Dust to Dust
Last night my headache was so bad, I didn’t make dinner. No dinner for all six of us.
Abby made her own sandwich, and I dragged myself off the couch to make a sandwich each for Isaac and Benjamin and poor Susanna had to make do with a bottle. Tim ate this and that and mostly ice cream, which actually suits him well, since it reminds him of bachelor days. Some nights go like that. Some mornings go like this (see picture from Instagram).
Mom of the year for sure.
On Monday, I’m full of vim and vigor and productivity, and by Tuesday evening, I might be spent.
I desire to be completely whole and consistent. Like most desires, good mixes with bad like watercolor paints. I strive to grow, but also I desire to be like God– all-sufficient, rather than needy and weary and human.
Anne Lamott writes, “Life is not like formula fiction. The villain has a heart, and the hero has great flaws. ”
Within the course of one day, I am both superhero mom with great flaws and a villain with a good heart. I am sacrificial and selfish and kind and cold all in a day’s work of the heart. I truly believe we do grow spiritually, putting off more and more of our flesh and stepping into our Christ-identity. But I used to think Christian maturity meant achieving some kind of zen-Christian-faith state whereby life doesn’t get me down, trials don’t offset me, and anger is practically nonexistent. I don’t know where I got that impression, but it certainly wasn’t from my Bible, where we see the full spectrum of human emotions displayed.
People don’t need two dimensional paper-doll Christians who confirm what they most fear anyway–that they are constantly falling short. They need living, breathing, struggling flesh-and-blood believers crying even as they try to rejoice, raging in prayer even as they seek to submit to God’s sovereignty, longing for holiness even as they struggle against sin. If we want people to see Christ in us, they need to see our faith as it works out in our anger, sadness, jealousy, laziness, anger, and fear.
Timothy Keller says every emotion should be processed through prayer. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel it first. We don’t want to be people who act on every emotion, but neither do we need to be people who feel everything dimly, numb from repression.
I am learning to feel strong emotions and rather than guilt myself, to ask why. To give space for compassion for me, which makes me softer to others, too.
How am I feeling? What is beneath that anger? That fear? That envy? That sadness?
So you’re up and down and left and right and sideways with your emotions this week? Good. It means you’re alive, your heart is beating, and there’s red blood running in your veins. God’s given you this one patch of life in the whole of eternity and today, this moment you’re feeling exactly as you ought to feel, whatever it is. Process it in prayer, by all means, but don’t stuff it, numb it, or distract yourself away from it.
Feel it to heal it.
Let’s not laud the stoics. Let’s be fully alive and fully human and fully aware of what we are and what we’re not. We’re not the Christ, but we’re not nothing either. We’re made of dust and to dust we will return, but let’s not forget that dust is the stuff of stars and rainbows and diamonds, strong and beautiful and unyielding. Don’t despise your humanity; celebrate it, respect it, understand it, embrace it.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10