The other day I was cleaning toys. My son, almost two now, had left what I felt to be a sufficient amount of crusted drool over all his chewable and non-chewable toys (wait a minute- is anything to a two year old considered non-chewable?) irking me to the point of disinfection. Impassioned of a sense of duty, but not wanting to spend hours on this project, I decided on a mass boiling as the appropriate cleaning method. Yeah, that was it- just put all the toys in big pots, fill them with water and some vinegar, heat to boiling, and voila! Clean, disinfected toys!
Anyway, in the toys went- giant plastic checker pieces, small plastic animal figures, and Legos-to a big pot which I usually used to make mashed potatoes. I cranked the setting on the stove and left the kitchen to do some other chores.
The toys reached a boil, and the first thought that went through my mind was “Awesome! They’re getting really clean! All that heat is getting all the crap off ‘em.” After five minutes of this, I took the first batch off the stove and carefully drained it into a large colander in the sink. The steam whooshed up, and I couldn’t see through my glasses for a moment.
As the steam cleared away, I stared down in horror at the end result. Clean toys? Er, check. Yeah. Sure thing. Warped and deformed toys?
Yeah, that too.
On top of the pile of toys in the colander sat this yellow Lego. Its perfect arc had been warped and bent by the intense heat of the water. Underneath, the square spaces, perfectly measured by the Lego factory workers, now looked like something from a Tim Burton movie. No normal Lego would fit into this one again. I had ruined it, and numerous others, in my Fit of Clean.
Normally, a situation such as this would crescendo into an interior monologue of self-deprecation, with words like “Typical,” “Failure,” “Useless,” and “Hopeless” leading the pack. Because the one failure always seems to trigger the remembrance of all his buddies, inconsequential or not. And down I go, dragged into my own self-created sea of self-pity.
However, on this particular day I was struck by what I can only describe as a moment of epiphany which echo and reverberated within my soul. Brennan Manning would call it grace. I suddenly realized that though this warped yellow Lego had lost its precise function of fitting how it needed to fit, the God of infinite Space and Dimension and Time didn’t care. The God who saw from all angles, from past to present to future, from the greatest heights and the greatest depths, who came in the form of a Man to experience our human nature with all its trials, tribulations, and worries, still saw worth, value, goodness, and beauty in that which had been damaged and broken. Even if it was now just a
warped yellow Lego.
But now I wasn’t exactly thinking of the warped yellow Lego anymore. I was thinking of myself. In all my high-cholesterol, anxiety-ridden, near-sighted, over-caffeinated, frustration-prone, self-conscious, deformed- joint, compulsive-driven, and tragedy stricken glory.
Brennan Manning quotes Paul Tillich in Ragamuffin Gospel when he wrote
“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness…It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave a light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you…”
He says later in his own words “Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual but for the wobbly and the weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.”
I think I am ready for this. Therefore I begin this blog, which I want to be honest and without pretense, not mired in solemnity and a hyper-spirituality, but real and true to how I really am. To be a part of the “brotherhood of the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.” And most importantly, see the grace given even in moment of the ridiculous, unexpected, and the unforeseen. To see how the warped yellow Lego is still accepted.
And is loved.