My Bible is a mess. Or Bibles, I should say. Each and every one highlighted and dog-eared, their margins fat and inky, smudged in thought.
See, I’ve always believed that a thing must be used up hard to be made Real.
Do you remember the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, the little plush bunny whom love and tragedy made Real? I can’t get enough of this bittersweet concept: a love that wears us down to lumpy, threadbare nakedness…and the transformation that follows.
Nobody was ever transfigured through preservation. Not nobody, not no how. We were not meant to be museum pieces, our hearts kept under glass–that’s no way to grow Real. And yet how many times do we try to hold firm, petrified of stepping into the strip-down slip-stream of Love? That much? Do I really need to love that much–to be loved that much to be transformed?
It was Blessed Mother Teresa who said it best.
“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who’s sending a love letter to the world.”
Not a builder, not a high-power exec. Not even a starving artist. A worn-out, worn-down, used-up little pencil writing someone else’s love letter to the world. And is there irony that that’s a life lived well? That this is (in the end) the only thing that’s Real. All the rest of it, it’s only smoke and mirrors after all, gone in a final, bloodless heartbeat. The only thing we take when it’s all over is the Love that used us up.
We do know something about that, don’t we? These hearts of ours, they’ve already known too much of being used. We know what it is to be worn ragged and tossed aside.
The world tells us to “take care” of ourselves. To guard, protect. To turn the other cheek right round and bolt before it’s slapped yet again. Well, who can argue with the logic? We all need protection, after all. But not from Love.
This is different.
Dear heart, this is Love that wears down (yes), but He’ll never leave us lying in the dust. This Love reaches down to dust and draws it up in gentle hands so sure, to form us brand-new, sinless, perfect, flawless, and gives us the very breath of Heaven. This is the way to become human, this the only transcendence. There is nothing more Real.
But can we trust the transformation? Can we love beyond the hurt? Could we courageously sacrifice ourselves to lumpy, threadbare nakedness?
Love demands one crazy, death-defying Leap.
Will you take it with me? It’s easier to jump holding hands.
These weary feet, these calloused hands, the heart-scars we lay bare because we wouldn’t cauterize with bitterness–this is the beginning, and we’re making it together. This is how we get holy. This is magic.
And even if it’s scary, isn’t this what we want? I know I want a faith that’s Real–that transcends my shabby, threadbare patches and turns me into beautiful right in the midst of rot. And if I’m terrified, well, isn’t it all part of the adventure? I’ll walk out on the tight-rope, knife-edge wire of hope and trust that, in the end, it all works out.
This is why I take pen to paper, chicken-scratch the love letter to shreds. I highlight hope to help me through the hard times. I press the corners down to remind myself to stay strong. To let Him use me up and wear me out. I don’t want to curl up, content with a mummified heart too terrified to break.
Nobody wants to be broken, but I know that I need to be sharpened, cracked open, and spilled out in all my imperfection. The dog-eared love letter says it over and over: this–this sharpened pencil-life worn down to the barest of threadbare nubs–this is the only way to holy.
Holy is you and me, unafraid and unprotected by any shield but faith.
It’s holding tight to promises we dog-eared in the dark with questions still ringing in between our ears.
It’s the wild, whirlwind leap into the blackness to love beyond the rational, beyond what we were capable of being because somewhere, somehow in this uncertain wearing-out to dust, we trust we’ll feel His hands reshaping, remaking us into something Real.