Recently I’ve come to two realizations. The first is that I’ve spent twenty years expecting my Christianity to cure me of my humanity. The second (and more sobering) is that rather than rid me of my human nature, I believe God’s intent has been to walk me down the steep, dark path straight into the middle of it.
To behold God is to know how very human we are.
To clarify, when I say humanity I am not talking about “sin”. Sin is the plight of humanity, not humanity itself. We were made fully human before we ever tasted of the knowledge of good and evil. To be human is not bad. Rather, it is the wisdom and creativity of God. But for all else it may be, to be human is to need. We need food, water, air, shelter, exercise, love, identity, purpose (the list is much longer) and I find this is where I buck against the saddle.
I wanted Christ to be a magic wand that cured me of need; that made me whole, super-natural, otherly. I have tried to use faith and religion to transcend my normal “pathetic” human state and attain to some more holy place. Most of these desires have some basis in a spiritual truth but I find with striking clarity that my motive was wrong. In the truest case I was wanting all the transformation that the Holy Spirit offers, not so that I could draw further into God but so that, in the most foolish of ironies, I did not need to.
I’m sprinting towards forty and am just now seeing that need is the gift of God. I have hated my needs. In my home we playfully acknowledge that at times my unorthodox design means I have “special needs”. I have so often wasted my days resenting this- fighting this- pleading to be free of this! The enemy of my heart has used it as a constant source of accusation; selling me the lie again and again that I should have it together by now. That I should be more than I am. That if I was truly “saved” I would not need.
Needs are not flaws. They are the places of encounter.
Needs are the path that lead us into the revelation of God’s great sufficiency and even more relevant, His kind intention towards us. As it reads “good will towards men on whom His favor rests.” I cannot experience the fullness of His glory without first realizing the depth of my need. And my goodness does the need run deep. As my husband I mulled over this concept a few days ago I jokingly referenced a scene from Ace Ventura where he laments “It’s in the bone! It’s in the bone!” ( If you need a laugh here’s the clip).
As humans the need is in the very marrow of our bone. To fill the need with anything other than God is where sin enters the picture. It is to place in those God-given voids anything other than actual relationship with Him. So many of the blessings He means for me to enjoy turn to rot in my soul because I try to use them to meet the need. Success tarnishes into perfectionism. Belonging deconstructs into the need for approval. Pleasures balloons into addiction. Discipline calcifies into religion. None of them can withstand the weight of my need… but He can.
In fact not only can He withstand it, He can understand it.
He knows I am created. He knows I need. He never expected me to be autonomous. Not in the sense that I want to be. He understands that I am prone to pride. I’m susceptible to deception. He still says yes and amen! He has a great sense of humor and He’s not threatened by my weaknesses. In fact He is glorified in them by showing the abundance of His mercy. He’s patient, and kind and despite all the challenges that come with being a needy creation living in a fallen world, He’s making me more like Himself every day through the power of His love.
Maybe… just maybe, being human isn’t such a bad thing after all.
The rumors are true. My back porch is full of garbage bags. In the blistering thirty degrees below zero that’s as far as they made it. Between that and the fact my friends are tagging me in all their “Tidying Up” related posts I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially on the bandwagon. And while I loathe bandwagons the truth is I am shamelessly pro Marie Kondo. Here’s why…
Firstly, she’s adorable. I mean seriously. Have you seen her? You can’t look at her and not smile. I mean it. She’s so stinkin cute. I believe much of that cuteness comes from her gentle demeanor. It doesn’t feel like there’s much room for gentleness in a world so fast and fierce. This is all the more true for me when I am looking for change. Mentally I’m suiting up in armor and approach my home/children/budget like I’m about to fight the holy wars. Marie reminds me that gentleness may be a more sustainable approach to change; even drastic change. I find her manner to be a breath of fresh air!
Secondly, she’s actually demonstrating some of the most basic disciplines. Gratitude. Simplicity. Silence. Have you seen everyone get all moppy-eyed up when she “greets the home”? It’s like no one even knows how to hold still long enough to be where they are. Oh, and Joy! She doesn’t have the corner of the market on that either. The fact is these are some of the great spiritual disciplines that the church left behind a century ago and her uproarious success should be a sign to us that the world is hungry. They are hungry for a more honest path.
I’m not saying that everyone who wants a clean closet is willing to give up their rights and follow Jesus. I’m saying that there appears to be room for us to bear witness to the world in the simplicity, joy and tranquility of our life (I have five children so we interpret the word tranquility loosely). It’s the practice of intentional engagement with the daily things of life. It’s refusing to sprint through our days and our homes in mindless exasperation instead of savoring and examining each point.
I will never greet my home or thank my clothing but you better believe there is power in actually considering what we’ve been given, giving thanks for what we have and letting go of all the extra that really just makes our lives more difficult. And regardless of whether Marie Kondo ever finds out who’s actually on the other side of all that gratitude we should be giving, she reminds me to do it and for that I applaud her.
And really… she is adorable.