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STICK FIGURES AND BROKEN HEARTS by Lori Hodges

I've been in the habit of drawing stick figures for years. It started when my five kiddos were young, and, for fun, I'd draw stick figures and faces on plastic cups to identify which cup belonged to which kid: one with long, straight hair, another with a flat-top, or maybe a baseball cap turned sideways, and, of course, a smiley face.

In more recent years, as I began to understand God's grace in a whole new way, I also began to draw stick figures depicting me and Jesus. I'd often begin my quiet morning times with a picture of me and Jesus, side-by-side, with, of course, smiley faces. My stick-figure pictures evolved over the next few years as I learned more about His character and about His love for me. Rather than my hand reaching for His, His hand would be reaching for mine. I drew Him with a beard and curly hair, because that's what He looks like. And I noticed that His hair is like mine. Dark and curly. Sometimes the pic would be of Jesus and me having fun riding our scooters together (I'm just a kid at heart!). For me, this was a journeyed depiction of a deeper and broader understanding of who God is. He loves me; He is the Prime Mover (He loved me first); He not only invites me into His work, but also into His play and into His rest; I'm not just His worker, I'm His child; He likes to be with me. As my understanding of who my Father is, who Jesus is, grew deeper, my pictures also evolved.

Then I entered a time of deep pain and heartache. And I didn’t draw too many stick-figure pictures. I journaled; I read scripture. But the stick-figure pictures? Not so much. Was there a disconnect between my usual pictures of Jesus and me and the reality of what I was now going through? I cried out to Him in my soul pain; I knew He was with me. But the pics I had drawn in recent years didn't fit the heartache I was feeling now. I couldn't lean into a smiley face on me or a smiley face on Jesus. I didn't feel like riding my scooter with Jesus. What I felt was a deep sadness. And then I realized that this is what Jesus felt, too.

And so I drew another stick-figure picture. This one was of me with tears streaming down my face. And the pic I then drew of Jesus was the same face I had always known, but now, rather than smiling, He was crying, too. And His stick-figure arms were holding me close in an embrace.

He is not a God who is far off. He knows heartache and soul pain. And He is with us. In our smiles and in our play, as we rest and as we work, and as we feel the pain of broken humanity.

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