This garden tomato isn’t the prettiest- she has flaws, rough spots along the skin and is just kind of dirty- worn from the elements of her growth. Slicing through toughened skin, nostalgia in scents of fresh and earth and home pour out. There laid open, the depth of hue and meat underneath skin tells of her intense flavor and beauty- better than anything store bought all shiny and blemish-free. And there He speaks, Isn’t it the same with your life? The imperfect life always tastes sweeter in the end.
My blemishes and wounds, the exposure to storms- they mottle and scar altering the landscape of me. Some of the flaws may cause others to pass me over for a prettier, less damaged option. And I strive hard and long to hide my imperfections- deflect the rough patches with humor, cover over the wounds with works to make you love me in spite of…me.
I haven’t been writing much for several months. OR more truthfully, I haven’t been writing with ease – the words coming in chokes, forced out at times in near defiance and spilled as tears to paper in others. Though I may celebrate and champion you on to embrace the mess of your own life, the fact of the matter is I prefer to keep my world neat. All grace and go get ’ems for others, doubt and condemnation when taking in my own race. Friends, my life has gotten really, really messy. And in the weeds, my words turn on me and run. I log onto “life” and am hit with the fact there is always someone better for the task in front of me. I scroll past super moms, uber homeschoolers, Proverbs 31 women by the dozen- rocking their marriages, their homes and dropping ten pounds to boot. There will always be smarter theologians, more poignant writers, photographers who make my work feel like prints sitting under the counter at WalMart no one cared enough to pick back up. Comparison…the thief of joy, the mirror of unworthy discontent. And there I hang clinging to the vine(1), tattered in wind, poked at by the birds of the air. It is I, not all the beautiful Internet people, who holds the keys to the undoing. Because I don’t know how to do this messy, without being ALL the mess. I can’t share my life and have it wrapped up tidy in 800 words or less for public consumption. Actually, I do know how, but not with an honest authenticity to where I care to still know my name by the time I press “publish.” Living and writing inside ALL the mess scares us, we just push our shopping carts right on past the bruised fruit because it is ugly and broken and sometimes just plain ol’ stinks. So the words halt, edit themselves void before ever exiting my soul. And friends, there is no resolution today, probably not tomorrow either. In the most transparent, humble way I know- by way of this barrier of screens and keyboards- I will tell you I am wrestling. I am questioning. I am reasoning(2) this mess out, and it’s ugly. I have the scars to prove. But the silence is strangling me, so in trepidation and a mustard seed of faith, here I am.
Standing there at the kitchen counter, summer burgers on the grill, kids heard playing in other parts of the house, scents of rain from an earlier thunderstorm still in the air, I slice an imperfect tomato, and lay bare my imperfect life to the One who sees and already knows, but never for a moment stopped loving.
*(1): I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:5 ESV
(2): Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. – Isaiah 1:18 ESV