A sixteen year old girl with marks on her arms read some words late one night. They were posted on MySpace of all places, and reading them shaped so much of her life from then on. She was beginning to think that perhaps God was for her, not against her. She was beginning to consider that the fight to live without cuts on her arm would be worth it. But it’s hard to find healing when you don’t know how to get there. It’s hard to accept love when you feel so damn alone.
This girl – who was me, if you haven’t yet worked that out – read the words that were the foundation for To Write Love On Her Arms. These are some of the words I read.
We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she’s known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true.
We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.
These words spoke a hope into my life that I hadn’t dared to have before. I wanted to be loved in this way and I wanted to love like that too. I wanted all of that. I wanted to be a lover bold in broken places, but I had no love to give those days. This story spoke of Switchfoot, whose music has made up so much of the soundtrack of my Christian life since. This story spoke of Don Miller, whose book Blue Like Jazz placed the foundation for a faith based in relationship with God, not relationship with rules. This story is the reason that ‘love’ is tattooed on the arm that once bore the marks of self-harm.
And I know. I know that words do not have the power to change us completely, but this one story is littered with words and ideas that God used to shape so much of my character, and He used to heal me of the wounds that would otherwise still be gaping open.
Ten years ago the To Write Love On Her Arms story was born. Ten years ago, I read words and took a deep breath between tears because I so desperately wanted that – I wanted to be okay, I wanted to be loved, I wanted to love, and I wanted to be part of what God would do if I would just dare be the answer to someone else’s prayers.
Ten years ago, words that still make me weep were written. I hope that you, too, have words that make you weep with hopefulness. I hope that you celebrate those words. I hope you celebrate the stories behind them and the stories that came from them.