Thursday, March 14, 2013

Life Among the Broken

Today I was a Parent Tour Guide at Thomas' school. 

Tour Guides show prospective parents around the school and answer questions about curriculum, the lunch program, the sports program, transportation, or whatever it is prospective parents want to know. 

I've done this a few times now, and I never, ever look forward to it. Never.

And the reason isthis job involves talking to a group of strangers, and if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I love really hate that.

But, I always get through it, and I always meet some really nice people, too.

I also get to hear Mr. B, the Head of School speak, and he's a good speaker, so I enjoy that.

Today he said that one goal of the school is to help kids learn how to function within a broken world, as opposed to shielding them from the realities of it.

His statement reminded me of the other school we'd visited before choosing this one.

While inquiring, we'd been invited to attend an award ceremony and had accepted.

During the ceremony, one of the speakers said something about making sure parents were doing x, y, and z so that "Satan wouldn't snatch up our kids." He got kind of excited about that possibility, I recall. While I sort of understood where he was coming from, I remember wondering whether I agreed with his view or believed more that Satan's snatching power is strictly limited by his creator and not really dependent on me doing x, y, and z. Point beingwhen I heard Mr. B today, I really appreciated what he said.

(The "Satan-snatching" comment wasn't the only reason we decided against this school, by the way. During the interview, my quiet, very introverted, exceedingly well-behaved child vanished, and in his place appeared this kid I barely recognized who was running around, talking back, and generallyas we say in the hoodshowing his behind. Later, when I told a good friend what had happened she said, "I guess he didn't like the vibe in that place. Clearly he didn't want to go to THAT school!" Clearly, maybe. I still spanked his butt that afternoon.) 

Anyhoo, Mr. B's comment also reminded me of a personal essay I'd read this week in Ladies Home Journal in which the author, Glennon Doyle Melton, conjectures that we humans spend far too much time hiding behind our "armor," unwilling and afraid to let others know how vulnerable and messed up we really are. I thought about this because being "messed up" is definitely a byproduct of living in a fallen world, and of late I've been contemplating how the church (the universal church) sometimes unwittingly (at least I hope it's unwitting) contributes to the shield-building, because some of us are taught that if we're not living the "victorious" life, something must be wrong with our relationship with God. So we hide our problems and pretend that it's all good.

I like the alternative better. We're all broken, each one. And there's nothing, not really, to be gained by pretending otherwise. But there's a whole lot to be gained by facing facts, reaching out, and holding on.

That's what Melton did. After confiding to her friend about her current struggles as a wife and mother as well as her past addiction to drugs, alcohol, and food, she wrote it all down and told her entire congregation! Melton writes "It took a long time, but my acceptance of myself, my partner, my children, my community, and my faith are the only protection I need. They are my life, and I am at its center; naked and honest and sober and broken and imperfectly perfect. A work in constant progress."

My personal testimony would be more specific about the role of Jesus in my life, but I like what Melton is saying. Life is too short, and we are too frail. Sometimes we need to let the mask slipand bless each other in the process.


  1. Well said Crystal...the real power of being the church is often hidden in the lack of transparency. If the gospel really works it works in the need.

  2. Yes, indeed Ray! Let's hear it for more transparency. Shout that testimony!