“Cleaning lady wanted to remove after-reno dust. NO grime!” There’s a single red line underscoring the dust and a double one under the all-caps NO. She has given no name, just an impersonal phone number, as though she can't even bear to have the dust associated with her.
The note on the bulletin board makes me smile with understanding. Isn’t this what I’ve done for years with “I’m fine”? Nope, no grime here. No ordinary human muck or pain. A little dust, maybe, but even that was created by someone else and all for the grand purpose of beautification.
It’s what we want others to think. No pain. No problem. We’ve got it all under control.
The problem is twofold: we don’t have it all under control. (Life is way too complex for that.) And we ache to know the truth: "Does God really love me?" Me – the real me. Not the ideal me. Or, to put it another way, “Is God’s grace big enough for all of me?” And that question can only be answered in one place: right in the middle of the mess.
It's okay to hurt. In fact, it’s grace that lets us hurt. Grace lets us feel the weight of our brokenness because only then can we discover that Love delights in us regardless of whether we can “fix it” or not. (Why do I keep forgetting that this is the good news, that He came for me because I couldn’t fix myself? And because He loved me enough to refuse to let go?)
Grace lets us hurt. But He only lets us hurt in order to heal us. He’s a surgeon with a scalpel, a nurse with a needle, a mother removing a splinter.
We can dare to let him open the messy places, dare to admit that we don’t have it all together because of this promise: “The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (1 Pet 2:6) “We may be battered and hurting and often confused, but we will not be disappointed or shamed by the incompetence of the one we chose to follow.” That’s how the Greek prof said it, right after she told us that this verse uses the strongest possible negation the Greek language can support. We cannot stake it all on him and be disappointed. It is impossible.
I step out onto the walk where the clouds hang low and the ground and benches are strewn with the fallen after the wind. They’re there, hundreds of little reminders that, like all things, the tears are given to draw us deeper into his heart of love.