There’s a place that I know
It’s not pretty there, and few have ever gone.
If I show it to you now
Will it make you run away?
Or will you stay
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out?
Will you return
And remind me who I really am?
Please remind me who I really am.
Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it.
Will you love me
Even with my dark side?
Apparently I have a split personality. Given the right concoction of genetics, history, exhaustion, and hypoglycemia, cooked under the proper temperature of circumstances, I can transform from Nice Me to Horribly Frightening Me. Kinda like Jekyll and Hyde – which, coincidentally, share my initials.
Nice Me – we’ll call her Dr. J – helps Title I first graders learn to read. She feeds and clothes the homeless. She holds all things loosely and gives generously. She calls cashiers by their first names and smiles at strangers. She pours herself into a precious group of 8th grade girls, who adoringly call her “Mom.” Dr. J affirms the value of every human, even the fundamentalists, Tea Partiers, and luxury car owners. She hugs her children, kisses her husband, sacrifices her time, her sleep, and her preferences to serve them. Dr. J is a nice lady.
Horribly Frightening Me – we’ll call her Mrs. H – blasts her husband, ignores her children, curses the widows and orphans, and causes everyone to walk on eggshells from fear of her wrath. Especially around family holidays. Mrs. H is mean and grouchy and not fun. She pops in unannounced and takes over the entire house. She barks and growls and snarls until everyone runs for cover and she’s left alone with her nasty self. Then Mr. H steps in and orders her to knock it off. Which only makes her more mean and nasty. She swings a heavy club and spews poison. No one is safe until she leaves.
Dr. J enters and surveys the damage. She stares at the wreckage. She presses her palms to her eyes and asks aloud, “What THE HELL just happened here?”
How shall the twain ever doth meet?
The incompatibility has launched me into a tailspin. I’m a beautiful disaster, a sacred mess. And I’m realizing that’s the way it’s going to be for a while.
Wholeness is a fallacy. We’re not ever going to be completely whole while we are breathing. We strive to be less broken. We pray to be more whole. Whole-ish. But even when we heal from the past, when we forgive, when we get over it, we’re still not whole. We’re still broken. We’re still a mess. And life continually breaks us, even when we walk on a path to whole-ishness. That’s just how it is.
I remember a conversation I had with a college classmate, back when I was Young and Stupid. She didn’t like the idea of a God sitting up in heaven, reaching down his holy hand and messing with us, moving us around like dolls or marionettes or action figures. Life is pretty damn good without all that hocus-pocus, she said, so what’s the point? In my infinite twenty year old wisdom, I spluttered something about life being better after we die. Only years later did I realize the incompleteness of my answer – life is better now, of course, when we know God is with us here, when we live as He planned, when we love and serve Him, when we love and serve others.
That’s the central mission for the post-modernist Christian. The antiquated method of evangelism with a tract emblazoned with the Five Spiritual Laws (“say a prayer and go to heaven”) doesn’t fly anymore. Life with Christ means life and fulfillment now. The Kingdom on Earth. Heaven is merely a bonus.
I do believe that. I live that. I cling to that. But while cleaning up the destruction caused by Mrs. H, then reading prophecy in both ends of the Bible, I have to say: heaven doesn’t sound too shabby. The bad guys are sent away. The good guys win. No crying or mourning, because there will be no suffering. No lamps, because there will be no night. There will be lots of trees and fruit and food.
And if I may extrapolate, no bitter history, no hurt feelings, no self-centered, self-serving rants. No whining or yelling, no scowls or pouty looks. No worrying what everyone thinks, no fixations on our thighs or muffin tops or blood pressure.
At last, we will be whole.
Until then, here we are. A glorious, effed-up, broken mess, crawling our way to whole-ishness. Not much else we can do, I suppose, but make the best of it. Give generously. Love lavishly. Be gentle with ourselves and with others. Forgive ourselves and forgive others – because we’re all messed up. Attempt to quiet the Mrs. Hs of our splintered existence – beating them back with a stick, cleaning up their messes, praying for the strength to kick their ugly backsides.
For now, we hobble forward with our dual selves, remembering even the smallest light will always conquer the darkest corners of night.