the most obscure. In short, after Jesus had been crucified and buried, most of his disciples ran for cover in various places, including two that left town. We don’t know much about them and their exact reason for leaving.
All we know is that while on their way, Jesus appeared to them. He spoke to them and had supper with them. Then, they recognized him. Only after he disappeared, did they really respond.
And what does this have to do with the “new” you?
I am one of those disciples. No, I’m not 2000 years old. Here’s what I mean. They had just been traumatized. They were sad, scared, depressed and in despair. And so, they ran away from Jerusalem towards Emmaus, to escape, to get away from the trauma and all that caused these negative feelings.
Like them, I have been traumatized. The trauma of my early life played a big part: serious health issues, abuse by someone I knew, obvious signs of my “birth defects”, and ridicule because of them left me depressed, and worse…feeling like I had no hope and that I was no one put me in a place of despair. Having a now skewed vision of myself, trauma fell upon trauma as I lived a life of self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and self-sabotage. So, I decided to escape. Having nowhere to go, I escaped inward. When I didn’t like what I saw there, I began drinking…I was on my way to Emmaus. And boy did I get coated in the dust of the road from that experience.
When the two disciples ran into Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognize him at first. He had to speak to them at length. They didn’t get it. We’re told that Jesus started anew and broke upon the Word from beginning to end, and they still didn’t get it. They were scared, depressed, hopeless, and thick.
Man was that ever me! My escaping also meant that I often couldn’t think clearly. So, if someone explained something to me, I either couldn’t understand them, didn’t trust them, or perhaps truly believed that what they had to say simply didn’t apply to me. In my mind, I was trash and getting worse. The words people shared seemed to have little to no meaning to me…they were – just words.
How interesting it is to note that the disciples didn’t see Jesus for who he was in anything that he said. Not one word seemed to sink into their thick skulls. One solitary action broke through the concrete like a jackhammer. He ate with them, and in the meal, he blessed and broke the bread. And that was it! When he acted, they recognized him, and then he was gone!
What a revelation it was for me, that Jesus had been speaking to me the whole time I had been trying to escape – speaking through many different people. It wasn’t until one Saturday night that I ran into an old friend (go figure) who had been where I was. It wasn’t his words that mattered. It was two things…his eyes looking into, and I felt perhaps through, me and the warmth of his embrace. No judgement for running away, no condemnation…just love as he put his arm around me as we walked as we had done when we were in high school.
Can you imagine? Jesus breaks the bread, the disciples finally figure out who he is, and poof, he’s gone! Startled they begin looking for him, but can’t seem to find him. Then they say, “Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke?” And then, they go back to Jerusalem to join the rest of the disciples.
As strange as it seems, shortly after our encounter and me realizing what he had done for me, life took my friend in a new and exciting direction. I seldom see him anymore. I know he’s still around. Every once-in-a-while, I see posts on Facebook about him or by him, so he is present to me – even if at a distance. He’s still there encouraging me, supporting me and praying for me. But the truth is I was the one who ran away from my life, and only I can return to it. I have…and I am.
Returning to Jerusalem
So now, like those two disciples, each day I take another step on the road back to Jerusalem. I have had to face the pain, the resentments, and the regrets. Where the road to Emmaus was one of fearful flight and shame, the road to Jerusalem has been one of healing and of hope. On this road, I have learned that I was always loved, even if I didn’t see, hear, or feel it. In surrendering to love, and letting someone love me, I have been set free!
You want what I’ve got?
I looked back at my amazed friend in Dunkin’ Donuts. Standing up, I said, “Let’s take a little walk.” And I put my arm around him. I broke myself open for him. And as we walked his eyes grew open wide.
You want what I’ve got?
If you do, then walk with me back to Jerusalem through this blog. Together, let’s encounter God. Be open to seeing and hearing him so you can acknowledge what He’s offering you. Then in a spirit of gratitude accept the gift of love freely given, a love that sets us free.
You want what I’ve got?
Walk with me.