The picture on His dresser
She lay in her hospital bed, emaciated and broken, her skin tinged a sickly yellow, heartache and regret bleeding from her oppressed soul.
Her body, saturated with heroin and plagued by AIDS, was decaying quickly; there was no time left to make up for all the wasted years.
She mourned the bitter depths she was condemned to after all the cheap and destructive highs.
She stared at the picture on her dresser and broke down and sobbed, aching for what could have been.
For days she sat listlessly, too dejected to even turn on the TV, completely disinterested in eating; it was only a matter of time, so why prolong the agony?
One day a priest was making his rounds and came into her room. He sat down next to her on the bed and, smiling warmly, asked how she was doing.
“I’m lost,” she said. “I’ve ruined my life and every life around me. There is no hope for me. I’m going to hell.”
The priest sat in silence for several moments, absorbing her bitterness and grief, searching for words. He looked up and noticed the picture on her dresser.
“Who’s that?” he asked.
She brightened a little and responded, “That’s my daughter. She’s the one beautiful thing in my life and the only person I’ve ever loved.”
“Would you help her if she was in trouble or made a mistake?” the priest asked. “Would you forgive her? Would you still love her?”
“Of course I would!” she cried. “I would do anything for her! She will always be precious and beautiful to me. Why would you ask such a question?”
“Because I want you to know,” said the priest, “that God has a picture of you on his dresser.”
*I found this story in Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance, and I have modified it a bit.