Mercy Over Judgement

I wrote a facebook post yesterday and in it I mentioned that I just want to do what I feel is right and what God wants me to do, and one of my friends was like, "What God wants you to do???????????????????"


A zillion question marks, because it's weird, me and this God thing. People are totally cool with the unicorn thing (unicorns are the coolest, you guys, and totally real), but the God thing kind of freaks them out.

And to be honest, as I was going through the beginning stages of this no-good-terrible-very-bad-year, and people would be all, "I'm praying for you," and "God has a plan," and all of that crap, I was like, "you can seriously take your prayers and your God and shove it, because people suck and God isn't a thing and if God IS a thing, then God is an asshole and his plan is bullshit."

And then I had the summer of healing. I went to therapy. I went hiking. I slowed way down. I went to church (SO WEIRD). I narrowed my circle. I painted. I started the summer smashed flat, and as I picked myself up, I looked around. And I saw what God wanted me to see.

Let me just say...this is still total bullshit. I already told God that this is bullshit. Like - I have to be completely destroyed so I can see where I'm actually supposed to be, instead of where I thought I was supposed to be? And yeah, I'm so happy right now and better than ever but why the hell couldn't you just TELL ME? And God was all, "I tried, but you kept chasing after people who didn't need you. You wouldn't listen. So I knocked you down, because I knew you would see on the way back up." And I was like, "Fuck you, God. For real. This is bullshit."

Anyway, God and I are fighting, but he still showed me his face, and he did it through my friend Eugene.

I asked Eugene if it was ok if I could take his picture and write about him, and he said that would be great, and to make sure that I got a picture of him working.

I've seen Eugene around for years, and he was always super annoying. He always wants to do odd jobs, bum a cigarette, bum a quarter. He doesn't smell very good, he drinks too much, he doesn't make a lot of sense. Sometimes I'd give Eugene a dollar and then be like, "ok dude, now go away." (I didn't know his name because why would I?) Or sometimes I wouldn't give him a dollar because he's probably just going to buy booze with it, anyway. Eventually, Eugene quit coming around.

Until this summer.

Eugene came to my bar while I was working and asked if he could do some odd jobs. And I said yes. I don't know why. I never said yes before. And I felt an incredibly strong push to not just let this homeless guy do some work, hand him $10, and then feel really good about myself, because look at how nice I am, you guys! I gave a homeless guy money! That's not love. That's just...I mean...that's the minimum, really. Which is exactly what I always used to do.

So Eugene and I became friends. And Eugene shows up on a regular basis to do odd jobs, and on a regular basis somebody warns me about the "crazy homeless guy" hanging around by my back door.

Here's what I thought I knew about Eugene: He's homeless and he's super annoying. He always wants to do odd jobs, bum a cigarette, bum a quarter. He doesn't smell very good, he drinks too much, he doesn't make a lot of sense.

Here's what I know about my friend Eugene: He works really hard. If you ask him to be here at noon, he's here at noon. If you pay him in advance because he's having a bad week, he shows up the next week and works for what you gave him. He's proud of the work he does. He has a mental disability which causes him to talk in a manner that doesn't always make a lot of sense. He was on medication for it, but the medicine made his legs really restless at night - painful restlessness, so he couldn't sleep. It also wiped him out during the day, so he couldn't work. Eugene wants to work, so he quit taking the medicine, and as a result, he doesn't always make a lot of sense. Eugene walks with a limp and only has one good eye. He was shot in his other eye with some buckshot and he never sought treatment for it, and as a result, he lost the use of the eye. His leg is painful and his eye is painful, and drinking helps ease some of that pain. Because Eugene doesn't always make a lot of sense and he's often intoxicated, he gets in trouble with the law. And he's scared of going to jail because he only has one good eye, and that makes him an easy target. Jail also takes him away from his work, which upsets him, because he's really proud of his work. Eugene can be annoying sometimes, and we make jokes about it, because friends can make fun of each other when they get annoying. Sometimes Eugene makes fun of me, and I totally deserve it.Eugene doesn't smell very good and he knows it. He's homeless. He can find somewhere to sleep, but there's no where to take a shower. No where to do laundry.

Today, when Eugene was breaking down cardboard boxes for recycling, he stopped and said he was going to leave the boxes out on the street, because people always need boxes for moving.

Eugene and I are the same guy, you guys! I just want to help people, Eugene just wants to help people, neither of us really knows what we're doing, so we just do what we think is best.

When I talk about finding God, I'm not talking about the big scary, mystical bearded spirit in the sky , that everyone goes to church on Sundays to visit.

I'm talking about Eugene. And when God showed himself to me through Eugene, I was able to see everything and everyone else that he wanted me to see. I cannot save Eugene. I cannot save anyone. But I can love Eugene, and I can be his friend, and I can help him navigate through some things that might be easier for me to figure out than they are for him.

I love this band 'Flyleaf'. Specifically, I love their ex lead singer, Lacey Sturm. I listen to her music ALL of the time and I'm completely in love with it. There is a passage from one of her songs that resonates with me when I think about Eugene and some of the friends that I've made this summer.

Life floods in with a conquest
Life floods in with a new quest
Here's a voice for the voiceless 
and a song for the soulless
Life floods in.

People pass right by Eugene all of the time. I used to pass by Eugene - like he was invisible. But for some reason, people don't pass by me. I didn't want this year to play out the way that it did, but life flooded in and here's my new quest. I will use my voice for Eugene, and everyone like him that God puts on my path. He's not invisible. I won't let him be invisible.

And in return, Eugene will keep reminding me about judgement and about mercy. It is not my job to judge. It is my job to love and to have mercy. And let me be really honest with you - it's super easy for me to love Eugene and to be compassionate and to care for him. Like - I don't have any problem with that at all. I really like him.

It's really, REALLY difficult for me to love some of my neighbors and ex-friends and family members, to not judge them, to have mercy, to show compassion. There are still days that I wake up and I see something and I am just fucking PISSED off and bitter and I make a mental list of all of the things that are wrong with the people who treated me poorly and I get into "I'm better than them, anyway" mode...

...and here comes Eugene, reminding me about love and mercy and judgement and compassion, and I come back down.

Judgement is not my job. My job is to love and to show mercy, and to receive love and to receive mercy.

And that's what's going on with me and God.


Jennifer Bush said...

This is the good stuff. Your soul is a beautiful on, Jessica.

Karen Cassidy said...

Wow- thank you!

D Kindhart said...

This is beautiful writing that touched my soul.