On Wading into the Mess
In Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey writes:
“We keep it quiet, the mess of the Incarnation–particularly at Christmas–because it’s just not churchy enough, and many don’t quite understand. It’s personal, private, and there just aren’t words for it–and it’s a bit too much. It’s too much pain, too much waiting, too much humanity, too much God, too much work, too much joy or sorrow, too much love, and far too messy with too little control.”
I think she’s spot on. And anyone who has witnessed a birth knows it! The birthing process is a lot of things, but it’s certainly not clean, controlled, measured and clinical.
Instead, it’s messy. Very messy.
Beautiful, but messy.
And it seems to me that this is how it is when God breaks through. It’s beautiful and it’s messy.
Last year around this time, I wrote the following about Christmas:
“Let’s face it, for Jesus the Incarnation was a messy journey from power to powerlessness. Think about it. It’s a long way from the awesome trappings of Heaven to the sordid confines of Earth. In fact, Christmas marks the largest power exchange in human history.”
This year, I’m reflecting a bit more on the mess that comes with the Incarnation. Because the more I dig into this stuff, the more clear it becomes that this process of exchanging power is anything but clean and easy.
Here’s what I mean:
I open my eyes more fully to the injustice perpetuated every day against women…and it hurts. It’s hard to read the stories, and the solutions feel elusive and beyond me. I feel powerless. It would be much easier–much less messy–to remain blissfully unaware.
Or I willingly and even joyfully release my male privilege, intentionally choosing to release power so that others can flourish, only to be left with…what? I’m not sure. After all, paradigm shifts are often messy.
Or twice a week, every week, I write about male privilege, sending off my post and then wondering what you all think. That’s rarely an comfortable experience. Challenging Tertullian means it’s messy in my soul sometimes!
Or, lastly, I press into relationships across gender lines, trying to figure out how to have deep friendships and meaningful partnerships with the women in my life. Sometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps back.
All in all, it’s a messy business. Thankfully, it’s also a beautiful business.
Just like the Incarnation.