Three and a half years ago, I began working at a group home with mentally handicapped people. I found myself an angry, tense, bitter, and cynical person. I was coming out of some heavy spiritual abuse from College. I was in a relationship with a girl, who was also very spiritually abusive towards, and, all of the tension of my life was creating a very dark and destructive person. I found myself powerless and limited. I had very little beauty inside of me, and, clang to opposition.
When I arrived at the group home, I found that the four individuals I was working with were in very similar positions as me, powerless and limited. However, their reality was so much different from my own. I saw how they used their powerlessness and being limited, and, display it to others in a remarkably beautiful way. Rather than clinging to what power they had, they displayed radical love to me in being powerless. They were incredibly vulnerable. Affirming me how much they needed me. Sometimes, telling me how much they needed me there to protect them, and, help them get ready. They loved me as I was, dark, destructive, angry, tense, bitter and cynical. They accepted me as I was. I found that in their ability to accept me as I was, that, when I was there I was able to accept and love myself as I was. They did not care about my spiritual doubts, concerns, questions, they cared about how I was, who I was, and, not whether or not I loved them, they loved me regardlessly. They are able to work within their own weaknesses and limited function and produce much beauty.
When I look at what was, and, still what is, I found that these faces of mentally handicapped became the faces of Jesus to me. It is Christ who loves me and accepts me in the same way. It is Christ who was powerful and limited on the Cross, in utter vulnerability. It was Christ who was utterly vulnerable in his life. When I look at love, love requires the ability to be wounded, this is why those who we do or have loved the most, have hurt us the most. The word compassion in Greek means to feel it in the bowels of your being, to risk hurting for another person, and, to risk being hurt by another person. It means to surrender yourself in love to the other person, even if they hurt you. That’s the type of sacrificial love we see in God.
Day in and day out I experience God in these powerless and limited men, but, like children, they have embraced it and produced radical love for me and others, rather than hiding their darkness, pain, and limitations like I have done and still do. This is a place where I find God every day in uncommon places.