These are the lyrics to a hymn we sang at Mass tonight:
Come as you are, that’s how I want you.
Come as you are, feel quite at home.
Close to My heart, loved and forgiven.
Come as you are, why stand alone?
No need to fear, love sets no limits.
No need to fear, love never ends.
Don’t run away, shamed and disheartened.
Rest in My love, trust Me again.
Come as you are, that’s how I love you.
Come as you are, trust Me again.
Nothing can change the love that I bear you.
All will be well, just come as you are.
For the record, it’s the Don’t run away, shamed and disheartened line which moves me to tears every bloody time, no matter how I try to brace myself against it. Because that’s exactly what I’m struggling with, exactly what I’m trying to keep myself from doing.
Here is an excerpt from the email I just wrote to Sr Deirdre Browne, the author of such miraculous words:
Dear Sister Deirdre,
Forgive the unsolicited email. I am a chorister from Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle, NSW, and I have now sung your hymn Come as You Are twice. Each time it has moved me to tears.
I am a survivor of physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse at the hands of my now ex-husband, an Anglican priest. I left him a year and a half ago after a ten-year relationship. I have kept my faith – and stayed alive – only because of the Cathedral choir of which I am a member. I am learning to live with the shame of what has been done to me and what I have survived.
I wanted to thank you for your beautiful hymn which is one of the most profound and painfully meaningful I have ever sung. Both times I have come across your hymn I have been moved to tears by its expression of the depth of the love of God in which we dwell, the utter passion of God for the small soul that is me, and the gentleness and care of the compassion of God which both sears me to the bone and holds me in a love that is too big, too deep for me to comprehend. Each time it has challenged my shame and reminded me of the utter and vital terror of the mercy of God in which I am held. Each time I have come away from it shaken to my core by the reality of how much the Creator of the world cares for me, that He should ask me to “trust me again”, and that He should beg me to refrain from running away from Him in my shame and hurt. That He should care whether I run from Him or not, and that the Master and Maker of the universe should be willing to be vulnerable in in my flawed and feeble and frightened response to Him.
Again, my apologies for contacting you out of the blue, and please do not feel any pressure to respond. I simply wanted to express my thanks, from a girl whom you will never meet but whose life and soul your words have profoundly touched.
I really hope it’s gone to the right person. Otherwise I’m going to feel like a complete idiot.