Three years ago, a girl wobbled onto the ice with her little brother in tow, wondering about the wisdom of taking him for an ice-skating trip on his fifth birthday — especially since she hadn’t been ice skating in over ten years.
She gripped the side railing for dear life, while her brother skated with a more experienced friend.
A guy laughed at her clumsiness. “First time out on the ice?”
He was about her height, stocky, with a purple streak in his hair, purple nail polish, and purple gauges in his ears. He had an easy-going smile. “I’ve already fallen six times, girl. You’re doing good.”
This girl didn’t know when she grinned back at him, and accepted his outstretched hand, that he would tell her what he did.
As they stumbled their way on the ice, he told her about being raised and shunned in a small town, being kicked out of school and out of his church, moving to work on his singing career, all the while dealing with the pressure of being “different” — being gay.
“I believe in God,” he said, “but I don’t like who he’s made me and what he does to me. I believe in the Bible, but not the parts that have nasty things to say about people like me. People think gays are happy and confident all the time, but most of the time, I’m sad. Most of the time, I’m lonely.”
“We’re all born a little sad,” she said, smiling, “all a little lonely.”
“I’ve never met anyone so kind in such a long time,” he said. “You’re different from most people.”
This girl began to give an explanation for her peculiarity: Jesus, by his love, had changed her life. He became the first stranger she ever told about Jesus so clearly. And she became the first person he’d met all day who hadn’t sneered at him for being so expressively different.
“I just want to be loved,” he told her.
The afternoon ended two hours later with the girl explaining, “You know, I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, and I’m passionate about believing what the Bible says — ”
“Fair enough,” he interjected with a half smile.
“ — But it was so good to meet you, to hear your story, to remember, as much as both sides can seem to vilify one another, that there are real people on both sides of this issue. Is there any way I could be praying for you?”
“Why do you want to pray for me?” he asked.
“Because I love you.”
Incredulity filled his eyes: “But why?”
“Because Jesus loves me. In spite of me, Jesus loved me, and he saved me! And he has changed me, lavished his love on me, and from that I can love others. I can love you. I know you’ve probably heard it a thousand times.”
“Actually, no one I’ve ever just met has told me that they love me, and I’ve met plenty of Christians. They tell me that I’m going to hell, that I’m disgusting, and they try to get away from me. But here you are . . . letting me hold your hand.”
“Because I know you need his love. We all do. We need him. And I get to be here with you to tell you about him.”
The words welled up in her heart and tumbled out of her mouth unchecked by the insecurities her inexperience had brought.
The story doesn’t end with the boy on the ice coming to Jesus in a dramatic moment. Once the ice-skating was over, we both went our separate ways. But he changed me. In a moment, when I’d typically be too uncomfortable to speak, distracted by my sheltered life and unsure of what to say, God helped me share his love. Sometimes we can get so bogged down into the issues that we forget that all issues belong to people — hurting people. Lost people. Alienated people. People just like us before Jesus stepped into our lives (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Sometimes they might be a lonely sixteen-year-old boy aching for friend, or it could be a totally different situation, but we, as those transformed by Jesus, should be the most compassionate people they ever meet.