Unfair Trade

Mar 31

Unfair Trade

If you are a good person, if you are the type that has a heart for justice and tries your best to always be fair and takes responsibility for your actions, you know the feeling when you screw up. You know guilt, you know regret. And you will not hide or run away from the consequences of your actions. You will face them, you will pay for them. And if you are like me, someone who has made very bad choices in life and lost dreams and treasures for a bunch of different reasons (all related to personal mistakes one way or another), you know how heavy the world and life feels the next morning on. Yeah, sometimes I had other people’s “help”. Not always I was the one and only responsible for the outcome. But, as I said in the beginning, if you are, in general, a good person and believe in doing what’s right, you will admit that, no matter how much influence or “help” you got from others to get into that dark pit, it was ultimately your fault.


Oh, man! It’s like you have your personal apocalypse. Life as you know is over. You keep running in your head different scenarios, ways to move on, to survive the tsunami that hit you. None of them are remotely close to what you wanted your life to look like. You go from despair to hardening your heart, maybe multiple times. It’s kind of like after an explosion when you get deaf and you can’t really respond to what is going on around you. You sink…deep. You feel drunk in pain and can only manage to do the things your body and mind memorized and can do without much effort. Time goes by in a weird way. You can’t really tell the difference between day and night. I guess that’s what some call misery.


You know, the worst part is when you realize you did it. You, with your own legs, walked towards the very thing that took your life away, your dreams, your joy and whatever else. Now I can understand why some people are so bitter, sarcastic, angry, addicted. I mean, how else are you supposed to live life in a dark cold pit, right?


But then… Out of nowhere… It starts to change. I mean, I heard all my life about God’s power to change situations. I’ve heard crazy testimonies of people who had the worst and craziest pasts. The kind of thing you see in movies and read in books. But when it happens to you, you can only think about the movies with sad endings, you never put yourself in the happy ending ones. Ever. Pain can be overwhelming… Pain is a powerful thing. It changes you. But so does Jesus’ blood. But I didn’t understand that at that time. I mean, who does? We all grew up learning cause and consequence, and that’s what we expect.


You see, THAT, right there, is the valley of the shadow of death described in Psalm 23. You move through darkness choosing to believe it’s not the end, even when you have no idea how it could not be the end. Your end. There were moments I could feel God’s presence carrying me. There were moments I was not really aware of Him, at all. There were soooo many times when I just worshiped for hours until the broken pieces inside of me got back to their places, when my mind could operate again.


My point is, it did not make sense that I would ever have a second chance. That there was anything good after the hell I was living. To this day, maaaany times I look around me and I can barely believe where I am and how things are. To be honest, I know people who seem to have done, at least apparently, everything right in some areas of their lives and didn’t get the treasures I’ve got. I can tell you names of the ones I am pretty sure deserved the life I have more than I do. They didn’t make the bad decisions I have made and they haven’t got their first shot in areas I’ve got a second chance already. An undeserved second chance. I think there are people really angry at me and God and think “how come she got it and I didn’t?!” I know for a fact, and I hear it all the time, that a lot of people think I have something special they don’t. Oh, I can GUARANTEE it is NOT about me. I feel like that adulterous woman thrown at Jesus feet who He did not condemn. I feel like Barabbas who walked away free.


It is getting stronger and more often a certain feeling I don’t know how to name… I’ll try to explain. There is a movie scene that comes to my mind that may help. The scene takes place in a prison cell where this guy is about to be hung for a crime he did not commit and he has the chance to walk away if he tells the truth about who he is but that would cost a lot to the people he loves. The story is about this guy who takes the place of someone else who (I think) died at war where both fought. They look alike and he ends up taking the place of the guy who died at war. He goes back to that man’s house, family and all that. The thing is, the wife knows it’s not him, but because women at that time relied a lot on man to survive in society, she lets him stay and doesn’t tell anyone he isn’t her husband. Time goes by and she realizes he is a good man and falls in love with him. He also starts giving land to black people who were not valued at that time. He changes the lives of many people, people who would have never had anything if it hadn’t been for him. Well… One day people find out the man everyone believes he is had committed a crime to which the sentence was death by hanging. And there he is, in a prison cell with his now wife arguing about what to do. She wants him to tell everyone the truth about who he is and live. He won’t agree with that because that would make her an adulterous woman (and be considered garbage to that society) and all the black people to lose their properties and houses because the documents he had signed wouldn’t have any value. He decides to take his secret to the grave. But he asks her to be there while he is being hung, otherwise he would not have the courage to do it. She says no. She can’t bare it. He begs. The next day he is there about to die. He looks around, seeks her face as she runs (last minute change of heart) through the crowd. They lock eyes as all of those who loved him also watch. And THAT is the feeling.


I am that woman. I feel what she feels whenever I sing that Jesus paid my ransom. Every time I take communion. Every Christmas. Every Easter. Every time I look at my baby boy. Every time my husband comes home from work or when I wake up in the middle of the night and see him sleeping next to me. Every time I look around me and see the house I live in and so many other amazing things Jesus paid the price for me to have and God has restored and given me, for free, when I did not deserve. Just today I was harvesting the last grapes from the vine that we have in our backyard, which we did not plant and yet we are eating its fruits. When I think about my mom who could have died of cancer, but lived. My husband who I could have never met had he died of cancer as well years before I saw him for the first time. When I remember my midwife saying that my baby was born by a miracle because when they pulled out the placenta they saw the small part of it that had done all the job during my pregnancy while the rest looked pretty bad and yet here he is, perfectly healthy, beautiful. Why? I don’t know. I know people who lost loved ones to cancer. I know women who lost their babies in their wombs and out. I know people who never found love, who never had kids, who never got married, who have no family, no home, who have nothing. That’s the scandal of the cross. That the adulterous woman gets a second chance. That Barabbas walks away free. That we have what we have despite of all our worst mistakes just because we let Jesus in.


God’s goodness is crushing me. Every time I see He is good to me when He didn’t have to it messes me up. If He had decided to do what’s fair, I would be finished. No. God is not fair. If he was, we would all be dead and in hell. Yes, He is just. But who can understand his justice? The one person who did not deserve to die died to pay for our mistakes and God was ok with it. And because Jesus died He has the right to a reward and I get to benefit from it. I get to drive the car that He paid for, I get to live in a house I could have never afforded, I get to have a family even after a disastrous marriage, I get to have a healthy baby even with a placenta that barely worked, I get to have my mom alive and well to see it all, an amazing husband and all the other things that have been added to me. WHY? It is not fair! I feel like that woman from the movie, eyes locked in her beloved as he gives his life for her when he could have walked away and let her face hell on earth. That’s why I so many times break into tears when I sing songs like “let the king of my heart be the shadow where I hide, the ransom for my life” and “ You owe me nothing. I deserve hell, you owe me nothing, but you’ve given me mercy” and oh man… The best one… “Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer, but this I know with all my heart, his wounds have paid my ransom”. It makes me think about women sold as prostitutes, trying to pay their debt to be free. Jesus paid my ransom. Jesus paid OUR ransom. An unfair trade. It destroys my bad theology. It breaks my religion. And what am I left with? “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure”. I am the wretch. I am the treasure.

One comment

  1. Cyndi /

    That movie rocked me too. It grips the soul. Miss you!

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