The indoor-sanctioned rubber ball left his foot and I could see right where it was headed, like he was doing target practice. Caedmon has serious power for an eight year old and it slammed into the glass, sent it scraping across the kitchen table. It crashed on the wood floor sending glittering shards sailing across the kitchen.
It was one of those thick drinking glasses from World Market, the kind with a bee embossed on the side and the word “PARIS” stamped on the bottom. Napoleon drank out of one of these, or so the legend goes. I sip my water and close my eyes and I remember afternoons in an outdoor café with an open journal before the children were born.
I stood there frozen, deciding how upset to get. The children gathered silent looking over the scene of the accident. “I’m sorry mom,” Caed whispered, tears falling.
“Keep the ball down. You know you will lose privileges for indoor play if you don’t…keep…the…ball…down.” My voice was calm but unusually low. I had reached for a new octave. Then I pulled him onto my lap, whispered my forgiveness, praying his heart would stay whole and healed. I echoes words I heard his dad say just that morning, “Remember, buddy, just like your heavenly Father, I will always forgive you the minute you say you are sorry.” Nonchalant, the kids went off into unknown worlds to play
I stood over the pieces, picking up the large crescent shape with the embossed bee and the sliced shards.
All our views of God are broken fragments of our fallen world and our view of love? It follows suit.
Because that understanding of perfect love we have? The one we think we have? It was shattered with every imperfection of every authority figure that towered over us when we were a child.
The hurtful word that still rings…smash.
That act of neglect with the silence too loud…fragmented our experience of love and of perfect love Himself.
Every time our parents yelled impatient, cut us down rude and pushed us away self-seeking. When they counted our sins and kept that record of wrongs or exploded easily angered scraping unkind.
Every time their love was a distorted image of 1 Corinthians 13’s perfect love, our view of love skewed too.
Sometimes as during a trauma or abuse our view of love is hammer smashed and all we are left standing looking at sparkles dangerous, our heart shattered. All around us nothing to piece back together, just thin slivers that cut and bleed, scab and tear and bleed again.
The generations do this for each other and person after person all the way from Adam have been denied unspoiled love and have generously handed the next generation some version of the same.
Our view of love shatters over and over and over until we hold it up, an unholy mismatch of shards and try to gaze at golden Love through its twisted web.
We try piecing together the love of the Universe from eyes unhealed. And this….this is the unholy stained glass window through which we glimpse our God. Light fractures, but the picture garbles. We have small distorting pieces and we’ve never been shown the real thing through the real hands and feet of those resident on earth and so can’t wrap our minds around it.
And our God, the one we picture after we’ve fallen, stumbled, scraped, He’s not the real God. He’s not towering over us ready to slap. We have a Prodigal Father God who waits for the returned son (daughter) on tippy toes, who can’t wait to throw a grace embroidered coat over the shoulders of those who come bowed down.
But we have fallen minds, bruised hearts and our emotional pictures are tied to strings of the past and we bring them all jumbled lifted up in our hands to our picture of God.
We can’t help it.
Much of the Christian life is a search and discovery trip. In fact, that’s been my homework this week. Excavation. I’m in an inner healing class on Tuesday mornings (where I get to be participant, such a joy!) and my job is to fill this unbroken glass with strip after strip of scripture scrawled teaching who God truly is, to engrave on my heart a more whole, Scriptural image of God.
What a wonderful Lenten discipline this is.
I search these thin pages of the Bible for the true God, beg that He will reveal Himself. I pray for eyes healed, cataracts removed for a full God vision transformation.
And you, friend, I want you to hear this too. His true love for you is always good. He always has your best interest at heart. He is always on your team. He will never abandon or neglect. He never thinks what we bring to Him fearfully lifting it up in our hands is too small. He never thinks we are less important, less worthy than the other child next to us. He always has a hope and a future planned for us.
One of the great images of true love is of a child with a mother, held tight. Do infants earn points, do anything to make that mother love them more? They are helpless and yet could not be anymore loved. Zephaniah repeats the theme that God is like this mother, “Our God is with you, will save you, takes great delight in you, quiets you with His love and rejoices over you with singing.”
We need these renewed images of God’s love not just for us, but for our children, for our spouses, for the children down the street and for those who work with us. We need true visions of God, because every day, in our actions, we are giving Him away distorted. Unaware.
And those who do not know Christ? This is the same for them. Their visions of God have not just been distorted by the shattered love they have been handed down, but their vision of God is a double paned glass of distortion with a second that Christians have handed them through the centuries, right smack dab in front of their eyes. They can’t get to God until the first has been healed.
They can’t love God freely until they have been loved by us.
Ephesians 5 says, “Be imitators of God as dearly loved children. Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.”
Love is self-sacrificing, humble and that is the kind of love that conquered death and that is the kind of love that was planted in the ground, one dead stick of a cross and the blood that ran down bringing healing to the ground of this earth. That is the only love that can heal our ground. This is the kind of love we need to imitate with shoes off, because this work is holy.
Have you ever seen a young son trying desperately to act, walk, talk like Dad. We were created to do just this same thing.
We struggle to walk patient, kind…we put on awkward clothes too big for us and try on His love, lace up good news, belt on truth ready to fight and awaken Life in the people around us.
We are healed in order to heal.
(This post was inspired by Jeff Franks and Donna Thomas curriculum, Pathways.)
You, friend, what is the messages of love that you have been given that have been transfered to God?
How are you called to walk in love today, this week?
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I’m counting, always counting thanks with Ann Voskamp:
For toddler voice, constant stream
sunshine on a Monday
shared tuna melts and oreo ice cream
a home getting shoveled out of chaos
a hope and a future, because He always has one planned
a friend with her gift of tea, infusing life
daddy and I tagteaming children, parenthesis around their day, teaching them scripture
counting with our whole church, introducing eucharisteo