I had a feeling in my gut that we shouldn’t have been playing with a ball in that room.
Grandma Steinbacher’s fancy living room was not a place for rough-housing with its uncomfortable furniture and crystal chandelier. I was sure, although the rest of their farmhouse looked a lot like mine, this is where they must have invested their fortune. They did hide it well, still raising chickens and wearing overalls and cotton dresses, serving off-brand sandwich cookies and eating at that formica-topped kitchen table. But I had seen “The Beverly Hillbillies,” so I wasn’t fooled.
When my cousins’ football expertly spiraled toward that light fixture, I immediately got scared, and rightfully so.
The glass shattered and fell like snow into the shag carpet. We all froze, staring up at the ceiling. Strangely, since it had so many intricate pieces, the damage was very difficult to detect, especially from the entrance to the room. You had to stand on the far side and look back to see that it was missing a chunk. In our grade school wisdom, we reasoned that it would be better not to tell. No one would notice anyway, and it would only make Grandma sad. Since we could never afford to replace it, what would be the point? So we swore secrecy.
Sometimes not being completely known feels like the safe place to be.
Woven into our humanity is a deep desire to be known. But along with that desire oftentimes comes fear from the Enemy. So we hide from an All-Knowing God, like we still live in the Garden.
At first, hiding that broken chandelier seemed like the right thing to do, but it wore on me. And more importantly, it made me feel like a fake when Grandma hugged us and bragged to Mom and Dad about what good kids we were. I kept thinking, “If she only knew…”
According to Tim Keller, our greatest fear is to be known and not loved. So we become skilled at jet-skiing across this ocean of life, never diving deep into honest relationships with others or with God.
During each pregnancy, I kept my weight a secret from my husband. Well, at least the number. I didn’t want him to see how close it was getting to the number he saw when he stepped on the scale. I had to get creative and distract him when he was at the hospital or at my OB appointment with me. It just made me feel better to have that little secret to myself. No need to let him see a number he couldn’t un-see, right?
All that mystery busted open wide when I got heart failure. Because of the danger of fluid retention, my weight has become a topic of at least weekly conversation. (Great.) He knows the target number and he knows the warning number. And yet, we are closer than we were three years ago when that number was top secret.
The same thing happens with God.
Just as the mundane creates space for faith to grow, it also allows God to completely know us in the ugly everyday. And that is necessary for us to grasp that we are completely loved.
Paul David Tripp says, “For every huge life-changing moment, we experience ten thousand insignificant moments.”
If God’s love or my husband’s love only showed up in the infrequent burst of excitement or tragedy, our relationship would be pretty shallow.
All 10,000 of those mundane moments are the ones where God ‘s love for us shines clearest. Like ordinary nightlights guiding our unexpected path, those 10,000 insignificant moments, strung together, form a way for God’s constant love to be revealed.
His nature, His power, His presence is made perfect in my own dark, everyday weakness.
We can’t be fully loved until we are fully known. And we can’t be fully known until someone else experiences not just the highlight reel, but the fully ordinary in us. That’s why that Baby was born to teenage parents, worked with His dad in carpentry, and fished with friends.
Jesus came into our mundane existence to fully love us through our everyday.
Perhaps most importantly, in understanding that we are fully known, we sense the immensity of our need for this love-driven God. He doesn’t approve of the ugly in my life. Because of the cross, He simply doesn’t see it anymore. Like looking at that chandelier from the hallway and not seeing the break, or seeing your child’s mother on the scale instead of the number.
God already knows about and lives in the mundane. But there is freedom in not hiding. Even if we never truly were. Because when we try to hide, we forfeit a close relationship with the One who can refine our hearts.
All our relationships deepen when we stop hiding.
Grandma died when I was 14. I don’t know if she ever knew about the chandelier. I wish I had told her. She wouldn’t have loved me more if I had, but we might have had a closer relationship. After raising eight children of her own, she would have understood that broken things are part of the everyday.
And as much as my husband (now) knows about me, he doesn’t know everything. He simply can’t. But through the mundane blessing of chronic illness, my husband and I have grown even closer over the last few years. That relationship has become deeper than I had ever imagined.
Still, I am fully aware that I will one day walk into Eternity alone.
Into the arms of the only One who can know and love every ordinary thing about me.
Linda Giefer West says
Lori, the picture you paint of grandma’s good living room brings back so many childhood memories. I love reading your stories. I feel like I know you even though I don’t. Your mom and Mary were my idols when I was growing up. I too have had health problems, the most recent being a stroke a year ago. I remember how pretty you were at my mom’s funeral. You did not look sick and I pray that you are still doing well. So sorry to hear about you dad, please tell your parents that I love them.
Lori Ann Wood says
I’m thrilled that you are reading my blog, Linda. Mom still talks about you often. I know you are a favorite of hers, too. I’m so sorry to hear about your stroke. Please keep me updated about your health.
Carolyn Hook says
You are blessed to have a grandmother and husband who love you unconditionally no matter how that chandelier got broken and how much your husband knew. Thank God for His love and mercy that He gives us, as we live this life breaking His commandments. And He forgives us as far as the East is from the West as we desire to grow in His ways and become more like Him!
Well done, Lori.
Lori Ann Wood says
Yes! I have been blessed beyond measure. Most of all, in the Father’s unrelenting love. We break so much when it comes to our relationship with God. I am continually thankful for Jesus for taking care of my brokenness once and for all. Thank you for your wise words, Carolyn.