Miranda July

The Bad Man of the Gospel

As I was driving downtown, I was looking at Facebook (I know, I’m irresponsible) and I came across a post from my friend Crystal. It was a simple quote from a book.

“Finally, in a low whisper, he said, ‘I think I might be a terrible person.’ For a split second I believed him – I thought he was about to confess a crime, maybe a murder. Then I realized that we all think we might be terrible people. But we only reveal this before asking someone to love us. It is a kind of undressing.”
Miranda July, The First Bad Man

As I dwelt on this quote, it nearly moved me to tears. I knew that I had to take a minute to write about it.

I come across a lot of quotes that are encouraging but, from my perspective, often try to do so without any authority to make that claim. At the start of this quote, I assumed it would be a similar, “No! You’re a beautiful goddess of awesomeness” conclusion that I so often see on Facebook. I was prepared to defensively respond, ‘But we are all terrible people inside at one level or another. Maybe not murderers, but we all have ugly parts that are too often in control or our decisions and thoughts.’

But Miranda July didn’t try to correct his thoughts. She just let him sit there and feel terrible. It was unexpected. But she also understood something incredibly important: the role vulnerability plays in being loved.

For people who know me, it is no secret that I have a hard time with trust and vulnerability. I want to be loved but reject people because they don’t know my “terrible person” side. And then I want to share that side but I’m afraid I won’t be loved. It hovers like a cloud over every important relationship I have in my life. Do they really understand how terrible I am? Do they still love me in spite of it?

Then my thoughts shifted to the love I long for from God and that is when this quote became most profound. God loves us. But if this quote is right in its understanding of our hearts, we cannot accept his love until we have undressed before him; until we have had our “terrible person” confession in his presence. Emptying our baggage at his feet, becoming fully vulnerable and helpless, we ask Him to love us. He doesn’t respond, “You’re not that bad” or “You’re a goddess.”

He says, “It’s ok. I still love you. Look at everything I have done for you.”

This is the heart of the Christian message. This is the gospel.