Of Redemption and Community

Redemption: (noun)

  1. an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.
  2. deliverance; rescue.
  3. Theology. deliverance from sin; salvation.
  4. atonement for guilt.
  5. repurchase, as of something sold.
  6. paying off, as of a mortgage, bond, or note.



“People find meaning and redemption in the most unusual human connections.”
— Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.”
— Tennessee Williams


You cannot walk this path alone. Believe me. I’ve tried.

It is easy to lose your way, to stray off course by degrees until you have no idea where you are or how you got there. What’s worse is you have no idea how to get back. And it’s there, alone, bewildered, confused, disconnected that the demons taunt you, deriding you for your hope of rescue. They chastise you for your dreams of healing and wholeness. They parade shame and unworthiness in front of you in an unending Sorcerer’s Apprentice-like sequence. Every mistake. Every misstep. Every awkward moment. Unrelenting. Remorseless. Crushing.

I know. I’ve been there. More than once. Always the same condemning theme: This is why I am unlovely. I am alone. Terrifyingly alone.

It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to turn away from the mirror and forget who you are.

It only takes one person who really sees you. It might be a friend, a mentor, a confidante, a counselor. It may even be someone who reads something you’ve shared in a heartbeat of uncharacteristic and desperate vulnerability and said, “Mmhmm.” One person to say “I see you”, one person to say “This is the truth of who you are.”

Choose wisely, oh my heart. It is a grand and terrible thing to be seen, to have someone look upon your scars, roll up her sleeves and say, “See, I have them, too.” It is a grand and terrible thing to have someone look upon your scars and name them “Lovely.” And shyly at first, but with ever-growing boldness, you begin to walk together.

And others come along. Their scars are different. They walk with different limps. They do not see very well. Some cannot hear. And, together, you all hobble. You hold one another up when strength fails. And when you forget, and you will, someone becomes the mirror and says “No, see? This is who you are and who you are is lovely.” Today they are the mirror for you. Tomorrow you are the mirror for another. And step by step, you find yourself home.


14 thoughts on “Of Redemption and Community

  1. Mmhmmm. Nobody can walk it for you, but folks sure can walk it with you (to flipflop a popular internet meme). Everything about this post is beautiful, from the quote selection down to “find(ing) yourself home.” And the Williams quote *is* remarkable; empathy and connection, directed outward, seem to be a palliative for many ills. Nicely and bravely done.


  2. This is why it’s so hard to be alone. I always feel like there is no one in my corner.

    Just a bit ago, I watched a popular Catholic author promote the first blog post by his daughter. I have never had that. She’s all loving with a family and a supportive husband, too. I’ve never had that. I have people who follow my blog who are actually afraid to support it because that might raise uncomfortable questions about their personal loyalty. Sheesh. How to get ahead? I don’t know. I can’t be alone anymore, but I don’t have anyone.


    • All that matters is that we acknowledge the scars, whether they are the same, similar or completely different. Do I have the same scars as you do? No. All that’s important is that I understand you have scars, too, and that I reach out my hand to yours and say “Let’s get there together.”

      Thank you for walking this journey with me.


  3. Beautiful writing. We must be in each other’s corners, for even though it can seem like the people we know have all they need, sometimes, they just won’t admit how lost they are. Our scars are different and our sensitivities too. I’ve gone through long periods of time when I felt very alone (even with family around) and have learned that in such times I was around people who were more preoccupied or lost than I was. It takes enormous courage to randomly pop up and tell someone, they are lovely, but when it is true, it is transformative. Your post is lovely and you are too and I’m so happy to say I know you at all.


    • Thank you, Tonia. I can absolutely say the feeling is very much mutual.

      It has taken me a long time to be able to acknowledge how hungry I have been for connection. I’m still learning how to speak up and tell people what I need, and I am grateful beyond measure for the lovely people (like you) who walk the path with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There are days when I feel hurt enough to imagine ‘alone’ might be better. Those are selfish days, however–and it is good to be reminded that it isn’t. Redemption, grace and community–we need all three. Thank you for this.


    • Alone is the enemy. Alone weakens us. Alone is very, very dangerous. We cannot see clearly if we travel the path alone. We have to journey together, to be strong for one another, to reflect beauty and courage to one another and encourage each other along the path.


      • This is true, yet sometimes alone is necessary. Still, we need each other–and we have to remember that truth. It’s dangerous to think the world would be better off without us. That’s the moment when our brain is truly lying. Just so you know? I need you.


  5. Pingback: Of Redemption and Community – Middlespace

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