I can guarantee that this is the first of many musings on my part brought on by a nice meal, some alone time, and good tunes. A nice beverage may also have been involved.
The scene is this: me standing at the kitchen sink with the sponge in my hand staring at the pile of dishes, my beautiful son asleep in his crib – likely with a foot or arm caught between the bars of the crib – and my one-in-a-gagillion–incredible-wife cozy in bed, the single recessed light shining on me like a bluesy spotlight with the sultry growl of Dave Matthew’s in my headphones.
Tonight I had dinner with some amazing people, my son got to play with his day-care-friend AND his church buddy, I got to spend some time with an old college friend and my priest, who is also my Father-co-worker-friend (since we work at the same church, share an office, and have so much of the same humor and vision of ministry), and my wife was able to connect with other incredible professional working moms.
Tomorrow I have a call scheduled with my mother at 9am, and my Tennessee friend at 10am (Pacific Standard Time; another post on the ridiculousness of Daylight Savings Time some other day…) And at 10am I shall bid adieu to my mom because, frankly, I am excited to chat with my Tennessee friend. I miss that guy. And my mom will understand.
…back to the scene with the spot light and Dave Matthew’s… I was embarrassed. Alone in my gym shorts and plain white Hanes t-shirt, doing the dishes, excited to talk to my friend for so many years, I was embarrassed. Why? I suddenly felt so Christian. Because Christians say the silliest things! We say things like “I want to do life together” (this means we like to drink coffee and confess our sins in the afternoon), and “that was some great fellowship” (this means we like to drink coffee and confess our sins in the evening), and “I just want to love on you” (which means we like to drink coffee and you just confessed your sins to me so I’d like to give you a hug). And this sounds so silly!
Is it because the masculine nature of “secular” has perverted the world of the silly Christian? I think so. I think what Christians say sounds silly because the rest of the world is uncomfortable with tenderness. And those that aren’t Christians are afraid to embrace Jesus because he embodies the totality of sacrifice and tenderness. Jesus, while pierced and bleeding proclaimed to those that did the piercing, “forgive them,”. This sounds silly. And when the Christian that is beaten to the brink of death in the Middle East says to his transgressors, “God loves you, and therefore I shall love you too”, this sounds just plain ridiculous.
So Dave Matthew’s growl persists, “And today, you know that’s good enough for me. Breathing in and out’s a blessing can’t you see…” And I thought, ‘what a silly Christian thing to say…’
And I was wrong. It’s right to understand breath as blessing. It’s wrong to tell Dave Matthew’s he’s silly and expect him to stop breathing. It’s right to be excited about talking with my friend. He was, and still is, an incredible influence in my life. A lot of my Christian formation happened through his mentorship and friendship. And tomorrow, while I’m speaking to my mother and the phone rings on the other line, I shall say with much tenderness, “see ya Mom, gotta go…”
Don’t underestimate the tenderness that we experience through Jesus. And don’t undervalue it either. Yes, it sounds silly to say things like. “lets do life together” (because literally that’s saying you want to exist in the same room together). There’s something right to understanding the kingdom of God that necessitates a tender soul and tender disposition.