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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

The Day I Met my First Murderer

For the last few years I have learned ever more about brokenness. I have experienced a fair amount of the pain I held within me, experiencing it so it would release the death grip it held on me. It seems no matter the healing philosophy in order to escape the agony of being broken, the poor human held victim must indeed experience pain fully to escape its grasp. In the words of Jesus, “Truly happy are those who mourn for they will be comforted.”

As a part of multiple groups of people sharing about the brokenness in their own lives and receiving support from the listeners, I have become a student of brokenness and healing. I have heard people whose faces shine with love tell stories of who they were only a few short years ago. As I listen all I can think about is Jesus – how amazing it is that Jesus changes us until we are unrecognizable.

I am a bit of a drama queen. In my quiet way, I have always been one. I love a good story. I love getting a reaction out of people. Sometimes it has not always been in a quiet way. Back in the day, I used to make life decisions based on the emotions it would inspire in the people around me.

I do not do that much these days. Yet as the title for this “story” came to me, I wondered if I was just trying to get a reaction – trying to get people to click a link or think I or my life was cool. I wondered what I could possibly say about the day I met my first murderer without objectifying the very person I was attempting to humanize. Would I offend the victim of a circumstance whom I sought to love? Was the story about me or was it about Him (Jesus)?

Last week I was at a recovery conference in NYC. Entirely unrelated to the ministry in which I serve, I was free to be myself, learn, grow and renew my spirit. There was no pressure to perform. No pressure to learn a ton of information. Only a desire to connect with fellow women in the greater NYC metropolitan area, who are in touch with their own brokenness. In touch with the sinful desires of their old nature. Perhaps, more accurately, with the consequences of the sinful desires of their old natures and the old natures of those around them.

It was here I learned to engage Romans 8:1 in a whole new way. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” One speaker pointed out one of the definitions of condemnation is “extreme disgust”. For once in my life I felt I could understand and see how this truth interacted in my daily life. Yes, I knew the legal terms. I knew I was set free legally because of Christ’s death on the cross. My debt was paid, so there was no condemnation, no punishment for me.

But suddenly condemnation was not just a legal term in my head. It was not just the way I thought about someone in my head. It was not just a fact I knew about my fellow believers. Condemnation had a feeling that went with it. I knew disgust. I used to live most of my life disgusted. Before I met Jesus, I lived in a society rampant with disgust and condemnation. I was an eager participant. A Pharisee of Pharisees. Most disgusted of the disgusted.

I knew how people should live and how they should act. God alone knows I thought I had the scripture to prove it. The disgust I felt for myself and the reality of my broken existence, I took out on the world around me.

Gossip, anger, condemnation, legalism, disgust. God had a lot to change when I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior. Over many years He has. As I sit in circles, getting in touch with the brokenness of humanity, He is exchanging my feelings of disgust with feelings of compassion.

I have met people with a wide variety of stories. No hurtful act seems too distant from something I might do if I took Jesus away as the Rock of my life. Eventually I came to realize I was much like everyone else. No sin was so great I quit wanting to sit along side the committer of the wrong. “Let’s go to Jesus together,” seems the most appropriate response to every form of brokenness. We are all in the same boat.

So it was last weekend, I stumbled upon meeting my first murderer. The meeting was purely coincidental, except the quiet whisper of the Spirit directing me which workshop to sign up for at the conference. I entered the room late because the emotional intensity I had experienced in the previous workshop threw off my sense of time and location. I was asked to introduce myself and why I came to this particular workshop. It is always a little awkward to be the latecomer in need of introducing yourself in a group which has already introduced itself to each other. I told them I was there because it was the workshop with which I was least comfortable. The women leading the group seemed to like my answer.

Then they started to talk. The topic was incarceration and its effects on families of the incarcerated. I sat in a circle with 12-15 other women and listened to the stories of two women who served twenty-seven years in prison. Perhaps righteously so. I hung on every word as the air conditioner directly behind me made it extremely difficult to do so.

Vulnerability. I am an addict, but what would it be like if in my past I was a murderer?

People are not very forgiving. Not many of us invite a former killer to live next door. Not many of us find any reason to hire someone who has plead guilty to murder. Not many of us find a reason to allow mercy to triumph over judgment.

I sat in the circle and could not help but wonder, “Would this woman be willing to mentor me? Would she spend the time to just talk to me about the brokenness in her story? Would she find it valuable to teach me how to love people in her circumstances better?”

I wondered if I truly wanted to learn.

Vulnerability overload. Do I stay and talk with her after the meeting? Or do I spend some time with God quietly receiving His strength as He emotionally stabilizes me in preparation for the remainder of my day? It was okay to go. I left her talking with another conference participant, wondering if I would ever see her again and if this was the only role she would play in my story.

Perhaps it is. Perhaps there will only be a memory of the woman who in the eyes of the  world stands condemned, but before the throne of God is forgiven.

“There is no disgust for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s words have been following me around this week. The victory Jesus has won in my life has been celebrated. The emotions from last weekend are being processed.

No disgust. I used to be disgusted by nearly everyone and everything. I was thoroughly disgusted by myself and my inability to reach my own standards of performance, let alone God’s standard of love.

God has replaced my disgust with compassion.

“For God so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

He did not come into the world to condemn it but to save it by giving His life for it. Why should my response be different than my Savior’s?

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