I first met TC through an online blogging workshop we were both taking. We just kind of clicked and turned out we had a mutual friend so our relationship blossomed from there.
Back in February I was joking around one night, posting on Twitter movie quotes and I said that the first person who gets the quote gets a “free” guest spot on my blog. Ha!
Turns out several people commented so I decided to run another series. The word sacred has had several different meanings for me and as my faith ebbs and flows my definition runs with it.
Here to kick off our two month foray into the word sacred and it’s many meanings is TC:
There’s something about a cliché that makes my eye twitch.
…Maybe not literally, but you get the idea.
It’s the same with Christianese and those answers all neatly packaged that serve nothing except to shut down conversation. If I can shut you up with a tidy answer, then I don’t have to entertain your idea as valid. If I lift the drawbridge, then your issue with a certain doctrine or theology shall not pass.
There are those who don’t need to wrestle their beliefs because they’ve arrived at an understanding that soothes their questions. However, there are also those who can’t be in the same room with questions because then they’ll be forced to look that question in the eye, and if they do that, the other questions will line up behind the first, and the faith that seemed to sound, so solid, could get tippy and unstable.
For an example of a lousy cliché, let’s take the beautiful idea that we will never be given more than we can handle.
(This can go hand in hand with the verse that says God will not allow you to be tempted past your endurance, but will always provide a way out. (I Corinthians 10:13))
In the instance of “handling it”, I call bullshit.
We are given more than we can handle, sometimes way more.
Some people don’t handle it – some people don’t have the resources to do so and it isn’t right to expect it of them. Some people could no sooner lift an elephant barehanded than be asked to “handle” one.more.thing.
Some of us are bleeding.
Some of us have heads thick with sorrow.
Some of us buzz with indignation, anger and offense.
We can’t in good conscience be given anything else to handle.
The thing that’s the killer, the thing that makes this both beautiful and infuriating is that many, many times, when we can’t handle it, those are the times when we’ll let someone step into our lives and help us.
Those are sacred moments.
Those are moments I like to avoid.
I don’t want to be in a place where I need help. Darn my pesky individualism but I want to do it myself. I don’t want to be pushed past my endurance. I like being capable, I like managing, I like getting it done. To be unable to “do it” – whatever the “it” is – means admitting a weakness or a shortcoming. However understandable the circumstances, however excusable the reasons, I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want to be pitied. I’d rather pity the fool while wearing thick gold chains and a Mohawk than be the fool myself.
As someone who generally manages and putts along just fine, to be in a place of need is uncomfortable.
Regardless of how uncomfortable, it is also a divine position.
It is a place where I finally allow others to express God’s care for me. It is a time when I stop controlling everything and let God shower me with his provision, his love letters that arrive in the details and the little things.
Sometimes I need to be the guy on the mat.
Relying on the faith of others
Do you know this story?
Jesus was teaching in a packed out house, no room left inside, people leaning in the windows, not even any more standing room. These guys in town had a friend who was paralyzed, and they wanted him to be healed. So they haul this guy on his mat up to the roof of the house. They work and strain and pull away tiles or hardened mud or thatch or whatever they used for roofs in that area. They’re dirty. They’re sweating. And they’re disruptive – there’s no way to be in the room below and not notice something funky going on with the ceiling. Finally they get through the roof and carefully lower this paralyzed man through the hole. I imagine him being kind of folded up at first, like he’s sitting in a roll-away cot or a pull-out couch, until he’s far enough down for the ropes to clear the hole and straighten out his mat.
They lower him down and Jesus forgives him, which causes a stink with the religious leaders. Then Jesus goes to something that is probably like yawning to him, he tells the man to get up and walk. And the man does it. (Luke 5: 12-23)
Here’s the deal: sometimes I need other people to carry me. For any number of reasons, I find myself unable to walk, unable to believe, unable to bear up under the burden of it for one more day. And even if it is in a mystical, transcendental way which I don’t understand, I need to rely on the belief of others to shore me up until I can walk again. This is the place where the sacred visits the scruff, where the divine stoops down, gently smoothes back my hair and offers a cup of water to soothe my scratchy throat.
It is okay to need help. It is okay to be unable to handle it. In those times of need and exhaustion, Jesus himself tucks his head and slings my arm over his shoulder, places his strong arm around my back, and helps walk me to a place of safety and rest, a place I could not get to by myself.
I’d be wise to accept this, rather than limp along under my own power, but how often do I shun the assistance of others or muscle through it, jaw clenched, heart racing?
Much too often.
And why? Because if the acceptance of a sacred mat requires me to be unable to walk, too many times I have crossed my arms, stayed on my feet and been unwilling to see it for what it is:
a holy opportunity for the sacred to draw near.
What holy opportunities have you been offered lately? How did you receive them? How do you tend to cope when given too much to handle?