Some days I wish for a simple-Sunday-school-clean-magic-bracelet life, but getting my hands dirty in the garden of my complicated heart and in the fascinating hearts I am honored to interact with is what I’m really made for.
There are many things in my life story that I would alter if it were up to me — pain caused by broken people, grief that knocked me sideways, loss of loved ones and friendship, character flaws, and royal screw-ups. But as I have no magic time machine, alteration of the past is not an option. So what to do with this stuff?
For most of my life, it went into a garbage heap somewhere deep inside me, invisible to others unless they knew where to dig, out of sight even though I knew darn well it was in there. It was the ultimate in nastiness -moldy, putrid, and rotten.
Eventually it outgrew its container. There was nowhere else to put my garbage, so it started to collect in more visible places. The noxious waste that I had so carefully hidden began to leach out into every corner of my life. Anxiety over possible exposure led to profound fear; insecurity became self-hate, old resentments turned to bitterness, and doubt crept towards downright unbelief.
I grew up with my summer-camp-simple clarity, VBS rainbow bracelets, and the whole world in His hands. I was black (bad), there is red blood, and then I was white (good). There was green for the continual growth I would enjoy, then I’d get to walk the gold streets of heaven.
It sounded like a fairytale because in many ways it was. I believe the red part — that I was in need of saving, and the gold part — that we were created to coexist with God beyond this broken life. But all those other color beads run together into a murky muddiness.
Very broken people, even in the midst of shame or addiction, sometimes act with incredible grace and beauty. "Saved" and put-together people can be downright despicable sometimes.
My sin, as I experience it inside, has never gone from black to white in this earth-bound heart and body. I remember yesterday’s stumbles in excruciating detail and today’s slip-ups are hiding just around the corner. But I am beginning to hope that there is an interim part of the story.
I don’t feel fully clean yet, but God is going about His redeeming business and turning my waste into compost.
As I am honest about my private landfill and expose it to the air and light of day, things are beginning to change. With new nutrients introduced and regular tossing, the stench is receding.
Now my pile of refuse is still black, but eventually, it’s going to be black gold — a beautiful infusion that will be the very thing that nourishes the garden of my heart and the hearts around me. A landscaper's dream.