I used to think tidiness was one of the highest virtues.
I was a child who cleaned my own room, on my own accord. I liked rulers for making lines, and pencils with exceptional erasers for keeping work clean. I liked routines and consistency. I liked to keep myself together, swipe the messiness under the rug.
Back then I even did my hair (well, sometimes).
My faith was all buttoned up – clean lines, definite definitions – a perfectly wrapped gift from my Savior to myself. I believed there were always ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers, always people who were in and out and easily identified.
I used to think faith was tidy, but now I know it to be beautifully unruly.
Some people crossed my path. They lived outside my orderly ideas. They grabbed the bow on my gift, gave it a tug and unraveled it.
Some professors, correctly, informed me that some Christians believed things wholly other than what I believed. About big issues, but not about Christ. They grabbed the wrapping paper and gave it a tear. Unity in Christ, disunity in many other things; but all – the recipient of The Gift.
Some experiences shocked and shook me, made me want a closer look. I could have walked away, could have decided that the deepening doubt from disappointment of deferred action of God was enough, was permission to just leave The Gift. But I grabbed hold and ripped, wildly, like a child on Christmas morning.
Who is this King of Glory? I want eyes to see! I believe! Help me with my unbelief!
I used to think faith was a tidy, adorned gift, but now I know it to be something in need of daily unpacking. And if we become like little children, we can receive The Gift, opening it with wild anticipation.
I used to think God wanted me tidy, too. After all, I was to be like him. But now I think God wants me honest and vulnerable and willing to say it, reveal it, shine a light on it.
It’s okay to be a mess. All the folks in the Bible were, and they didn’t swipe it under the rug. They took it to the feet of their God. And yelled. And screamed. And begged. And surrendered.
I used to think The Gift was something beautiful, like a delicate china cup to be kept on display, like an alabaster jar of perfume. But now, I think, when I pursue the unravel, I find something more akin to the Beloved Elephant my son still carries around – the most treasured of all toys.
Faith, perhaps, is more like a stuffy than fine china. It goes everywhere with us – the greatest of comforters, the best of companions. It gets beat up along the way. It no longer sings, the stuffing deflates, the ribbon is tattered. The color fades, the softness wanes. But the result – oh, the result – is so much more than the toy that lived on day 1. That toy is entwined with the child. Maybe the extraneous outer beauty of our faith gets buffed away, but the love grows deep. The hope, secured with resolve. The faith – even without steel edge definitions – becomes the very core of identity.
I used to think faith was tidy, but now I know faith is both a beautiful gift and a tattered toy.
This post was written as part of a sychroblog for the release of Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts. Find out more here.