Friday, April 18, 2014

Broken Spoon, Broken People

We live in a world where nothing is of value until someone else wants it.

I learn this everyday as I watch my kids interact. The most revealing moments come in the oddest of situations. For instance, if my daughter is playing with a broken spoon (I swear, I give her cool toys, but it's the trash she ends up liking most) my son will notice her simple joy and his envy-tastic wheels start spinning.

How come she's happier with that broken spoon than I am with my embarrassingly abundant collection of toys? It must be because that spoon is better than what I have. Must. Have. Broken. Spoon. 

In an instant my son will literally dart from across the room–leaving his super cool dinosaur collection and 500-page Dinosaur Encyclopedia (which I spend hours reading and thus butchering six-syllable scientific names in order to appease him) to snatch the utterly worthless from her hand.

He has no idea why he does what he does. Once the broken spoon is in his possession he realizes it's well, a broken spoon, and it wasn't worth the effort. He drops it on the floor and my daughter scoops it up giggling and runs in the opposite direction to protect her treasure.

My son forgets what he has just learned, chases after her, and the whole process starts again.

What's the difference between my son and daughter's perspective of the spoon? Somewhere inside my son believes he is being lied to. He thinks someone is holding out on him. He thinks what he has been given isn't enough. And even worse, he can't appreciate what he has in light of what he doesn't have.

Just in case you're worried that I am playing favorites, I am also aware that my daughter is just too young to realize that she is playing with a broken spoon and that someday that trash she is obsessed with may be her prom date–but that's an entirely different blog.

So let's hit the pause button and take a moment. Let's admit that even though we are parents to these little terrorists and that we should be experts in managing this type of behavior, we aren't. This is because even as adults we still do this. We look at our kids, our bodies, our jobs (or lack thereof) our faith, our freedom, and our "right" to be whoever it is that makes life easiest–and we declare it our property.

We wriggle free from the grasp of God's best and cling to our stuff with a kung-fu grip. We, in some capacity, believe that we have a right to declare what is ours. And most often, this means that our hearts and our souls are off limits. We snatch our identity right out of God's hands and we put him in the line up among the hundreds of other distractions we entertain ourselves with and pick him up to play with only when it serves us most to do so.

And when I say "we", I really mean me. If I'm honest with myself: I still want a broken spoon.

I want more. I want to be liked by everyone. I want my kids to be liked by everyone. I want to impress people. I want to surprise people with my giftings. I want all of this worthlessness in light of what I know to be meaningfulDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:3-4. 

I am currently reading Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker per my dear friend and pastor's wife's recommendation. If you don't own this book I suggest you buy it- NOW. She speaks to our responsibility as parents in one of her chapters. And it resonated with me.

She said that our children will "learn innocent shrewdness–or not– from you. It is not your responsibility to raise perfect prototypes of holiness, fit to set on a pedestal and admire. Your job is to send your children into this world as disciples who understand their mission and who will contend for God's glory."

She goes on to say that it is not our job as Christians to defend Jesus, but to represent him. And today, I can honestly say that is a terrifying thought. But, I can represent him to my children–and to the people I share my life with–in the middle of my most debased humanity by laying down the trash I am obsessed with and admit I'm far too easily pleased.

Today, in this moment, I am still playing tug-of-war with Jesus over a broken spoon. But the redemptive idea is this: I am a broken person. He broke his body for me on the cross. He rose again to do away with that brokenness. And even if I spend the rest of my life laying that down at his feet when I continually forget what is of value in the shadow of the valueless- that's all he asks.

All he asks is that broken people admit they desire the broken spoon.

We're in this together,

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