Forgiveness Friday: Sometimes It Takes Going Through the Roof

Maybe the reason that life puts pebbles in our shoes and smudge marks on our eyeglasses is that we are living in a cosmic comic strip with only five windows, and the last one always contains dialogue that says: “I can’t do this alone.”

I mentioned the other day that I wanted to find something to put on my desk as a tactile reminder that self-doubt will keep me from experiencing what someone described to me in a letter during last year’s Lent.

The letter says:

“God is present in all things and “everything is grace.”

I found a perfectly snarky reminder to continue this work of allowing myself to experience what is good and real, rather than to spend my whole day in repose due to my pebble injuries and blurred vision. Here is JerkFace in full glory.

Perfect if I do say so myself. What a snot, eh? The fellow at the store said “you can keep him at your desk and at least one of you will be relaxed.” Exactly. JerkFace hasn’t a care in the world, and is full of high falutin’ criticism, smack talk and derogatory sass.

The only problem with my find is that this little thing is so stinking cute and so me. This is the version of me that turns my family blue in the face. One of them told me in no uncertain terms just this morning:

“You just check out and we can’t even figure out

anything about you.”

It’s true. Much of the time I am enveloped by some sort of dark struggle, or recovering by way of a triple blanket bed cave with a book. Anne Lamott describes this need to give pain a full-fledged examination:

“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.”
Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

Thankfully, SweetCheeks, my desktop compass toward grace in the form of a desk decoration is much bigger than silly little JerkFace.

What would I do without my family who is willing to forgive me and call me in out of the rain time after time, cartoon strip after cartoon strip? Just like in this weekend’s Gospel story, they are always there the next day, ready to haul my sorry can to some new spot in the sand as the tides ebb and flow.

With absolutely no exception, this weekend’s Gospel story is my favorite. In the story

3 …four men tried to bring in a paralyzed man on a stretcher, 4 but could not reach Jesus because of the crowd. So, they removed the roof above Jesus, dug through the ceiling, and lowered the man.  (Mark 2)

Can you even imagine this? Oh come on, don’t be a jerkface, let go and imaaaaagine the drama of being that guy on the stretcher. Or the people underneath trying to follow the rules and wait in line, and then someone cuts in line by way of the roof?

I have a painting in my office made for me by an Appalachian artist name Charley Kinney. He made it for me when I told him that this healing story was my favorite gospel tale. At the bottom of the painting Charley wrote: “Christ healen peple.”

The drama of the story is epic, but what is transformative is the message.

Jesus says to the man:

9 “What’s easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher, and walk.’ 10 So you’ll know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins here and now,” Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and told him, 11 “Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

That is faith.

That, is faith.

“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had

a better past.”
Anne Lamott

Speed bump after speed bump, fall after fall, stupid pebble after stupid pebble, faith is the confidence that we are worthy of the tender care given to us in the oddest ways, day after day after day.

And then again, on another day.

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Forgiveness Friday: Discreet 101

Then, Jesus clearly warned the (recently healed) man. “Don’t tell anyone about your cure! Go! Show your skin to the priest. Then give to the Temple, just as Moses commanded. That should show them!”

After that, Jesus kicked the man out.

Mark 1: 43-44

Huh?

This smells fishy at the first read. Sounds like it’s time for some sack cloths that say:

paranoia will destroy ya.

Special attention could be given to the instruction from Jesus to not “tell” in this weekend’s Gospel story about a leper being healed.

“Telling” vs. “Not Telling” is the main topic of conversation between my ten year old son and I right now. After moving to a larger town and school, our Joe has been exposed to larger and more diverse groups of children. In his mind, he has gone from cozy to mega, but really it is exactly what his dad and I would wish for in a small school and manageable class size.

Initially, our hard work paid off each day by pumping him with the promise that investing himself in a larger and more assorted mix of friends would bring him to a whole new level of happy.

And pay off it did! Though there was more than one tearful bedtime that included “I hate this place…I miss my old friends…no one likes me here,” for the most part his boundless extroversion paid off and his initial goal to have one best friend has expanded to trying to figure out how to manage his large group of best friends.

The flip side? He is in overdrive with trying to figure out what a clique is vs. a group, what exactly defines bullying, and what to do with the fact that girls are not disgusting during every minute of the day.

Which brings us back to the Gospel snippet which began this post.

Here is the whole story:

Mark 1:40-45

40 A leper approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and pleaded, “Jesus, if you want to, you can make me whole again.”

41 Jesus had such deep feelings for the leper, he reached out and touched the man. “I want you to get better. Be whole again.” 42 At that moment, the disease left the man. 43-44 Then, Jesus clearly warned the man. “Don’t tell anyone about your cure! Go! Show your skin to the priest. Then give to the Temple, just as Moses commanded. That should show them!” After that, Jesus kicked the man out.

45 But, after the man left, he talked about Jesus all the time. Because of his comments, Jesus could not enter any town in the open. Instead, he stayed in places where he could be alone. But people from everywhere kept coming to see him.

This morning while reading and listening to this story, I couldn’t help but remember a talk I had with Joe the other day on the way to basketball practice. It went something like this:

Mom: Joe, I was wondering if you know what paranoid means?

Joe: (huge sigh) Yesssss mom, it means to get on someone’s nerves.

Mom: Oh, I think you might be thinking of annoyed. No, I meant paranoid which is when someone worries way, way too much about bad things that people could be thinking or saying about us. Sometimes it’s true that some of that nasty stuff is going on, but almost always it’s not as bad as we think.

This got him talking a little bit about his concern that I was spreading rumors among the fourth grade moms about some of his less favorable transgressions from before we moved.

Which…led to talk #346 which is

The Big Difference Between Private and Secret

Mom: Here’s the deal Joe, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t keep secrets because secrets are about shame and I am nothing but proud of you. I DO keep things private though, and no, I didn’t tell all the moms about XYZPDQ because it isn’t any of their bizwax.

Joe: K. Gotta go. Coach is right there.

So, when the leper who had been healed boogied off to town and bragged up Jesus, he wasn’t spreading a long-held secret, he was just excited. But, the consequence of his lack of discreetness was that Jesus had no privacy and doing his work became complicated and, as we now know, very dangerous.

Glad that I took a minute to soak this story up – I’m sure it won’t be long before I am forced into some awkward mom situation again, and I hope I can keep my word to my kid.