Note from the Pastor
“Anxiety weights down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12: 25
I walked into one of my regular coffee shops this week and immediately noticed a new barista behind the bar. What stood out to me immediately were her numerous tattoos They were diverse and interesting and didn’t seem to follow any pattern. With a lot of people you can see the story they are telling by the art on their skin, but this story wasn’t very clear (which should have told me something in and of itself). She was very friendly as she took my order, so I decided to ask about a series of star tattoos on her arm. It was the one that looked to me like there was a story. Perhaps one for each of her siblings or for the number of chess tournaments she won.
As soon as I asked, her expression turned toward hurt. My question about her tattoo had hurt her somehow. After a moment she asked, “Do you have any tattoos?” I said “Yes.” Then she asked if I liked telling stories about them. I said, “Sure,”and proceeded to show her the tattoo Bri gave me as a wedding gift, and the one for our first anniversary. I showed her the tattoo I got during Carl's battle with leukemia, and I showed her the minion tattoo I had done in his memory.
Sheepishly, she told me that all of her visible were the product of the bad decisions. The stars I asked about? She told me they were done to her while passed out at a party. In an attempt to connect with her and show her she was not alone, I told her about a tattoo I received as the result of bad decisions in my youth. She laughed, and so did I.
Then she commented to me that even that bad decision tattoo of mine was okay because at least it had a good story to go with it. So many of hers, she said, seemed so pointless. They had no story, no meaning to her.
But the truth is, friends, whether with our mouths or in ink on flesh, we all have stories to tell. Some of them perhaps lean more toward the side of the cautionary tale, but we all have stories. And our stories, when we share them with each other, are a good way to remind ourselves that we are not alone - that we, indeed, belong to each other.
For the barista, it seemed to me that my good word cheered her heart, at least for a moment or two. But the stories we tell of our lives, the good words of God’s work in our lives, can help alleviate the anxiousness in the hearts of those around us - especially those who have managed to convince themselves that they are defined by past bad decisions and that they don’t have a story to tell. When we are honest about who we are and where we’ve been - the good and the bad - we witness to the good news that God is gracious, and God is faithful, and God’s arms are open to everyone.
Eagerly waiting to hear your stories,
Don’t forget to check out the “Grace Cubed” podcast wherever you get your podcasts, or go to www.anchor.fm/gracecubed
Cherry Hill United Methodist Church