There was a moment when I was 25 and having a conversation with my mommy, this was a pretty intimate “heart to heart” kinda conversation. While we were talking my mom’s eyes filled with tears as her green eyes stared intently into mine and she said, “one of my biggest regrets is not letting you be a boy when you were growing up… but I just loved you so much and I didn’t want you to get hurt.” The tears tripped and fell over her eye lids as I stepped in to embrace my sorrowful mommy. While holding her, I assured her that it was ok, even though her way of “keeping me safe” also influenced one of my biggest regrets [not playing high school football].
Let me peel back the layers for you just a bit… As a boy, my mother was so infatuated with me that the idea of me getting hurt was gut wrenching for her, where this turns unfortunate is she was such a clean/neat freak that had I ever gotten the house dirty, I would have died by her hand. So, not only was I not allowed to play pop-warner [tackle] football as a kid but I also wasn’t allowed to ride my bike through the mud [or do anything else to get extremely dirty]. If by chance I rebelled against my mom and came home dirty, muddy or in any way other than when I left the house, she would have me stand in the front yard and strip to my under-roos then she would spray me with the hose until she thought I was clean enough to enter her house.
Having my mother make a public spectacle out of me was incredibly embarrassing and made the idea of coming home dirty very scary and almost shameful. So, I knew that my options were either, A. find a way to clean up before I got home or B. I would be completely embarrassed by the fact that I was too dirty to enter my own house.
Kinda sounds like church, right?
We live in this fear that if we come home dirty then God is going to make us strip down in the front yard and expose all of our dirt until it has been washed clean by humiliation. And I would petition that this is not a true Christian concept or frame of mind, rather that of the pride and selfishness of humanity.
One of many differences between my mom and God are that my mom hated when I tracked dirt in the house and God loves to see my muddy footprints on his pearly white carpet!
I am learning an enormous amount about true, unadulterated grace. The type of grace that moves me to response. A grace that leaves me pure, holy and sinless before the Father! This grace allows for me to approach the door of my Fathers house dripping with mud and filth and I picture that He is glorified in my willingness to know that he loves my muddy footprints.
Hopefully your parents didn’t make you strip down to your skivvies to spray the dirt off of you before you were able to go inside, but whether they did or not, I believe that this fear of “coming home dirty” is one that paralyzes our hearts! Throughout my many journeys and experiences I have met many wonderful yet broken men and women who don’t allow themselves to be embraced in a relationship with God because they are “dirty”. Overwhelmed by fear the we will be rejected or humiliated we try so hard to clean off and strip all of the “dirty” away, but we are bathing in a swamp and do not have the capacity to “clean” ourselves…
Here are a few things I know…Religion is scary. Humanity is prideful. Our capacity is shallow. God is loving, beyond all imagination. If you knew that you could enter a relationship w/ a man or woman and you could act or treat them however you wanted and they would only be able to see you as the most perfect form of the man/woman your partner fell in love with, you would dive head first into such a relationship. Love is waiting. Jesus is reaching out His hand beyond religion, beyond your “dirt”, straight into your heart.