The Call

Jun 17, 2018

by Rev. Terry Schjang, pastor of New Beginnings Worshiping Community, Denver Women's Correctional Facility 

A call came in at 11:20PM, but I didn’t answer it because of the hour and because I didn’t recognize the number. For some reason, the voicemail didn’t pop up on my phone until two days later, as sometimes happens in the mountains. “Pastor Terry, the boyfriend of a friend of my daughter’s was shot and killed last night by the police. He was a troubled young man from a troubled family.  They’re isolated and we’re all feeling so broken. Can you please do the funeral?”

Beyond the guilt of not having answered the phone that night, but choosing instead to sleep, beyond the frustration of having the message pop up two days late after other arrangements had been made, was the guilt of knowing that some tiny place inside of me was relieved that this time I would not be the one walking into the isolated and broken places. A two-day non-response on my part meant that this time, I had escaped, however unintentionally, opening up my heart to bleed with those who feel forgotten, forsaken and most vulnerable.  After all, I had sermons to write, and appointments to keep. I hadn’t time for more heartbreak.

But here’s the truth. I am heartbroken. In fact, I am simply broken.  And embracing that brokenness is part of what gives all of us who walk in the trenches of the broken and isolated and forgotten and forsaken the heart to keep walking with. Embracing our own brokenness opens a space with no limits for mercy and forgiveness. It opens our eyes to the proclivity of our broken world that would resort to incarceration of people suffering from mental illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and generations of desperate cycles of poverty, rather than dare to have our hearts broken as we answer another call to accompany those it is easier not to see.

We have a choice. We can continue to look away as we lock up and punish (and kill) those whose brokenness we can point to most easily, while denying our own brokenness. Perhaps that spares us a moment of heartbreak.  Perhaps it makes us feel stronger. Or we can admit with courage to our own fragility of heart that inevitably moves us to answer the call. The call.  That’s the one that turns us back to look directly into the face of all whom we would rather crush than come to know as our sisters and brothers in a broken world.  

Jesus calls for us to love one another. It begins with loving ourselves as we accept our own brokenness, not just our ability to be tough as we turn a blind eye. We have a choice. 

Category: Calling

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