Warning: Today’s post contains course, vulgar, ugly, and profane language that will (and should be) offensive to many. It is not intended to shock, alienate, offend, or provoke; but merely to expose and enlighten. If you’re easily offended, please stop here. If not, please proceed with grace and discretion.
I live near an elementary school, and today on my morning run I noticed the school sign on the front lawn, pictured at the head of this post. The following is the result of that sighting:
Exhibit A: “Bitch, ho, whore, slut, skank, fag, faggot, homo, queer, tranny, lesbo, dyke, nerd, geek, weirdo, loser, retard, dumb, stupid, idiot, bat-crap crazy, psycho, wetback, spic, fat, fatty, fat-so, pervert, towel-head, camel jockey, sand monkey, worthless, useless, hopeless, waste of space, drunk, alky, druggie, junkie, crack-head, crack-whore, meth-head, hillbilly, redneck, bum, bastard, half-breed, bigot, Nazi, fascist, racist, infidel, heathen, Buddhahead, chink, chigger, Jew-bag, gringo, goody-two-shoes, Jesus freak, son-of-a-bitch, darky, spook, coon, cracker, whitey, honkey, asshole, prick, tool, pussy, coward, weakling, sissy, cry-baby, douche, douche-bag, scumbag, creep, shit-for-brains …” (I’m glad that’s over … now I think I’ll go take a very long, very hot shower). As if this list were not ugly enough already, there are actually a few obvious names that I omitted; as they are SO offensive that I couldn’t bring myself to put them in print. In the interest of salvaging a small shred of decency, I’ll leave those to your imagination.
Exhibit A is a partial list of some of the names we’ve all heard one person, (that is, a human being who is imbued with the image of the divine), pin upon another person, (who is equally imbued with the divine spark). To my sorrow, I fear that I’ve heard some of these same venomous and deadly words spill from my own mouth (or echo in my own mind) as well … always with devastating, often irreparable result.
Seeing that sign today set me to thinking not only about the names themselves, but also about why we would spew such venom upon another or others. Generally, I believe we do so intending to injure, intimidate, diminish, demean, discount, marginalize, embarrass, humiliate, bully, or manipulate. When we do this, we essentially take the entirety of an immeasurably complex human being, (one constituted of an infinite number of thoughts, feelings, experiences, qualities, chemicals, cells, atoms, hopes, dreams, successes, fears, failures, questions, answers, achievements, and more); and reduce them down to one single attribute … one that is ugly, hurtful, bereft of dignity; and aimed at stripping another carrier of the image of a kind, gracious, good and loving God of all redeeming human (and yes, divine) worth. And why would we do such a thing? I don’t think I can provide a very satisfying explanation other than to suggest that when we do so, like kids on the schoolyard, we’re just quite simply … blind. I think the school sign was just a gentle reminder to all of us to … well … just open our eyes.
Fortunately, God’s eyes are open … always; and He is not blind … ever. He sees all of us in a different light … the light of a love and grace that cannot be measured. And this love, this grace, dispensed by and through a shockingly humble Savior, compels Him to do a little name-calling of His own. Exhibit B is a brief (and partial) sampling of some of His favorites.
Exhibit B: “Worthwhile, treasured, delightful, washed, pure as the fresh-driven snow, good, clean, priceless, protected, forgiven, not forgotten, perfected, adopted, beautiful, found, filled with dignity, salvageable, repairable, eminently fascinating, loveable, brilliant, a shining star, the light of the world, the salt of the earth, daughter, son, princess, prince, friend, apple of my eye, beloved, pearl of great price, capable of recovery, charming, redeemable, likeable, irresistible, worth searching for, worth finding, worth having, worth keeping, worth hearing, worth remembering, worth spending time with, worth saving, worth dying for …”
These are but a few of the names that the Almighty chooses to pin on you and me … as well as every single individual whom any of us have ever pinned with any of the refuse from Exhibit A … quite a contrast.