Drop Your Stones
Why am I the way that I am? That’s the statement I repeated as I sat in a hot U-Haul truck with my head resting on the steering wheel.
To set the scene for you, it was 92 degrees at 7 p.m. I had been helping my mom move all day, and now we had the U-Haul all packed up and ready to go. I jumped inside to start the truck and realized there was no key in the ignition. It was at that moment I remembered I was the last one who had the key, but I had no idea where I had put it. I dropped my forehead on that hot steering wheel, took a deep breath, and with the saddest tone said, “Why am I the way that I am?”
The next hour and a half was defeating. The keys were nowhere to be found. We searched everywhere except the place where I had left them! Finally, we found them. I looked over at my husband and said “I am the worst. I know you are so mad at me.” He didn’t say a word. I just kept going. “I’m a child. How do I lose keys with a giant keychain on them?” Eventually, all my attacks at myself turned into laughter at how stressful I had made the situation. After the long day, I sat there looking back at all the harsh words and tension that was created by those lost keys and realized that I was at the center of it all. I lost the keys, and then I spent the rest of the day beating myself up about it. Nobody else joined in on my parade of diatribes. It was just me, myself, and I. I didn’t need anyone else to beat me up that day. I was doing a good enough job myself.
When I read the Bible, I always look for myself in the story. As I was reading John 8 about the woman caught in adultery, I did this very thing. Only this time I was surprised at the outcome. John recalls a moment when the very popular Jesus stopped to speak to a crowd that had gathered. His favorite stalkers, the Pharisees, felt like this was the perfect time to trap him and mortify a woman all at the same time.
In the middle of Jesus’ sermon, this gang of accusers interrupts with a woman in tow. They announce that she has been caught in the act of adultery and position her in front of the crowd. Can you imagine?! Now that everyone is looking at the woman, the Pharisees address Jesus and want his opinion about her punishment, which during that time through the Law of Moses was to stone her. Jesus replies in the strangest way by writing in the dust with his finger, which only fuels the Pharisees’ anger with him.
They continue demanding an answer from him about if they should stone the woman. Jesus finally speaks up with the famous response, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.” Slowly the accusers slip away, leaving Jesus and the woman alone in front of the crowd. The story ends with Jesus commanding her to “go, and from now on sin no more.”
I love this story and generally, when I’m reading it I want to be Jesus. But I often relate to the woman who has found herself in a mess, needing some extraordinary grace. I need a grace-giving Jesus when I become a grace-needing woman. This time as I read it through, however, I realized that when it comes to dealing with myself, I am the third character in this story. I become a quick-to-anger accuser. I am the Pharisees.
If you had lost the keys that day, I would have encouraged you during our treasure hunt and told you funny stories of all the things I had lost before. I would have been Jesus to you. I would have reminded you of grace and mercy. But when it comes to facing myself and my own shortcomings, I have no issue with calling myself out and picking up the stones. I shift back and forth between the woman who needs the grace and the Pharisees who are not willing to give it. Then Jesus interrupts my show with a reminder of how human I am and my desperate need for a Savior who never needed to throw stones.
The world is difficult enough out there without these stones I throw. When we are spiraling into that place of the accuser and beating ourselves up, we have to check ourselves. The best way for me to do that is to remember this story—to remember we have a Savior who chose to stand up for people instead of stoning them. He stood up for the woman, and he will surely stand up for you. When you find yourself being the Pharisees in the story, drop your stones and stand where Jesus would stand, right next to the person who needs the most grace. Even if that person is you.
Want to hear more on this topic? Check out our Equip Podcast “Thinking Positive.”