Let me tell you a secret: I like you.

You are raw, unpolished, naive and hurting. The world’s dirt formed a blanket on your skin. Your flesh is hardened, like scales of metal joining hands, a shield for every bad word thrown at you. You are not a coward. You will not run away. Your mouth has formed into a set of gnashing teeth, ready to spew acid. You want to be strong enough to look at this dangerous world, straight in the eye.

But you are broken. And most of all, you are afraid. Once, when your heart was young, innocent and free, all you wanted was to love and be loved. You had dreams. You wanted to change the world. However, the world has its own heart. You were rejected. You were left alone. Your friends struck you with arrows and laughed when you kissed the ground. There was mud on your lips.

The same mud on the lips you use to kiss your children: hard, salty and contaminated.

Your heart is tainted. You are confused. There is distrust. You fail to look at humans as tender, frail beings. Instead, you see ghosts, with red glaring eyes ready to devour on their prey. There is fear; a stirring, shaking kind. Your heart softly whispers as it cowers to your chest, “I don’t want to be eaten.”

You will eat them first.

But I want to tell you this: I like you.

The inner you. The part of you who is afraid. The part of you, who is like a child, looking for a parent to hold her hand and guide her through the darkness. The you who still wants to wade in this world in peace, in harmony, with the rest of humankind. That tiny, teeny self that calls out, continuously, for love.

Here is one truth: we are all broken. And we are all afraid. But there is a promise: that perfect love casts all fear, and it covers all wounds. There is still hope.

There is still hope for you. For us.

Bring out your brokenness. Do not be afraid. My love is not perfect, but your Father’s is. Slough off those scales, wipe the mud from your mouth. Allow yourself to be undone, for only by this you can be healed. Take away your bravado, set yourself free.

Set yourself free, like when your heart was young and innocent. Mercy is waiting for you.