I like to post pictures of pretty things online. Sometimes the pretty things are parts of the house I live in. But nobody's house is perfect. Every house that is lived in gets messy. Every house that stands long enough gets broken and weathered. Not so different from the human spirit. We get broken. We get weathered. We're not perfect. In fact, we don't have a whole lot to brag about. I was telling one of my friends about the holes we discovered in our wood floor after buying our home and my friend said, "I love that there are holes in your floor!" - we are delighted to know that others experience the same imperfect life that we do. It helps us to feel less alone. And it's the truth.
This is a rug. It is covering up a hole. In the floor. I'm not showing you the hole because I'm afraid bugs will crawl out! It's not a huge hole, but it's ugly. It was created by termites, so it runs in thin lines from one floor board to another. Some of the boards are caving in spots and others just barely etched by the evil little genius bugs. And what was our genius fix for this problem? Put a rug on it! Several wise friends advised us to do this. Someday we'll probably be able to do better than that . . . . but today? Today a rug is all we can handle.
I have holes in my soul. I've got a pile of songs scratched into my notebook - heavy handed and bitter sometimes.
We have ways of covering up our missing pieces, don't we? With stories of our own success. With stories about the failures of other people. With self depreciating humor. This is not what God is asking of us - we don't have to put ourselves down in front of God. His love and acceptance is complete. We are only asked to lift God up and to be honest. Honesty isn't something we embrace in this culture when it comes to appearances . . . but God values honesty. Have you seen the conversations that God has with folks in the Old Testament? Have you seen how Jesus talks to people? Honesty. Openness. Acceptance. God is not afraid of our problems.
These blinds are in the extra bedroom. They were here when we bought it. They were broken then. They are broken now. This is how they look every single day. Crooked. Poorly balanced.
Someday we'll be able to buy new ones. For now? They do their job alright. They cover up the window when it needs to be covered. They can still be pulled up to let in the sunlight.
Are they pretty? No.
Are they perfect? No.
None of us are perfectly balanced in our lives. Things to pull us down until we are lopsided. You know the names of these things: worry, fear, jealousy, anxiety, greed, miscommunication, unrealistic expectations . . . . your list might be different - these are just a few of my own frequent visitors.
Good News - God can work with that. God isn't afraid to let us live in His house when we're struggling and barely functioning. In fact, Jesus had a way of finding those who were weighed down. Jesus had a way of talking to those people - reminding them of the love of God. We don't have to be in perfect condition to meet with Jesus.
This is a bunch of junk in the music studio. This is what it looks like when a space actually gets used. Yup. I work in here. I write songs in here. I practice for concerts and plan lessons for school in this room. Robbie practices in here. We record music in here. The piano is covered in loose papers. The little garbage can by the desk is overflowing.
Also? I keep calling it a music studio . . . . it has a piano and a keyboard in it. It also has the family printer, two book shelves full of miscellaneous stuff, a treadmill (that takes up most of the room), and various bags that we carry back and forth to our respective work places. It's crowded, friends, very crowded. This is not a space soon to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens.
Our lives are crowded. They are over crowded. We feel like we have to do everything. We feel like we have to be everything! We are not satisfied with being healthy, kind human beings. We must be successful people. We have to be important people. We have to be needed by other people. (ok, so those are some of my struggles - maybe we share them in common?) We are in deep need of simplification.
There's a song by Leonard Bernstein that I love. I love it so much. I could sing it all day long. It's called "Simple Song" and comes from a larger work called Mass.
During the first page Bernstein makes a bold statement: "God is the simplest of all."
It's a hard thing to swallow. We think of God as being the biggest thing, the most important thing, the only thing. But that's the problem - God is not a thing. We do not own God. We did not make God.
Who are you, God? "I am that I am." or "I am who I am." or "I will be who I will be."
Our job description is not so complicated as we've made it for ourselves. Here it is (Micah 6:8):
1) Do justice.
2) Love kindness.
3) Walk humbly with God.
And then there's this: three things remain- faith, hope, and love . . . and the most important one? Love.
None of these are answers. I don't have any answers for anybody. I have tons of questions! Millions of questions. Along with my questions I am developing a sense of hope, though. And I pray that you can share it. The hope that we don't have to be scared of our missing pieces and our unfinished rooms.
I might always finish by talking about Brother Lawrence. I just love that crazy monk! He talked in his letters about messing up. He spent his life working in the kitchen of the monastery. He messed up on his job sometimes. And he said the only thing to do for that was to immediately say to God, "Sorry about that!" and move on right away. Keep going. God knows about it. You talked to God about it. Now go on. Let it be. And as you let it be . . . . guess what? God will be who God will be. And God has such love for you.
This is a gratuitous "bad" photo of me. Just so you know that there are lots and lots of bad photos of all of us. What I love about this photo is that I didn't feel beautiful at all when it was taken, but I had let these awesome kids at camp braid my hair - they were from the Bahamas. And it was such a great bonding experience. For us, growing in trust for each other, it was a beautiful thing. Even though I didn't feel lovely after sleeping on the ground up the mountain and not showering, etc. - I felt such love about that experience.
Love is more beautiful than pretty pictures.