During treatment, we often needed a central place where we could have a change of scenery, walk around a little, and keep the girls entertained, and malls became our venue of choice. In the past year, I have learned to love malls, each mall for different reasons. I like Annapolis because it’s all one floor, and I don’t have to stuff a double stroller into a crowded elevator to get around. But Tyson’s is nice because they have a better food selection – there is this Chinese noodle shop there that is incredibly good, across from the McDonald’s on the bottom floor. Try it, you seriously won’t regret it.
Last month I went to Tyson’s, and I saw something that I’ll never forget. There was this woman pushing a small girl in a wheelchair/stroller – the girl was all bundled up in blankets, with just her face showing, but I’ll never forget that face. Some terrible abnormality had scarred her, a blasted hole where her nose and sinuses should have been. Now, I’m not a squeamish person at all, but I was honestly repulsed and frightened by her, and had to look away in disgust. I’m not even sure if this girl mentally was conscious – she showed no emotion, moved not at all. I felt a terrible sorrow for this girl, and at the same time, a terrible shame for my reaction.
But counterbalancing this image was the woman who was pushing the wheelchair, her mother, caregiver, nurse, I have no idea who she was. This woman smiled peacefully and continuously as she pushed this broken child through the mall, down hallways, into elevators, as if completely oblivious to the girl’s condition, and the stares of everyone who passed by, including mine. Her demeanor radiated acceptance, as if to say, “I’m not ashamed of this child, and I’m happy to be with her.” Such a combination of such disparate ideas into a single image: the shocking brokenness of this child, and the total acceptance of the one who supported her. I have never seen anything like it: such love for one who looked so unlovable.
I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a more perfect image of how God loves and accepts us. In Romans it says that while we were still enemies, Christ died for us. But that word for enemies is so dry. The word in Greek for enemies is echthros, which is derived from the word for “hate”. Echthros has both passive or active meanings: something can be echthros in the way it looks (“odious”), or also, in the way that it behaves or in what it does (“hateful”). So in reality, what that passage from Romans 5 is saying that while we were still odious, hateful, revolting, terrible in appearance or behavior…Christ still demonstrated his love for us by dying on the cross.
It is a miracle that despite the sin that makes me so hateful, God loves me as he does.