I remember standing with the chalkboard in my hands. We were doing a sermon series about grace, and I was asked to share what that amazing grace had done in my life.
On one side of the board, I scribbled words about feeling unloved, unwanted. Words about an abusive father and an abusive half-brother. And on the other side, words about understanding my own beauty, about being happy and free.
I showed the first side. And then the other. And smiled.
It was such a lovely picture.
It was such a lovely lie.
I would love to take that chalkboard and shatter it into a million pieces. Because then it might tell a better story.
My heart is broken that, as Christians, we flatten our lives into two dimensions.
I once was lost but now I’m found.
I was sick but now I’m healed.
Life was bad but now it’s good.
But two dimensions are an insult to divinity. Healing is more complex than that – far more complex and personal and beautiful.
Jesus’ divinity never faltered and His words always pointed to a single, powerful salvation for all who would believe. But He was focused not on the all but on the one when it came to healing. His approach was different for every single person.
He showed up immediately. And He waited for what seemed like forever. He healed with a touch, with mud, with words, with His presence as he fixed fish and biscuits for breakfast. Some were cured instantly, some walked with pain for years, some required strong words and some simply needed proximity.
And the ways He healed didn’t always match the definition of the masses. Sometimes there was greater healing in what looked like not healing at all.
But that Christianity doesn’t sell well. So we reduce it to poetic soundbites and scribbles on chalkboard. We’re terrified that we might give Jesus a bad name if we don’t make Him out to be all butterflies and unicorns and instant perfection.
Because saying “I once was lost, and now I’m found – and struggling like hell some days, and maybe just a little pissed that God doesn’t seem to be listening some days, and seeing it get better sometimes and believing it will get better when it gets worse while I feel like vomiting because of this whole roller coaster ride. But I believe. I really do. I think.” might discredit our faith and that grace.
And God’s heart grieves. Because there’s so much more to our stories. And to His.
Sometimes healing comes quickly. And sometimes it doesn’t come in this life. Those who chased after Jesus because they wanted to be fixed were the ones who turned away from Him when He said the words that cut deep – words about this journey with Him being a battle.
But Jesus still holds His own, and He proves Himself an even more precious Savior when we are walking the blood-stained roads of this battlefield of life. He is the most real in the battle, as He heals us in ways we never thought we’d see.
If I could, I’d take that chalkboard and shatter it into a million pieces – and then string them together into the shape that shows the real height and depth and length and breadth of God’s grace in my story.
I believe in a grace that is wholly redemptive – that woos and draws and attracts me fully. A grace that is beyond understanding. A grace that transforms me in ways that shock me. And I believe in a grace that is messy and bloody and offensive to those who want a tidy religion.
A religion of easy statements.
A religion of simple rules.
A religion that only counts when people are quickly fixed.
I believe there is room for stories of real-life redemption. Unvarnished redemption. People are hungry for them. The lost are desperate for them. The broken are dying to hear them.
If you love Jesus, you honest-to-God have a story. Right now. In your pain, in your stumbling, in your not-quite-have-it-all-together place.
What is your story? What would you write on the shattered pieces of that chalkboard?
14 thoughts on “The Lovely Lie.”
Right now I’m not sure I have words to write on the shattered pieces of the chalkboard… and the words I am thinking are not words I would post in the comments here. Right now, today… that’s just where I am! $%&*!# pretty much sums it up! <3
I love your honesty. And I know the Lord right now is saying, “it’s OK, Sherri – I’m here, My shoulders are broad, and I’m not leaving. We’re walking through this, and we’ll keep walking.”
Wow, Ronne…..of a billion of insightful, challenging, gut-wrenching, encouraging, challenging, heart-felt writings….this might very well be the best. Gutsy, earthy truth…..Why are we so afraid to be REAL? The REALITY is that we live in a fallen world full of pain, sorrow, anxiety and really, really hard work. The reality is that’s not the way God planned for it to be….at all. We did this. But He can redeem it. And He will. As you stated so well, it’s entirely likely that complete healing won’t happen here (ref. fallen, evil world) but God’s love, grace, forgiveness and the promise of healing………..makes it better. Infinitely better. For us to promise or even INSTANT joy, healing, wealth, rainbows and butterflies….that’s not only unrealistic it’s also quite disillusioning. BUT, we know the end of the story. And love wins. What we can promise is instant forgiveness, love, grace, strength, comfort..and confidence. In fact, overlaying ALL of this crazy stuff with His grace and love TODAY makes it so much better. And knowing that we share this crazy journey with brothers and sisters like you gives all kinds of strength and encouragement…..thank you, Sister Ronne.
Oh my friend. My dear friend. Thank you.
This is so very graceful and gritty and I loved every word. We lie on the side of the road, hiding our wounds as those who see us scurry past, as to not get blood on their shoes. But what a grande expression of mutual love when we can expose our wounds – reveal them for the depth of what they really are – and have them met by another who stops along their journey, stoops down to see the blood, and lovingly cares for us. You are a warrior healer. I just adore you.
I like that – hiding our wounds- because we do that, as if it makes us less “Christian” if we actually have weaknesses, problems, vices, things we haven’t been healed of yet…
This. Is. Beautiful. And timely. And so… very… true.
So well put. It is so human and so religious to want everything in good/bad sick/healed light/dark categories. Sometimes it just isn’t that simple. Sometimes grace means our lives get flipped inside out and everything comes crashing down. I’ve learned more from those experiences than anything else. Great read.
So true. I’m so thankful to be in a community that truly understands this and embraces the messiness of grace and healing.
Love this, Ronnie. I’ve never had a “tidy” faith and it’s hard not to wonder what’s wrong with you when it seems that everyone else does. Thanks for the words of life to fellow messy followers.
Ronne, I’m not sure I’ve commented before on your blog. This absolutely needed to be said – and be shared. Thank you for having the wherewithal to do both.
One of the best blogs I have read for a long time. So very very true and full of insight. Dualistic thinking has been prominent for so long within Christian communities and has been so damaging for many people. Thank you for shattering not only the chalk board, but the dualisms too. Thank you
Ronne, I’m glad that your words spoke to people who share your point of view in this piece, but I think there is some confusion as it appears faith is being substituted for God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” God’s grace is perfect and enduring. Our faith often wavers, and sometimes even disappears. Grace is from God. Faith is from Man.
Hi there Will and thanks for commenting. This post talks about celebrating the Lord’s incomparable grace in the midst of our journey of ups and downs and celebrations and disappointments – about allowing the full story of His redemption to shine in our lives, even when our faith wavers.