Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Life of a Polished Turd

But Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the 
Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7, ESV 

Yes, YES you really did read that title correctly.  Why would I use such a CRUDE title for a Christian blog post?  Because there is something pervasive that goes on in the Church that needs to be addressed, and it includes those of us living in the special needs community.

See if this sounds familiar to you:
Life is crumbling all around.  An esteemed member of the community has a child whose diagnosis is kicking the family's tail.  Life-threatening episodes have landed that child in the hospital repeatedly.  Days here on earth are not looking very hopeful.  Suddenly, the parent also receives a grave diagnosis, requiring additional time in the medical system, leaving time for little else.  Yet, that family pushes forward as if nothing is out of the ordinary, smiles plastered on faces, lips gushing about the goodness of God, never letting on even a hint of feeling shaken.
OR
A respected couple is doing everything they can to get into a routine with one of their children who has a diagnosis, when a completely different diagnosis hits one of their other children.  They bravely march forward, despite teetering on the brink of bankruptcy from all of the medical bills.  Perfectly coiffed, matching outfits, they are faithfully at church each week, garnering the utmost respect of others around them.  They are perceived to have it all together with their smiling, fun photos on Instagram and Facebook.  And their expectations are for everyone around them to carry on as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. 
THAT, my friends, can be the life of a polished turd.
It may be all beautiful and golden on the outside, but there is the same rancid, rotting content on the inside.

Now hear me when I say that I am in no way diminishing God's commands to "Rejoice in the Lord always," (Philippians 4:4) or "Give thanks in all circumstances," (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  We absolutely should be obeying the Lord's mandate to do those things.

However, rejoicing and thankfulness don't mean that we bury our hurts or attempt to function at the exact same level when troubles come.  As we are reminded in the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time and season for everything.  We circumvent God's best for us when don't slow down, grieve, or make people understand that we ARE going through a difficult time in our journey.  We may be looking pretty and functional to the less astute observer, but inside, we're still a mess.

When we live the life as a polished turd, we also do something terrible to our fellow members of the special needs, chronic illness, or disability communities.  It may not be intentional, but we create a very unsafe space for others.  Suddenly, they do not feel like they have permission to fall apart or slow down.  Transparency and intimacy wane because caregivers sense they can't share with those who are oh-so-perfect.  They falsely feel that they are falling short and being judged by others.  Mutuality vanishes to our detriment.

Jesus decried this sort of behavior in the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27, ESV)
Just like a tomb with a rotting corpse, the polished turd still stinks to those willing to draw close enough.

Especially in this generation where right is wrong and wrong is right, where appearance seems to be EVERYTHING, God is looking for TRUTH-TELLERS.  Since He IS the Truth, we are aligning our lives most closely to Him when we abide in that Truth.  This doesn't mean being "Negative Nancy" or barfing out every thought that enters our heads.  However, it does mean finding a way and taking the risk to be honest with people.  It means taking a pause when a pause is completely reasonable.  It means living out the reality of our situation while maintaining the Hope that is within us.

Friends, I put up with a great deal of disdain from those who expect me to always have a smile plastered on my face.  Fortunately, I am unshakably secure with who I am in Christ.  That, in my humble opinion, is the key.  

It is a LIE that we are more godly, more holy, or more spiritually mature when we maintain the appearance of holding it together at all times.  Read the Psalms!  David was known as "a man after God's own heart."  Yet, Israel's greatest king poured out his heart to the Lord without duplicity.  Despite his deepest frustrations and sorrows, King David was secure with who he was in his Father's eyes.  His unbridled honesty still blesses any who will read his words today.

Like David, we all need to feel close enough to Jesus to know that he still loves us even when things are tough and our emotions are raw.  We need to remain an open book in our hurts or struggles, lest we set up unrealistic expectations for our peers.  We can only lead others through life's worst moments when they have seen us literally crushed and broken, yet coming through with an unstoppable faith and hope.  We need to make it okay for our peers to opt out for awhile simply because life is just too hard to do otherwise in certain seasons.

Don't live the life a polished turd, unless you want to look like every other "poser" in our culture, limiting God's ability to use you fully.  Keep it real and watch how a life fully poured out blesses both you and everyone around you.

PRAY:  Father, I confess that I have too often tried to look good to others, putting on a happy smile when I would rather be pouring out cleansing tears.  Holy Spirit, empower me to take the risk of being honest and transparent with others in order to make it safe for them to do the same.  Thank You that You see our hearts when people only see the exterior.  Remind me to treat others with the knowledge that there may be much more going on inside than I can see with my eyes.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree with this post. Thank you for giving a voice to what many of us feel. Thank you for making it safe and spiritual for us to express those feelings.

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