*This post is not intended to poke fun of the Black Lives Matter movement. And the fact that I have to declare that is super sad.
The more my readership has grown, the more I’ve tried to write to a broader audience, while still maintaining a semblance of authenticity in regards to why I write in the first place, which is to share a piece of my heart in the hopes that it makes you think.
This balance has been pretty tricky, however, and for a few months I had to take a break because I didn’t think I could keep sharing. Situations were occurring in my family that needed my full attention.
And I realized a hard truth: The situations were always there and would always be there. If not one, then another. Then another, like issue upon issue.
If your child’s not sick, your mom might be. Or your husband, or grandfather, or even the family pet.
A sister will be angry at you for one thing, and a brother-in-law, another. And your kids? Perpetually mad. You do nothing right in the eyes of a 13-year-old girl, believe me.
The house is falling apart, and the car needs repairs.
Work is a mess. Always. A hot mess.
You’re not feeling too hot yourself these days, and who would even begin to talk about your marriage?
There are tiny little hairline cracks everywhere in this messed up world. And when the hairline cracks meet, they form a giant crack that leads to a gaping hole.
It seems that in my own life, there have been a series of hairline cracks that have led to big holes. It’s as if I can’t get any one area of my life patched up enough to keep it from cracking again.
If you’ve experienced one of those lucky lives, the kid who was raised with Ward and June, had the perfect college existence, found a fantastic spouse and job and are now raising your own perfect kids in a perfect house, hand claps to you.
Seriously, send me your secrets and I’ll gladly put them to practice in my own home. I spent yesterday buffing my minivan because my child decided to practice his love note skills by keying a heart into the side of it.
In 2006, I had been married for five years. (Back then I thought I should have gotten an award for that, by the way. Talk about a hard five years! Props to Clayford for sticking it out.)
I had recently rededicated my life to Christ. I was baptized again.
I thought dunking in that water would wash me clean of some dark sins from my past.
I thought it would magically make me love this little life I had chosen. A life I was hell-bent on making work.
I thought it would make me want to be a better person. Make me want to stay with my husband and kids, stop drinking more than necessary, stop being so angry at my family of origin.
Stop hating my own reflection.
You know where the story is going, of course.
Dipping down in the holy water didn’t do a single thing for me. In fact, it made matters worse, because I now had self-condemnation to contribute to the list of bad feelings. Why couldn’t I change? What was wrong with me?
To add to the confusion, I decided to read my Bible from start to finish that year like Good Christian Belles should do.
Now, I don’t know how many of you have read the Bible start to finish, but I imagine quite a few.
If you are reading it in a Christian Bible study group, or with a devotional or whatever, you’re probably hearing a commentary of whatever you’re reading, meaning a person or group of people came together and decided what a certain story or passage meant.
I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to read EXACTLY what was written on the page, without help, and in Paul’s words, allow God to lay on my heart what He wanted me to get out of it.
Here’s what I got out of it: What in the WORLD was I following?
Let’s be honest, Christian friends: At face value, the Bible is pretty scary.
It’s chock full of contradictions (spare me the reasoning as to why they’re not–they just are and we all know it), and full of LOTS of rules and commands and beliefs that we don’t follow today, despite the fact that we go around preaching that we’re supposed to follow the entire Word of God.
I won’t say reading the Bible left me empty, because that wouldn’t be true. I don’t think the Bible leaves anyone void.
Instead, it left me seeking so much more.
I wanted a deeply personal relationship with my Creator.
I wanted to know Him. Not what people said He said in a thousands-year-old book. No, I wanted Him, no strings attached.
Not knowing Him to get my way, as it had been in the past. Not praying to Him because I wanted Him to give me something I didn’t have, or fix something that was broken.
I was searching for His presence in my life.
Slowly but surely, I found Him. Not through His word, but through His Creation.
I’d prayed for Him to show me BIG, and He began to open my eyes to just how BIG and spiritual this world really is.
I saw it in other religions seeking to have their own authentic relationship with the Creator.
I noticed it in the trees, in birds and animals. In seasons and holidays.
I heard God in my babies’ laughter, and I watched for signs of Him whenever Clayford looked into my eyes, deep down to my soul.
Strangely, I felt so spiritual at my grandmother’s funeral, as if Jesus were sitting right there among us, visible and mourning, too.
There are a lot of imperfections in this world. Many, many hairline cracks. We’re all just trying to do the best we can out here.
And I sometimes wonder if we cause the gaping holes by trying to get rid of the hairline cracks. By trying to make everything perfect and perfectly one-sided—black/white, holy/unholy, friend/enemy, good/bad—if we are causing more harm than good.
You can’t read the Bible and miss the human in these stories. You can’t pass over or explain away the sin in these people’s lives.
Moses was a murderer. (Actually, just about everyone in the Bible but Jesus was a murderer. And if Jesus is God, then Jesus commanded the killing of quite a few.)
David was an adulterer and so much more.
Jacob and Rahab? Liars. Rahab’s lie was even credited to her as righteousness.
Solomon was a philanderer who loved money.
And that’s just the Old Testament. I could write a book about all the things Paul does to make the Sin List. (Paul grates my nerves a little. God and I discuss this daily.)
But Paul admits the reality of life: We all have thorns that God keeps in our flesh.
Sometimes, it’s not up to us to pull them out. It’s up to us to accept them, accept with gratitude the unbelievable amount of grace God hands out for absolutely nothing.
Accepting grace doesn’t cost us a thing. Only costed Him. Everything.
Imagine if we stopped making life so black and white. Imagine if we decided that the grey was the perfect place to be.
Imagine the compassion we could bestow on one another if we took a giant step off the hairline cracks and let the dry ground rest for half a second.
If we untied the heavy yolk we’ve placed on the backs of the hurting.
If we simply followed Jesus’ command to love one another.
Forget about the rest of the world for a moment. This country, Land of the Beautiful, is facing the most important election of our time.
NOT because of the person who might potentially become our next president.
No, we are facing the most important election because of what comes AFTER that day.
Will we come together?
Will we step into the grey or continue to stand by in the shadows of either corner?
I decided this week what I will do:
I will celebrate and appreciate the fact that we live in what many consider the greatest country of the world. Most of us did nothing to deserve that. We were simply born in the right place.
I will choose to honor our elected leader, and I will believe he or she was chosen fairly and by God’s purpose. (And if you believe the Bible, it clearly states such.)
And I will reach across party, religious and socioeconomic lines to begin to understand those who might think and look differently than I do.
Not in the Pollyanna way of accepting, where all goes and all is perfectly fine to do. There is no good that comes from accepting what hurts our country and each other.
That’s not good at all. But I will work for authentic acceptance that brings about goodness and real change. For all of us.
Because I would hope those on the other side of the imaginary line would do the same to understand me.
Otherwise, they are just as much a part of the problem as they are the solution.
And we will continue to divide until there is nothing but a gaping hole where our country should be.