For Dane: you rock.
So my cabinets are still full. Less empty than when I started trying to eat myself out of house and home two months ago (you can read about that ambition here On Reduction), but still full.
I want to blame someone, as we mortals love to do, so I look around and spy the youngest boy child, home from school, six-foot-crazy and hungry like the wolf. It’s his fault I have to keep buying new food, his fault that he’s too picky to eat canned beets and couscous and mac-n-cheese from the Clinton administration (trust me, nothing that color ever expires), his fault that I had to exceed my $5/week food allowance.
But hold on.
Doesn’t buying food for him mean that I, too, get to enjoy grass-fed beef, fresh lemon- blueberry bagels (don’t ask), greengreen salad, and Cherry Garcia? Technically, even though it was purchased for him, the stuff ended up in my cabinet, and is, therefore, fair game. Flex-rules and all that. Yay.
I’m getting closer to empty, but I’m not there yet. He goes back to school soon, though, so it’s back to the beets for me. Yay. Not.
I’ve been trying to clean off some other shelves in my life.
My realtor-slash-faithful-friend-who-makes-me-belly-laugh walked me through my house the other day. It was a surreal experience, seeing your space through another’s eye.
Apparently I’ve got a lot of clutter that has to go. Apparently prospective home buyers don’t want to see pictures of your kids on the Everest ride at Disney or your collection of Appalachian Trail rocks. Go figure.
And books! So many books. I’m like a crow with shiny things, me and my books. Ruthlessly, I pull each one down from its dusty perch, searching for clues.
Are you worthy to be saved?
Weeping, I box up the ugly step children and haul them away to the swap shop at the dump, where hopefully they will be adopted by another mother. Weeping, I open the jewels I choose to save, pulling out old bookmarks made from children’s notes of apology or reading passages highlighted by a hand that no longer resides here. Teaching texts. The complete collection of Madeline. Blue Like Jazz.
I must let go.
Closets next. Hopeful clothes in sizes too small, colors too bold, fabrics too hard to press. Who am I becoming, now? A person not afraid to dine alone? Someone who still reaches for the phone to call her mother, but then, remembers, a gut-punch? A girl who never wanted to grow up?
What would that person wear?
I want to be brave like my friend Sarah, who has walked this road longer than I, a fierce soul who boxed up her own memories and is ready to forge ahead into a future that cannot yet be seen.
I want to be strong like my friend Cilla, who marches the beach wielding an invisible sword, daring God to answer our prayers.
I want to be soft like my friend Aggie, who is not afraid to hold my hand or show me grace or send her husband over to snow blow my driveway.
I want to be like my children, who are determined and loyal and bold.
But broken? Who ever asks for that?
And yet, it is a gift more precious than all the rest.
Who but the broken can deliver compassion? Who but the broken can grieve with her sisters? Who but the broken can pray with authority, come alongside, trust in the God who is both known and unknowable?
Who but the broken can ever truly understand what it finally means to be whole?
As I pack up my past and sort and select, I am reminded of the One who walked this stoney earth with nothing more than the cloak on His back and the sandals on His feet. Jesus never cared about stuff.
He was called the Man of Sorrows, who wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus, even as He purposed to give him new life. The Godman who “grew up…like a tender shoot, was pierced for our transgressions, …was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 2,5).
I’m trying to come to terms with a God whose will it is to break and crush.
One of the toughest verses in the Bible for me is Isaiah 53:10, which says of Jesus: “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief…”
Who but an infinite, unknowable God would be pleased to crush His own Son?
Why would He do such a thing? And what are the implications for me, for us? The answer makes me tremble and sing.
That despite the fact that we mock Him and spit on Him and deny Him every day with our pettiness and anger and cruelty and unbelief, Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be driven through with spikes on splintered wood so that we could be free from the brokenness that determines to destroy.
Are you worthy to be saved?
No, we are not. Which makes Easter all the more marvelous. Our Father never meant for us to be broken, but He knows the only path to wholeness is through identification with His broken Son. That “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
It’s getting easier to let go, comforted by the assurance that God is never caught by surprise. That His hand is wise. That He would never ask of us what He didn’t already ask of His very own Son.
Even though I empty my fridge and empty my shelves and empty my heart, He is standing by, ever ready to fill and fill and fill to overflowing.