Tragic Yet Okay

Blessings often come disguised in ‘tragic’ situations.  I know it may sound heartless, or cold – but I truly am grateful for everything that’s happened.  Of course, I would never wish a loss like this onto anyone, but I’m grateful for Life’s daily reminder to appreciate and love everything and everyone around you.”

The person who wrote that is Kat Von D. She’s a person whom I {compartmentally} respect. Yet there are those that wouldn’t even give her words or value a glance because she is judged, often unfairly, based on her appearance and public persona (website/blog/etc…).

Kat Von D is a sober recovered addict, a girl who came from nothing, and is on a long and difficult journey. She’s a girl who listens to punk rock, but her heart is rooted in Beethoven. She’s a concert pianist. She’s edgy and raw, covered in ink, wears thick black kohl-eyeliner and tight vinyl pants.

She’s an artist. An amazing one at that. She illustrates story telling pictures, most end up on people’s skin. In the tattoo process she’s using a spiritual gift. Yes, that’s right—I said spiritual gift (Dr. Charles Stanley says, God freely gives a gift to all and we use it throughout life—it’s up to us to focus that gift for God’s glory). With Kat’s gift, be it for glory or not, she consoles those she spends hours with while creating art on their bodies. I could go on about this (the gift of consoling during “inking”)—but I won’t get into that whole shebang because many are opposed to tattoos—for reasons I can’t logically understand. But this isn’t the point I want to make. Rather, it’s to tell you how Kat Von D indirectly had a major impact on my life last year, and how God’s truth, lessons, and revelation keep unfolding.

Last summer I had the honor to meet Kat. Never had I expected to see her, or go to her shop. But the strangest of coincidences landed me in Hollywood during summer vacation. Along with my family and husband, we parked behind the building that housed her shop. It was like going to the famous Hollywood Chinese Mann Theater. We looked utterly touristy with cameras in-hand. Entering the shop, I ooo’d and awed at the vibrant art on the walls. I felt silly-giddy noticing people in the shop I was accustomed to seeing on TV. But no Kat Von D. Regardless, we left happy with the Hollywood experience.

Heading back to the car and without sound reason (call it a “stir”) I wanted to round the building again. As we turned the corner onto La Brea Avenue, Kat stepped out of an abandoned suite next to her shop. I elbowed my husband as we walked towards her, whispering, “Hey that’s Kat!” I didn’t want to be one of those crazy people invading a celebrity’s space by asking for an autograph—so we just walked past. Fidgeting the camera in my hand, my husband tickled my ear, “Do you want your picture with her?” I was too shy. I wanted to follow social rules and replied no. But after gentle persuading, I turned around and cautiously approached Kat. I could tell she was in a foul mood—something was horribly wrong. But I had already walked towards her and our eyes met—I couldn’t back out now. Within 30-seconds a photo was taken and our awkward exchange was done. I stopped for a brief moment, looked in her eyes and said “Kat, you’re awesome—you inspire me and so many. Thank you.” Suddenly, her brimming tears were only held back by thick eye-liner. She released a real smile and we exchanged words I will forever keep to myself. Then she reached out to hug me. For a moment, I felt…Jesusy. A nudge, a stir, a really good (holy) thing had just happened. It made my day.

Along with other photos of my vacation, I posted the picture of Kat and me online (Facebook). What came after that was something I would have never expected. It took months to discover how a Jesusy moment could twist into sinister actions and heartache.

There are so many unrelated puzzle piece stories that play into what happened next—too numerous to share here. But what I want to express, is that in hindsight, I’m astonished the extent God went to prepare my heart for the unknown oncoming storm. From the day of my birth, He knew of this pending misery.

A friend whom I loved, prayed, and fellowshipped with took opposition to the photo—yet never told me. All I knew was that abruptly they’d become publicly cold and abusive towards me. My heart ached to learn what I had done to make them so angry. I apologized upfront for “anything” and sought to remedy whatever I’d done that caused this type of retribution. But replies to my vulnerable questions were short, curt, and empty of reason. Fear set hold in my heart as I was certain something was horribly wrong with me—and I was blind to it.

I could no longer contain my fear as I sought wisdom in mutual friends. If I’d erred, I wanted to know—and have an opportunity to seek forgiveness.

What I learned left me heartbroken. They knew why, but had no explanation. One innocent photo + One Christian friend = tragedy.

As I soaked in the reason for the tarnish on our friendship, a floodgate opened releasing old memories and pain. All the reasons I walked away from the church many years ago freshly slapped me in the face. Once again I was reliving pain from Christians who falsely judge and persecute other Christians. My core was traumatized. I felt urges to leave the church-scene because this deeply gouged my spiritual Achilles Heel.

Six months after the picture was taken I gathered every ounce of courage when asking my photo-opposing-friend to meet me. I’d come to fear this person and was shaking scared. I desperately wanted to let them know I loved them, and try to understand what happened.

Overcome by speechlessness, I listened while they confessed without sorrow, shame or repentance of their scrutiny of the photo and how they unabashedly justified seeking outsider’s opinions. My once true friend, attempted to sway others with their own judgment by openly contemplating that my smile in the photo looked like I “worshiped” and “idolized” Kat—something evil. In the end this person affirmed we were no longer friends. In-fact they stated we never were they type of friends I thought we were—invalidating all our years of growth, fellowship, and intimacy. Maybe what hurt most was hearing “I chose to NOT ‘do life’ with you.” (“Do Life” is a term my church uses for the personal interaction Christians have within the confines of a Bible Study/Small Group).

While trust has been broken, I can’t help but still love this person. Maybe it’s a testament of supernaturally healing in my Achilles Heel.

Kat was right; blessings often come disguised in ‘tragic’ situations. This was tragic. Horrible. But the promises of Romans 8:28 flourish from the ashes. There were friends on the side, silently watching, supporting. These were friends I took for granted. I feel ashamed how I put so much emphasis and value in my excommunicating friend, yet didn’t take time to nourish or recognize the agape love, friends, and fellowship around me. I’ve gained so much in this loss—more than I can express here in a short-ish post.  I’ve come to understand the wisdom Kat concluded, “I would never wish a loss like this onto anyone, but I’m grateful for Life’s daily reminder to appreciate and love everything and everyone around you.”

Copyright © 2009- 2011 Sherry Meneley . All Rights Reserved . . . soiled wings

24 thoughts on “Tragic Yet Okay

  1. I’m not really sure that you lost a “true friend”…or that it was really a tragegy…The picture just revealed the reality of the relationship. It was…and is…sad, though.

    • Yeah sad. I was fooled – duped. It really was my 1st venture back into Christian relationships and I thought everyone played by the rules so I packed away my “sensors” and “skepticism”. I’ve learned a lot, which is always a really good thing.

      • Bleh – 48 hours later I feel that I HAVE to say: for me, it WAS tragic. I personally felt like I’d gone through a tragedy (as Webster would say: tragedy is human suffering, traumatic). Those who knew/heard me, knew I was traumatized, paralyzed, and broken from this incident. I had personal junk and history that made this really harsh. But, I’m glad to have come out of it wiser and more whole than I was before.
        One thing I learned in the training and years while counseling on rape/dv crisis-lines, and has held so true, is that what seems small to one person—is big to another. We all have layers of junk in our lives which makes some things tragic and while others are just a bummer. The victim should always be validated, because they feel what they feel.

  2. Sherry, thanks for opening yourself up like this. There are many lessons for me in this post! You did “what Jesus would do.” That’s my desire.

    Blessings to you!


    • Thanks Dianne – it’s been a hard heart journey on this lesson – but I’m getting it and feeling more whole and understanding new things each turn of the road.

  3. I wish I could count the many times that “friends” have abandoned over my many years of ministry. So many people have their ideas and if you decide to set out of their comfortable box of orthodox boarders…watch out! It is undeniable sad and exhaustively painful and it will happen again, if you continue to pursue truth and “realness”.

    Jesus had the same thing. Remember Peter…he was so bold for Jesus, but when Jesus acted differently than Peter thought he should, he abandoned him. How undeniable sad and exhaustively painful!

    I’m sure there is a much more spiritual phrase, but I believe Forrest Gump said it best, “You can’t fix stupid.”

    • Each day I further undetstand what it means to be persicuted for following Jesus. Yup – Forrest said it good. I often think how Jesus let a woman of the street cry and wash and kiss His feet. I’m certain when that happened many wanted to “unfriend” Jesus at that point. My heart bursts when thinking how Jesus loved the ickies and the ones He shouldn’t have been seen in a picture with (according to whomever made up the rule that Jesus shouldn’t let street-walkers show Him love).

  4. Sherry,
    Jesus would embrace Kat too!

    Sometimes God uses us as a mirror–allowing others to see themselves as they truly are. Your friend (as a Jesus-follower) will eventually see his/her own heart condition as reflected in this painful event.

    Then you will have an opportunity to extend the same agape-love to him/her that you shared with Kat.

    • Beth – I truly hope that happens one day, I would love to hug this person once again. Our relationship could never be the same – but I love them none the less.

  5. Oh, Sherry; I’m so sorry that you had to go through this, but so proud of you for being able to sift through the chaff or crap or whatever & come to such a wise & grace-filled conclusion. It’s tricky to adjust our relationship boundaries in healthy but Christ-like ways. When talking about the coping skills that we may have developed to protect ourselves, a friend says that we must periodically evaluate them to see whether they are still necessary or appropriate. Interesting. Certainly I know it is unhealthy to give unsafe people too much power.

    Your perspective is helpful to me as I pick my way on my own journey away from the unChristian aspects of the church and cling to the Godly, Jesusy parts.

  6. Sherry, I wish I was close to give you a hug. I don’t understand why “Christians” have to be so mean and judgemental. It’s one thing to stand up for what you believe in, but what your “friend” did is just wrong. Paul told us to “speak the truth in love.” This person certainly didn’t do that. You, however, did. You made a difference in Kat’s life and will make a difference in the lives of people who read your post. Everything you do stems from the love pouring out of you. I hope I can be like you when I grow up. 🙂

    • Oh Judy… thank you. I can’t change who I am, how I look, who I gravitate to…and I’m learning I can’t choose who I love – be it Kat or opposites that don’t want to love back.

  7. Hello Sherry,

    Compartmental respect… Is that even possible? 😉 Of course your whole life had been a preparation for that moment, but that moment was only one small piece of your preparation for the future. Like a symphony, each note prepares the listener for the next note. There is this thing that I have thought about forever and ever, over and over again it has gone through my mind. Maybe all that thought has been leading to this moment. (…or not 😉 )

    God had to harden the heart of Pharaoh because Pharaoh would not have been so harsh of his own free will. Can you imagine how Pharaoh must have felt after the whole exodus thing went down and he was sitting there with his dead son? Confused and bewildered, wondering what just happened and how it was that he played the role that he played. He probably felt allot like Judas felt as he gripped his knife in his agony; “What did I just do?”

    God had a reason for you to become their friend in the first place, and He had a reason for them to push you away. And the music keeps playing. 😀


  8. This is your Dad, I was there when you met Kat. I thought it was real neat. I have been a Christain since the wheel was invented and I saw nothing wrong with us all meeting going to her shop. That ex-friend better keep moving or she might just be hit by lighting. THERE! Why do stupid people act stupid?

  9. Hi Sherry,
    I am so sorry this happened. Sigh. Been there too. Our hearts just break when all we want to do is life with those we think God has connected us to. And yet we realize the depth of the person when they dont venture past shallow waters. Jesus came for the Gentiles. I am saved by GRACE DAILY!
    I am blessed by your authenticity and vulnerability and Courage to meet with the one whom hurt you. That just makes me want to know you even more. And you know the best part….when we do finally meet, I will know that you won’t care about the giant tat I carry proudly on my back. Jesus doesnt care either. 🙂

  10. This touched my heart. It makes me so sad when Christians have a judgemental spirit. I believe it’s because I was that way for years in my young Christian life, until Christ changed my heart. I love Kat and so happy y’all had a God moment. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  11. Sherry, Jesus hung out with all types of people. I think Jesus would love to spend time with Kat and would have probably even got a tattoo. That’s what my Jesus would do. I hear you about the ‘friend’ thing. They come and go like the seasons. I’m glad that Jesus chose to hang out with anyone that would hang out with him 🙂

  12. …and this is why I am guarded around “Churchy” people. I have been hurt too badly by them.

    Hugging you with my heart.

    p.s. GREAT post. :O)

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