Thursday, December 19, 2013

laughing at Jesus

{photo by jennifer upton}
I remember the first time I went to the mission. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember it was cold. I was with my grandfather and his friend, a chaplain whose name I can't recall. I know I was young.

and I remember the first time I ever heard someone laugh at the name of Jesus.

I had never seen a prostitute before. I don't think I even knew what the word meant. but I remember her clothes :: black leather jacket, hot pink shirt that plunged lower than anything I had ever seen. I remember her hair, box-blonde with obvious dark roots, piled up on top of her head. I remember the cigarette dangling from her fingers.

she was sitting behind me on the plastic chairs. the chaplain asked, when you hear the name Jesus, what do you think? and the woman laughed and screamed, holy schmoly. effing Christians!

the chaplain kept in stride, never breaking for a second. I remember that. he pointed to her and repeated the first part of her words like a teacher accepting answers from a crowd of boisterous students, glad they were speaking at all.

I don't remember anything else that was said after that. 

I had never heard someone respond that way to Jesus. I never even knew that existed, never knew that people thought that way about Christians. I was confused, hurt, a little girl who had grown up with Jesus from day one and never even dreamed that someone wouldn't like Him. why didn't she love Christians?

{photo by jennifer upton}
and then I grew up. and I started seeing that woman more often.

obviously it wasn't the same face. but the eyes were identical. I saw her everywhere, in crowds and in churches. I found her in the supermarket. I noticed her at the post office. I realized that I was friends with her.

and now I understand that laughter. I hear it differently. it was mocking, caustic, and was laden with so much pain. it was the sound of a woman who had been slapped and kicked and knocked down a thousand times, had reached out her hand, and had someone spit in her face.

she had been given up on by the ones who were supposed to be the hands and the feet. I don't know every step she took. but she is familiar to me now. her story is one I understand, her words are ones I completely comprehend.

He didn't come for us to look down, to refuse to meet the eyes of humanity. He was born for lifting up. for getting dirty. for putting on skin and blood and pain. He touched.

can't we?


  1. Rachel Lee, I am proud of you as my daughter. You shared beautifully your own experience as a little girl-your interpretation then and the meaning now. You have written about what God cares about... caring about the hurting.



  2. The word that came to my mind after finishing reading your heartfelt story is "Pow!" and I sensed that you delivered a powerful blow to the spirit of pride and self-righteousness in the Body of Christ. I really feel your words delivered a death blow to a Pharasaic spirit.

    Your words are so meaningful to me, because as a young child our family drove through an inner city, which was a unique experience for us. My mother pointed out some street walkers and said they were "prostitutes" in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. As if they were bad people. I remember speaking up in their defense.

    Years later, I had become one of the self-righteous, myself, wordlessly and thoughtlessly pointing out the errors of others, in my own judgment. My critical thoughts cast flaming arrows into their hearts, even though I rarely ever gave utterance with my tongue.

    God has had to deal with me in strong ways to break that spirit of pride in me. But it wasn't in me, as a little girl. I picked it up... as so many of us do. Maybe the "pow" was for any remaining spirit of judgment in my own heart. Nevertheless, it came through loud and clear!

    Thanks for sharing this story, Rachel!

  3. To be Jesus with skin on...yes! We weren't created to be neat, clean, and comfortable, and oh how I love comfortable. Beautiful words.

  4. Thank you for this reminder. So very important to keep our eyes out for those that are hurting like this.

  5. I really enjoyed this post, thanks!

  6. amen. smiles...i was working on some neighborhood refurbishments in pittsburgh several years ago...on the street many of the prostitutes walked down to get to work...ha...was a few fun conversations...they were happy to see some putting back into the community though and more than willing to talk....


I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon