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Tripping Over My Pedestals

September 8, 2009

I have this naughty tendency towards pedestals. They are pretty and white and shiny (at least the ones in my head are). They stand tall and straight, like sunflowers, and seem harmless. I’m just tipping one little thing on top of it — no need to worry. It’s just one small thing — a habit, a word, a relationship, a person — and I tuck it carefully onto the pedestal, where it can be kept safe and distanced from all the messy breaking and tripping and stickiness and reality down here.

It’s better for the thing to be up there, away from all the chaos down here, I tell myself. It’s much, much better.

The problem with pedestals is that they grow. It’s subtle at first — something as basic as ignoring a first sign of weakness, or a slightly growing compulsion towards something that feels just the tiniest bit unholy. Easily ignored, I go on, and leave the pedestal alone for awhile. Then one day, I go to polish it, only to realize that it’s doubled, tripled in size, and is towering over me. It’s no longer safe and pretty and shiny — it’s huge and terrifying and paralyzing.

I put a lot of things on pedestals, especially people. In my deepest desires to love the potential in all people, I end up smacking my head on the pedestals I place them on, and experience shock when they fail and disappoint and hurt me. (In essence, when they cease being pretty statues and begin being human.) As I was driving home from my House Church tonight, I was thinking about this, and David’s proclamation from Psalm 16 popped into my head.

“I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord. Apart from You, I have no good thing.'” -Psalm 16:2

I don’t think God wants to be on a pedestal. If He did, He wouldn’t have come to us in raw, writhing, frail human form. Humans don’t fare so well on pedestals, because by nature, we are shaky and breakable. God wanted to grasp us in all our cracks and imperfections, so He came as Jesus — a simple carpenter who was probably rather plain, with dusty feet (and I’m betting a very impressive beard). Jesus didn’t like pedestals either. He liked being right next to people’s brokenness, being right in the sludge and despair of it all. He didn’t want to be distant and safe and shiny. He wanted to be muddy and bruised just like us, so that we might have a God who could understand what it felt like to be human.

He is the Author of all good things; beauty, experience, love, compassion, grief, wonder. He cannot be separate from them, so, when I try to pull the two apart, I end up with handfuls of splinters.

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.”

My heart is sealed for His courts, for the vivacity and radical love of His kingdom, for His grace that is my first true identity. It is not sealed first for marriage, for a successful writing career, for a family, for a really good batch of cupcakes, or any of the other things I try to polish into passing as fulfillment.If they are apart from Him, or replacing Him, that pedestal instantly gets a lot wobblier, and tends to crash a lot sooner.

And I have the bruises to prove it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    September 8, 2009 9:55 pm

    beautifully put…simply beautiful! 🙂

  2. Caroline permalink*
    September 22, 2009 8:08 am

    @ Amanda!

    Thanks, my dear. 🙂 I’m excited for our lunch date this weekend, so I can hear all about the engagement!

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