“God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
There was a picture of and a story about Mandy Dawson in one of the local papers this week. The story was about her being held in jail until August because of a parole violation. The initial charge was due to her drug addiction. Even though one can get high in jail, it still may help her.
The picture was one in which the photographer captured her in full stride, her face set purposeful but tinged with sadness, one hand in her purse with her coat billowing behind her. The image stirred me and I thought no doubt as she was thinking, of how her life seems to be in tatters. I wondered how many of us would just look at her and shake our heads or mumble something unpleasant.
Like so many, I had watched over the years as she fell from one mountain of trouble onto another but I never forgot what she once had accom-plished or what her life seemed to pro-mise. When I met her she was in the Florida Legislature. She was willing to help just about anyone, doing her best to be accessible to those she represented and was occupied with our community. She participat-ed in a number of community projects I was part of and never hesitated to speak up when asked or needed. I thought her then and still think of her as good people.
And good people can really make some bad mistakes. Mandy made some bad mistakes. Some might say stupid or unforgiveable mistakes but don’t count me in that number. Stupid perhaps, unforgiveable? No.
All of us have done things or said things that have cost us more than we ever anticipated they would and all of us have disappointed people. We may not have done it to the degree or had the notoriety of Mandy Dawson but we‘ve all done it. And I would posit Mandy Dawson has hurt and disappointed herself more than anyone else.
This is not to suggest that we pity Mandy Dawson or commiserate with her. She doesn’t need that but she could use our prayers.
Not pity but compassion, not blame but empathy, not accusation but kindness.
I know it would be easier to point fingers at her or just stay angry with her or pretend we never knew her or wallow in our let down but those of us who claim to follow Christ don’t have those options.
Either we believe what we say we do regarding our stated faith or we do not. And if we do, giving Mandy some comfort through prayer should be easy to do. Christ said it best: “When you stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
I don’t know about you but I could use some forgiving. So could Mandy Dawson