I believe everyone’s faith grows from memory to memory. It’s not the powerful sermons that mark our faith journey (yes, even my powerful sermons which are the best ever given do not serve as spiritual markers) or the worship music or the Bible study. We mark our faith from memory to memory—whether those memories are of a time we just knew God was close to us or those memories of when God felt so distant and yet this “miracle” happened to remind us that God has not forgotten us. These are our spiritual markers.
As a youth minister, my goal is to continually create memories for the teens. One of those memories I planned went in a complete different direction and in the end that was even better.
We were “gifted” a large wooden cross for the youth room. Not a bad gift really but it was sort of dumped on us. So I thought and thought and thought of how to make this more for the youth and more personal than the unspoken message that it was dumped in our room. I came up with a great idea.
At a craft store I found these cheap wooden crosses, at least I think they were wood. More on that to come. I also purchased 2”x2” mirrors. I glued one mirror to the crux of the cross. After I taught on crucifying ourselves to Jesus and what that looks like (which is not what a normal 13-year old boy thinks), I gave everyone a cross and had them decorate it to personalize it. Then I laid the cross across the floor and invited everyone to pick up a nail and hammer and to nail “themselves” to the cross. I pictured this solemn and memorable moment. Everything was lined up for this beautiful and strong memory.
Except the nails did not go through the wood of those small crosses.
In the solemn silence of this important metaphor, the mirrored glass was breaking. Giggles broke out. Then laughter. Then the older boys saying they could nail it in better. All through this there was more glass breaking. There was artwork breaking. We were all on the floor in giggles trying to fix this growing mess (so many of us had better ideas but none worked) except for me–I was frantic because we were all sitting amidst shards of glass.
Then Jake said, “Aren’t we already cracked when we come to Jesus?”
Yes, we are.
This was our memory maker. With some help from a parent who knew wood, I got those cracked mirrored crosses nailed to our large cross later and it stayed that way til those teens graduated high school.
We are cracked when we come to Jesus. You have to have those cracks to have God’s unearned love leak out.
You are enough.
To find healing you need to make the long journey from “what will people think?” to “I am enough.” We have to be willing to give our leaky selves a break and appreciate the beauty of our cracks and imperfections.
I loved that cross that was “gifted” to us with all those cracked identities added to it. It was then that it became beautiful and useful and a part of us.
You are cracked and that is okay. Allow God’s unearned love to leak out of your cracks and then watch and see. You will notice that you won’t hate your cracks as much. You will catch glimpses of your beauty, which you will then deny or placate away til you catch another glimpse of your beauty and eventually over time these glimpses will become part of your norm. Yes, this will happen.
People will start to see God more inside of you. You will know this from the various and random comments you will receive.
At first one of these random comments will stick in your head for quite a while as you replay it over and over again with the second thought of “was that really said about me?” or “could this really be me?” Then you will hear another random comment and then another and then another and soon these random comments will all run together and you start believing that these comments are really about you. Then you will start seeing beauty and strength (can’t forget that strength) growing out of your cracks and you say, “Oh, this is what everyone is seeing.” They are seeing you and God’s unearned love through you and the creation of that is life—a life worth living, a life desired, a life that others desire.
Comedian George Carlin famously said,
“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so f—–n’ heroic.”
(Proper me can’t spell out the F-word here yet it does add that beautiful punch to this truth, right?)
When God’s unearned love is allowed to leak out of your cracks, you become heroic. WTF? This is true. This is true about you. Those cracks you’ve been trying and trying and trying to hide and cover and fix become part of your hero story—the story that you are the hero of.
How did that happen? God smiles and says, “This is the way it works in my Love Kingdom.”
(Photo credit: http://stock-fioccodineve.deviantart.com/art/Broken-mirror-01-63388758,