A howling beast lives within me though I may look much like a lamb. She longs to sit in the public square bellowing: “See my wounds! They did this to me! Evil people hurt me! Took everything from me! Shredded me! Look at what they’ve done!” The beast longs to attract passersby. She grasps their garments, tries to convince them to chorus her lament. She is filthy, angry, hungry to control so that she will be forever safe. I don’t like her. I don’t want to be her. But if not her, who will I be? I can’t lock the beast away. Once, I may have been just a lost lamb. Now, I am also beast. Answers will always include her. If I cannot find something of value through the beast, I will find nothing at all. The wounds that have shredded me must also be the fountains from which healing comes.
So much was torn away from me. I have so little left. But I want to have something. I want to be something. I want the tatters of my soul, of my identity to grow into something worth having. I want the beast to be transformed into something beautiful. So I offer the tiny bit I have as a young child offers weeds to his mother. I’m not a child. I know what weeds are — not much. I tell God, “I’m sorry I have only anger and hurt and terror to give You. I wish I had more. I wish I was brave and everything You have created me to be. But all I am is a shredded soul and Yours.”
He asks me, “Will you be an occasion for heaven to rejoice over the repentance of a lost sinner?”
“Huh?” He must be joking. Can the victim, lamb and beast, help those who wounded her? Perhaps. Perhaps not. God asks for my cooperation but doesn’t reveal the results; ours is a strictly “need to know” relationship. I do know, being an occasion isn’t just about those who wounded me. Sometimes it’s about allowing God to take my shreds and use them for someone else: another victim, another abuser, another who might choose evil but instead chooses the hard road of fighting their beasts. Being an occasion places something in my hands that I can give passersby. Their beasts may be tamer than mine. Then again, I may be much stronger, may have been given more aide. All that matters is I can let God do as He pleases with my shredded soul, no matter how much it hurts. This is worth more than my ease, my comfort, my life. This is really belonging to the Love of my life.
So I will be an occasion for repentance. And that makes me an occasion for hope. My beast’s howl may actually become a song of joy, a thing of great beauty.