"Doesn't it just... fill you with hope?" Keri asks me as we walk slowly out the front doors. I can tell we're both a little reluctant to leave.
And no wonder. It's been one of those days, where we get to glimpse behind the curtain. The intangible became tangible. As we listened to their stories, it was clear my heart wasn't the only one melting and leaking out my eyes.
The girls of Saving Grace have lived through heartbreak I can't even imagine. They've suffered neglect, abuse, homelessness, and so much more. But when I hug them or see their faces smiling back at me in a video or a picture... that's not what I see.
I see a miracle.
I see SO. MUCH. HOPE.
Mary DeMuth is the keynote speaker for the afternoon. And even though I've heard her say it before, I write it down again, "Good community is what heals us from bad community."
I nod because I know it's true. Because I've lived it.
But I also know this. It takes boatloads of courage to even begin to open yourself back up to something that your experience has told you will only cripple you.
It takes tiny seeds of love and trust planted in the darkest places. It takes buckets of grace, soaking and softening the hard heart-ground. And it takes time. A lot of time.
But then, there are days like today. When you get to see what's been growing under the surface all this time.
When hope blooms. And it's so beautiful it makes you cry.
I can't stop thinking about their faces and their stories as I drive home. I turn Mary's words over again in my mind, "What has wounded us is what heals us."
At the same time, Third Day is singing quietly in the background, and I finally register what they're saying.
"By His wounds, we are healed."
Tomorrow is Good Friday. The name almost feels like a contradiction. Just like some of our stories.
We bleed and we break, until it feels like think nothing will ever be able to put us back together.
And then, we find ourselves face to face with the ugly questions, "Really? This thing? THIS thing that almost killed me? This is your idea of healing? You call this good? I don't get it."
Good Friday. The day God let himself be bloodied and broken, until there was nothing left. Until it literally killed him.
And we know what comes next, so maybe we forget to stop and let it soak in for a minute.
By His wounds, we are healed.
But they weren't really His wounds were they? They were ours.
Every painful step. Every drop of blood. Every nail driven into the deep places. Because of our brokenness. Because we thought we knew better than God. Because we were bleeding and breaking... and nothing could ever put us back together.
Except? His wounds.
Nothing less than His blood would do. So he opened up his veins and let it all spill. Right into our wounds.
Pain is one of those things it takes a long time to make sense of. Quite honestly, sometimes it never makes sense.
But today, I'm actually okay with that. Because that's what makes redemption so powerful.
It doesn't make sense to me that God can take something so brutal and make it beautiful.
But He does it anyway.
"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed."
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NLT)