Friday, April 16, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
Thinking You're Naked by Jon Acuff
Easter is about grace. And when I think about grace, one of the things that stops me short of believing in it is shame. This post, written last year, is about shame and grace and the reason we’re not naked.
I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty awesome at applying band-aids. And make no mistake, there is an art. Because if you go too quickly and peel them the wrong way, they stick to themselves and you end up with a wadded up useless mess instead of the Little Mermaid festooned bandage your daughter so desperately wants to apply to a boo boo that may in fact be 100% fictional.
Half of the injuries I treat at the Acuff house are invisible or simply wounds of sympathy. My oldest daughter will scrape her knee and my 3-year old, realizing the band aid box is open will say, “Yo dad, I’d like to get in on that too. What do you say we put one on, I don’t know, my ankle. Yeah, my ankle, let’s pretend that’s hurt.”
But sometimes the cuts are real, like the day my 5-year old got a scrape on her face playing in the front yard. I rushed in the house and returned with a princess bandage. As I bent down to apply it to her forehead, her eyes filled up with tears and she shrunk back from me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t want to wear that band-aid.” She replied.
“Why? You have a cut, you need a band-aid.” I said.
“I’ll look silly.” She answered.
Other than her sister and her mom, there was no one else in the yard. None of her friends were over, cars were not streaming passed our house and watching us play, the world was pretty empty at that moment. But for the first time I can remember, she felt shame. She had discovered shame. Somewhere, some how, this little 5 year old had learned to be afraid of looking silly. If I was smarter, if I had been better prepared for the transition from little toddler to little girl, I might have asked her this:
“Who told you that you were silly?”
I didn’t though. That question didn’t bloom in my head until much later and I didn’t understand it until I saw God ask a similar question in Genesis 3:11. To me, this is one of the saddest and most profoundly beautiful verses in the entire Bible. Adam and Eve have fallen. The apple is a core. The snake has spoken. The dream appears crushed. As they hide from God under clothes they’ve hastily sewn together, He appears and asks them a simple question:
“Who told you that you were naked?”
There is hurt in God’s voice as He asks this question, but there is also a deep sadness, the sense of a father holding a daughter that has for the first time ever, wrapped herself in shame.
Who told you that you were not enough?
Who told you that I didn’t love you?
Who told you that there was something outside of me you needed?
Who told you that you were ugly?
Who told you that your dream was foolish?
Who told you that you would never have a child?
Who told you that you would never be a father?
Who told you that you weren’t a good mother?
Who told you that without a job you aren’t worth anything?
Who told you that you’ll never know love again?
Who told you that this was all there is?
Who told you that you were naked?
I don’t know when you discovered shame. I don’t know when you discovered that there were people that might think you are silly or dumb or not a good writer or a husband or a friend. I don’t know what lies you’ve been told by other people or maybe even by yourself.
But in response to what you are hearing from everyone else, God is still asking the question, “Who told you that you were naked?”
And He’s still asking us that question because we are not.
In Christ we are not worthless.
In Christ we are not hopeless.
In Christ we are not dumb or ugly or forgotten.
In Christ we are not naked.
Isaiah 61:10 it says:
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.
The world may try to tell you a thousand different things today. You might close this post and hear a million declarations of what you are or who you’ll always be, but know this.
As unbelievable as it sounds and as much as I never expected to type this sentence on this blog:
You are not naked.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
When we miss the golden eggs @ Stuff Christians Like
~totally borrowed and definitely worth sharing
A few days ago, a friend asked me about an experience that made me want to throw up.
The event was something that happened a year ago. I’ve written about it before but his question sparked something new.
We were at an Easter egg hunt at my in-law’s country club. We go every year and this is no minor hunt. The main difference is that in each field of eggs, they hide a few golden ones. If you find a golden egg you can turn it in and get a massive Easter basket with candy and toys and stuffed animals.
So while we were waiting for the host of the event to blow the horn and let my then five year old daughter L.E. run into the field, I spotted a golden egg about 15 feet away. I pointed it out to L.E. and told her that when the horn sounded she should run at it. She was really excited and focused all her bubbling pre-school energy on getting that egg.
Unfortunately, so did another little girl.
When the horn sounded, L.E. took off, and she was almost there, but she was half a step too slow. She slipped, fell in the mud and watched as the other little girl got the egg.
She got up and collected a few regular eggs half heartedly. When it was all over, she took a look at the other girl’s family celebrating their golden egg and then collapsed in my arms and started weeping.
Do you know what I did in that moment? Do you know what I told her?
I told her I didn’t want to hold her. I told her that she had failed and that she had to fix the situation before I would look at her again. I told her I was disappointed that she was constantly making the same mistakes over and over again and that she needed to live with the consequences of her actions until she figured out how to fix things.
OK, that’s not what I told her at all.
I held her close and let her cry. I told her it was OK. That she was special and beautiful and that we can get mud out of Easter dresses. I told her it was going to be alright.
That was my reaction when L.E. fell. That was my reaction when L.E. failed. So why do we think God will react differently?
Why when we fail, why when we fall into the mud and miss the target, do we think God is angry at us? That he pushes us away and wants us to buck up and clean up before we try to come back into his presence?
What if we’re wrong about God? What if He’s a better father than Jon Acuff is? What if his heart breaks when we fall down, not out of disappointment, but shared sadness with us? What if weeping on his shoulder is all we need to do today?
You could argue that L.E. missing the egg wasn’t a sin and I’d agree. But the times when she does break a rule at home, the times when she lies, the times when she does willfully step away from some family agreement, I don’t tell her to fix herself before she returns. I might discipline out of love, but I never push her away or lock her out of the house or shut her out of my heart until she’s made the situation right.
And I’m just a human father! A broken, prone to stumble father. Imagine how beautiful our God’s reaction is. Christ touches on this in Luke 11:
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
I don’t know where your life is right now. I don’t know if you’re in the middle of a divorce or mountain of credit card debt or had a dad that would have yelled at you for missing the golden egg. I don’t know how muddy you are or how many times you’ve fallen this year or this life. But I do know one thing, we serve a God who we are told longs to show you compassion.
A God who holds muddy kids.
A God who wants to hold you.Posted using ShareThis
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.These are the things I learned:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don't hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don't take things that aren't yours.
- Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.[Source: "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN" by Robert Fulghum. See his web site at http://www.robertfulghum.com/ ]