You’d be Surprised.

I decided to repost the piece I wrote for POTSC last week. It’s a real honor to partner with these guys, and I sincerely hope you’ll go check them out and be challenged by their Never Beyond series. Sorry if you’ve already seen this, but as soon as it hit the interwebz, my inbox began to fill up. Seemed that a lot of people were asking “How do you do that?! How do you put that stuff out there and not want to crawl in a hole and die?” And I really want to answer that question (plus a few more). But first, this, to give some context to those who may have missed it:

You’d be surprised.

The setting sun cast an orangey-pink glow against the dirt-bag SurfWind motel. A couple of hookers and a drunk lingered by the corner of the building and a guy leaned against the flag pole with a cigarette.

Enjoying a happy ending smoke, I suppose.

I joked, “If herpes was a color, it’d be that orangey-pink.” But my friend stayed quiet in the drivers seat. Stupidly, I kept talking, sharing my disgust for the scene outside my window, “You’ve gotta be some kind of desperate to pay for sex. Who does that, anyway? What kind of guy uses a hooker?!”

“You’d be surprised…” is all he said.

And I assumed he was talking about the mayor of San Francisco…or Kevin Bacon, or something.

But that moment in front of the SurfWind motel came back in a flood of understanding a year later, when my friend said he needed to talk and I found him lying on the floor, just a pile of tears and snot, and I heard his confession through his sobs. As it turns out, he was that guy, the kind that uses hookers.

He was married, he was a pastor, and he was right – I was surprised.

Later, I sat talking with a group of women while we sipped coffee and nibbled the ends of crispy cookies like emaciated wannabe super-models. One of the women started a little rant against abortion, and the other ladies clucked and nodded in approval. “Who does that?” she raged, “What kind of person murders an unborn child?”

I glanced from one face to the next, hopeful for signs of Grace and Mercy, when I finally settled on the president of the PTA sitting across from me, her brown eyes rimmed with tears. Very quietly, as if whispering a secret to her steaming latte, she answered, “You’d be surprised.” But the chatter of the soccer moms had already moved on to important things, like who saw the last episode of “The Bachelor”.

I sat in that circle of women, buzzing from the caffeine high and thinking on my own dark secrets; the guys I’d slept with, the drugs I’d played with, the teen pregnancy. I was thinking about how, even now, as a grown woman, a married mother of 3, I was still broken, still doing awful things that I was ashamed of. And then I ate the rest of my cookie, plus two more, because I knew that as soon as I got home I would stick my finger down my throat and barf them up.

As I reached for a fourth, one of the ladies leaned over and put her hand on my knee, saying, “Jamie, how is the whole missionary thing going? That’s just so exciting! I mean, who does that?! Who moves halfway across the world to serve Jesus?!”

And I had to smile. “Oh, you’d be surprised…”

…. …. ….

Do you really want to know who does “that?” Because, honestly, you’d be surprised.

We are the People of the Second Chance. We are anorexic missionaries, pastors with porn habits, and PTA Mom’s with shady pasts. We are “that guy”. Wholly broken and fully redeemed, we no longer wonder “Who does that?!” because we already know the answer.

That kind of person…. needs a Second Chance.

I need a second chance.

And maybe you do, too.


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