“3 most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.” – Anne Lamott
I think God needs me vulnerable.
Sometimes I have little capacity for observation. I need to be smacked over the head with a truth in order for it to resonate. This quote from Anne Lamott might seem deflating to some, but to me, I’m only humbled. I have so little control over this life, I might as well just give up all of that control to be used for a greater purpose.
God seems to know a little about being all-powerful and holy. I should just give my life to Him. Easy enough, right? Nope.
I attended a Homeschool Moms’ Retreat back in January. A speaker talked about how she used to think of herself as a pitcher, digging deep into the well of God’s Word and pouring that Word into her children, her friends, her life. She kept feeling empty. The more she poured out, the emptier her life felt. Finally, one day she read the scripture about being jars of clay, a cracked pot, and decided she was a sieve. She didn’t have to empty herself of God. She just allowed Him to run through her cracks. Her holes. Her imperfections.
She learned to allow His word to flow freely through those vulnerable places.
It’s a beautiful image – that God can be more fully experienced through our broken vessels, when we aren’t trying to hold ourselves together to pour whatever cups of life we’ve been offered into others. Instead, we just show up and let God pour through us.
Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow, a tiny little book about her 3 essential prayers, has some real gems. She writes about how we should just own up to the fact that we are all messed up, but we go on serving anyway:
“My personal belief is that God looks through Her Rolodex when She has a certain kind of desperate person in Her care, and assigns that person to some screwed-up soul like you or me, and makes it hard for us to ignore that person’s suffering, so we show up even when it is extremely inconvenient or just awful to be there.”
We just have to show up, and God takes care of the rest.
In light of recent news this week, with an explosion in the heart of Texas and a bombing at the center of Boston’s most beloved tradition, it’s easy to say, “What is the world coming to? What is wrong with this place?”
Well, it’s broken. It has been for a very long time. Do we fear for our lives and shake our heads? Or do we answer the call to show up and join the messy business of communing with broken people?
We don’t need to change the world. We just need to show up. We saw this in the first responders to the Boston Marathon and the runners who kept running an extra two miles to donate blood for the injured. We saw the firefighters who lost their lives protecting others, and the community centers, restaurants, hotels, and churches throughout the area of West, opening up their doors to give a cup of water and a place to rest to those who will never see their home again.
In the face of trauma, tragedy, and pain, the most we can do is offer up ourselves. Show up to the brokenness. Show up and join the mess.
Make a meal for a grieving family.
Be a listening ear for a friend with a troubled marriage.
Take a lonely widow to dinner and listen to every single story. Hold a hand. Cry and laugh.
Open up our homes to someone who just lost theirs.
Throw in a few dollars to help someone with a patch of hard luck.
Embrace a friend with a cancer diagnosis.
We need to let go of the idea that someone in weakness needs someone strong. In fact, our vulnerabilities, our cracks. That’s what makes us approachable, available. Those weaknesses and insecurities in ourselves shine the light needed to comfort the hurting.
When we remember that 1) we are loved, 2) we are a big mess, and 3) there’s not much we can do about it, we stop trying to fill everyone else’s cup, and we just let the strength of God’s grace and mercy wash over all of our own imperfections and fall freely on those who need His healing the most.