Note that not only is Marilee weeping, but William is hiding behind me
Peter can always tell when I'm excited about something because I try, unsuccessfully, to hide my smile. Perhaps I'm afraid my excitement will come off as self-important or maybe I'm afraid he won't think it matters much. It happened again yesterday. I told him about another review of A Good and Perfect Gift and an opportunity to write for a blogger I admire. I could feel myself pressing down the excitement, trying to act as if it's no big deal.
And when I think about it, I know there are really two forces at work. There's the genuine joy of having done something that I love and being able to share that love with other people. And there's the prideful piece of me that thinks I deserve the recognition I get, or that feels some smug satisfaction about it all.
But if I tried to get rid of the pride, I would get rid of the joy too. I would pull them both out together.
I see this same messy combination in almost every area of my life. I gave up my 5:00 glass of wine for Lent. On the whole, it's been a good decision. The point was to turn my need for calm amidst the chaos of the dinner-hour in our household into a need for God's presence rather than a need for alcohol. But I'm also aware of the potential goodness in a glass of wine, the goodness Jesus must have recognized in providing it for the guests at the wedding feast and in drinking it with his disciples. Drinking wine is a way to disconnect from God, and it's a way to experience the joy of God's good creation.
To cite just one more example among many, I think of my days with my children. Laughter. Shouting. Giving in to William's demands to take his pacifier to school against my better judgment. Giving in to Marilee's implicit request that we read a book together as she thrusts it into my lap, knowing that the time with her is more important than the dishes in the sink.
My whole life is infused with sin—with pride and self-centeredness and impatience and short-circuiting God's work. And my whole life is infused with beauty—with excitement and joy and goodness. Jesus told a parable about the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.The owner's servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
‘An enemy did this,' he replied.
The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
‘No,' he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'
There's a part of me that wants to sort it all out. To only share my excitement about writing opportunities when I can't detect a hint of pride. To only drink a glass of wine if I'm sure I don't really need it I'm just enjoying it. To somehow regulate my relationships with my kids so that they only get the best version of me. And there's another part of me that gives thanks—that the that the wheat still grows amidst the weeds.