GOD IS GOD AND I AM NOT.
It only flashes on the screen for a brief second during Beyonce’s video for “Don’t Hurt Yourself”–it did the same during her Lemonade tour. The flash of text is so brief that it is almost difficult to read the message, but there it is –in all caps white on a black background.
We live in a self-care, individuality obsessed society. “You got this!” GIFs scream at us. “You are a Badass!” a book (one of my new favourite books, I’m gonna confess it because confession is good for the soul) hollers from the shelf. Basically, the message that the world and consumerism keep trying to tell us is that we can do everything, all at once–have everything in a world that is literally fraying at the seams. That income disparity, a ridiculous job market, crushing student loan debt, and the fact that all over the place we see horrible people never getting their come-uppance doesn’t matter. WE have the same amount of hours in our day as Beyonce–so why don’t we feel amazing? Why don’t we have it all? Why isn’t a pedicure, the latest smartphone, and a bubble bath the cure for our ills?
I’m a huge fan of pedicures and bubble baths! I’m a lazy but high femme, and believe that a new lipstick can solve many problems. But, I also know that what our society is veering towards and what the ads on the subway are trying to sell you will never, ever make you feel loved or healed. I say this as a woman who owns over 300 bottles of nail polish and 60 tubes of lipstick–I’ve been to the river of the industrial beauty complex. It hasn’t healed me, not a bit. But those times I’ve glimpsed the throne of grace while singing or praying, well then the gaping wounds start to salve. Church isn’t magic, but I survive because I pray.
Today we read a passage from Luke, and it’s a parable. What I particularly like about this passage is that it actually breaks down the parable and explains it–and it’s remarkably modern. The seeds that are cast among the thorns, in the American Standard Translation “they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” It’s as if they had new iPhone releases every year in Ancient Rome.
Now, there is a certain brand of Christian who believe that if your faith is true and strong you are happy all the time. I’ve known people in this faith community who have issues of depression or anxiety and have confided in me that they believe it’s because of a crisis in their faith rather than their brain chemistry. It’s heartbreaking, because if we read the gospels and really dig into the story of Jesus, we see in his humanity a pretty moody guy–he flips tables and goes alone into the hills to pray, and runs away from crowds. The DSM and a roomful of shrinks could probably give him several diagnoses.
The thing I know for sure about Christ is that he loved broken people. People on the fringes and the outskirts. When he went looking for his disciples and companions he didn’t go into temples and royal courts, he went to the shores and got literally the stinkiest guys he could find–fishermen, and then proceeded to pick up some tax collectors, women with so-called “demons” in them, and an even more motley crew along the way. His own mother asked him to make more wine out of water for a party. They must have been a really fantastic bunch.
Going back to the idea that GOD IS GOD AND I AM NOT. This is a remarkably freeing idea. I am so grateful that I don’t have to walk this earth alone. At the end of my day (yes, often in a bubble bath) I can surrender everything back to a God that is bigger than me–bigger than everything. And in that surrender, I can trust the words of the psalms that we said this evening “I will call to you when I am in trouble–and you will answer me.” There’s a saying in the south “Leave it all on the altar”–in other words, kneel down and pray and when you get up trust that God has “got this” and you can stop worrying about everything. I’m the first to say that I often really suck at this. But, if I remember what the psalm says “You alone are God” or “GOD IS GOD AND I AM NOT” then I know that I don’t have to do this alone.
And thank God for that.