Laying it Down
Realising as I sit here, that authentic living is found when we quit dividing ourselves - separating our aspects into those that are shameful, angry, weak from those we consider good: our patience, our love and selflessness.
Only one thing is large enough to embrace both. Grace.
For years I have lived in shame of those parts of me that don't make the grade. The impatient attitude that sneaks out and bites those closest to me. The anger that lurks in the deep parts. The desire to pull away from that which is truly good to that which tastes good in the moment. It is the hidden place where guilt lives - all that we should be, but are not. All that we shouldn't be, yet still, exists.
It is raining outside, the world being washed, and this is our seventy-eleventh day indoors. I've spat the dummy. Told my daughter that I refuse to wash her jacket; one that I have washed twice already but never seen her wear.
Lightening crashes. The jacket falls to the floor.
'It's wet.' she says. 'You wore it for thirty seconds.' I reply.
It hangs on the door.
It's the fourteenth drama of the day. A smaller one, but infuriating, none the less.
I sit in my room, coffee in hand. Third one for the day.
In isolation, we can't escape who we are.
The good, the bad, the patient and the ugly all clashing against each other in a holy mess. I've never loved harder and never loathed more; the washing taking up half of my laundry floor, the poor choices the kids make. The fact that I don't like them much at times. I said it.
You know why I hate writing? When I put it all in words, making it presentable and honest, (when often the two refuse to meet) I am there for you to see. Why would I do that? What sane human would display their mess for all to see?
Because I have zero tolerance for pretend. It doesn't help us.
These are the hardest of times.
A friend asked, 'how are you?'
I said, 'I'm good and burned out. Refreshed and learning.'
That sums it up for me.
Side by side, muck and joy. Mess and grace.
For years I have sat under theologies on grace with a sting at the core.
'You're forgiven, now be good.'
Maybe I exaggerate; maybe the message hits my own questions.
I've found a division of self has taken place over the years; the good bits separated from the bad. Poor theology.
I can present the good; wrap a bow around it, add a filter and pop it on my feed. I can even be honest about the bad; but only the cleaned up version, and of course, the plethora of offers for help that follow don't really help. We don't really understand authentic, do we?
Struggle, chaos, mess: quick, cover it up and help.
We mean well.
Raw sits in the dust and hugs. Raw believes that the good will emerge once more. We are, after all, treasures in earthen vessels. We will never be free of our clay selves. If God sees fit to dwell in us, why should we?
The message of the Gospel was never about covering up.
It always pulled the band aid off and kissed the scab.
How are you doing in this season?
Maybe you're flying, maybe you're falling. Probably a good dose of both, like myself.
You know why I love writing?
It calls people in. I wanna find the words for our experiences, pat you on the back and say, 'Me, too.'
Do you feel like you have separated yourself? Shaming the part of you that fails, presenting the part that succeeds?
The more I encounter grace, the more real it gets.
It's messy and raw, unsettling and glorious at once. Its the exhalation of a lungful of trapped air. The slash of warm sun through a clouded sky.
How hard it can be to get our Christian minds around. How difficult to live from authenticity; how lonely to share yourself honestly and be misunderstood, rejected.
(It's not really about you, you know. They might be uncomfortable with their own grit.)
Or maybe your struggle is their strength and they want to feel good for once.
What's at the bottom of you? Beneath the clear waters. I want to know the landscape. Where are the rocks, the dirt, the algae?
I go about my day with its dreary bits and it's desperations. Inner songs play through my moments, but they are not ear-worms.
I stop to listen.
'Lay it down, lay it down, down. At the feet of Jesus.' **
The expectation. The trying so hard. The guilt.
A cloth wrung out, a head full of details, instructions, to-dos.
How hard to love others. Even harder, at times, to be truly loved ourselves.
Let it fall.
He touches my head. In the broken I'm being made whole.
When Adam hid in the dark of the day, he wove fig leaves to cover his mistakes.
'Why are you hiding?' God asked.
I once ran. Now my feet are planted. The most glorious moments are the ones where my broken cries out before Him.
A sinner beats His breast, 'Have mercy on me, God!'
A prostitute cries at his feet.
'Son, there ain't nothing you can do'
'I put my hand to the plow, wipe the sweat up off my brow. Scattering the good seed on the way.' *
My children, brought forth with the man My God has chosen. My God, did He choose....
The broken moments, the pain, the struggles. We break bread and drink wine. Come home to the same bed at the end of the day.
My children, formed within me. Each hair numbered, each day written before there was one; every sopping and sodden day, as well as the glorious ones. All side by side, lived out at the speed of light.
'I love you, Hunter,' She tells her brother as they play Sim City after dinner, fights of the day forgotten.
He snuggles his string-bean body, clad in a fleece sleep-suit, against me in bed later that night.
'I love you more than anything, mum.'
The seal must be broken before the wine can be poured out,
'For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.'
Psalm 51:16, 17
We are one person, not two. Treasure in clay, dirt in the water.
The sum of all your parts, undivided before Him, in love.
'So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
Genesis 1:27, 31
* Lyrics from 'Home' - Josh Garells
** Lyrics from 'Laying it all down' - United Pursuit feat. Will Reagan:
Laying it All Down
Bring your worry, grief and pain Every cause you have for shame Lay it all down, lay it all down
When your cares have buried you And there's nothing left to do Lay it all down lay it all down At the feet of Jesus, at the feet of Jesus
Carried on but your heart was tired Feared the worst and felt the fire Lay it all down, lay it all down
Filled with all those anxious thoughts All your doubts became your god Lay it all down, lay it all down
At the feet of Jesus, at the feet of Jesus
Lay it all down Lay it all down Lay it all down Lay it all down
At the feet of Jesus At the feet of Jesus
When we've given up on better days There are memories we can't erase Lay it all down, lay it all down We've come to fear what we can't explain There's nothing here that can ease the pain
Lay it all down, lay it all down At the feet of Jesus, at the feet of Jesus