Keeping it Real
Keeping It Real: June 15, 2017
I’m staring at this screen. Writing is always hard for me, but usually I can start. Something disjointed and rambling, but something.
Tonight I got nothing. Nothing.
Could I let myself quit? Maybe just this once? “I mean,” the little voice said, “it’s not like people are waiting for your blog to drop.” I was *just* about to quit.
The phone rang. Praise Jesus! A distraction! I’m not good at phone conversations, but I was actually grateful for this one—that’s how bad the writing was going.
It was my daughter, Spencer. Even better! She said, and I am not even kidding: “Hey! I wanted to call, but I realize it the 15th, so you’re probably working on your blog, right?” It felt like Jesus was trying to keep a straight face, trying not to laugh. REAL subtle, Holy Spirit.
We talked awhile, then I made my reluctant way back to the computer.
Our friend, Jerry, is living here for the month. I complained about the writing. I got nothing! He said, “Just say that. Sometimes you just have to keep it real.”
And Mark texted me from Montreat to say we’re probably more integrated into the life of the world when we’re living it instead of always analyzing and objectifying it. Basically: Just keep it real.
That was pretty much Jesus’s line, too. Mischievous Jesus. “Let the little children come unto me”—you can almost see the twinkle in his eye as the disciples rolled theirs. “Who touched me?” said into a jostling crowd. “Zaccheus, come down! I’m eating at your house tonight.”
Listening to women. Healing on the Sabbath. Teaching with parables that, to this day, make us squirm. Keeping it real.
But honestly. “Let the children come to me” is all fine and good if you’re Jesus or Santa Claus. A quick blessing and, as Matthew says, “he laid his hands on them and went on his way.” At least in Mark’s account he picks them up while he blesses them, but still. It’s not like he was getting them ready for school. That’s when things get pretty real in my house.
Emma had been awake for two hours and changed clothes three times already, but opted for yet a different shirt as I was about to lock the front door. Passersby probably could see the steam coming out of my ears. I calmed down by the first red light, sighed, and said, “I’m sorry I got so angry. But you know better. You know that’s really frustrating!” I glanced back. She was hunched in her carseat, lips pursed, scowling at her mismatched shoes. “Are you okay?” I asked. Tearful--but exasperated--she said, “Well, Mama, I took all your mad and just gave you back all my nice! And now I don’t have any more nice inside me and that makes me sad.”
If I hadn’t been driving I would’ve picked her up and blessed her. As it was, I thanked her. Told her that her giving me nice had make it multiply in me and now I had a lot more to give back to her. Told her she was a good girl, and brave, and I loved her. I laid it on pretty thick. She was starting to enjoy the wounded saint role, so I promised her a gummy pack and changed the subject.
All the way to school I was thinking: that’s the crux. That’s the message. Jesus told us to give back nice for mad and trust him to refill our nice. And then give it away again. Over and over.
I’ve been looking for examples this week. I’ve been doing a so-so job of being an example this week. But the world feels especially fragile; there feels like there’s a lot of mad these days.
A few months ago I read a wonderful book by Fredrik Backman called My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. I was telling Jack about it, because the young girl protagonist described people by what she considered their superpower. We played with that awhile, and I was taken aback when Jack said my superpower was healing people with feelings.
I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “You’ve done it with me before. I was in a really bad mood and I wanted to be mad at you, but you just came at me with all this love and I couldn’t stay mad anymore.”
I think that’s what Jesus calls us to do. To come at this fragile world, to come at all the angry, frightened, hurting people with love. Openhearted, like a child. It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
May the Spirit prod us to move outside ourselves
Beyond what we choose to see
What we want to hear
And what we’d like to think
Into the spaces beyond what we hope to control today.
Where You are.
-Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church U.S.A.