Remember those woven bracelets we wore way back when? Not the ones we made for each other at camp, but the ones we bought at the Christian book store, along with the matching Bible covers. I had a necklace too; I think mine was a leather cord with pewter fish and that ubiquitous acronym.
The whole thing was apparently based on a book, but I never actually read it. I'm assuming it was good? But really, I have no idea.
All I know is that having surrounded myself with reminders of the right question, I still forgot to ask it.
It wasn't for lack of trying. I would read those letters on my bracelet, and I would try a little harder, try a little harder. But it never occurred to me to ask.
You see, the problem with acronyms is that they are so easy to mispronounce. And on this one, it makes all the difference in world whether the pitch of your voice goes up or down on the D at the end.
Had I been saying the actual words, I would have noticed the problem immediately. "What would Jesus do" makes no grammatical sense at all unless it's a question.
But I was the girl with all the answers, and "W.W.J.D." was an unquestioning statement to me, a reminder to do whatever it was that I already thought I was supposed to do. A reminder that I had to try harder to be perfect, or at the very least to look like it, so that my life would be good advertising for Jesus.
But the funny thing is, that's precisely the thing that Jesus wouldn't have done.
Jesus would have loved wildly, forgiven extravagantly, and even though he was known for breaking all the right rules, he probably would have done most of the things I tried to do.
But Jesus never guarded his reputation the way that I did.
He let go of it.
He didn't consider equality with God something to be grasped, but he emptied himself.
He emptied himself of his glory, and he didn't run away from shame.
Sometimes following Jesus means being the good little girl who keeps all the rules, and sometimes it means being the rabble-rouser who keeps making everybody squirm. Always, it means prioritizing love over reputation. It means fearlessly plunging straight through the shame for the sake of the glory on the other side.
If I had only thought to ask the question on my bracelet, I would have found that the answer was right there all along, in the shape of a cross.
A pair of sonnets for St. John the Baptist.
2 days ago