Oh this hurts, doesn’t it?
Have you seen the Sarah Silverman clip? The one where her brain and heart explode on the screen in front of us because she loves her friend Louis, but also…how? Because he masturbated in front of all those females, and Sarah’s a stalwart in the women’s rights arena.
Do we humans have the capacity to hold the Good and the Hard in another? No, I’ll rephrase that because we can’t offer to another what we ourselves have refused to receive.
Are you able to hold your own glory and horror?
It feels good believing that maybe God sanctioned off a few people to the side after She molded our clay on the sixth day. That would make this world, and God, easier to digest—we wouldn’t need a Tums after consuming Christ’s reckless Love.
Remember how when you hug your own Hard too tightly it becomes Good?
Remember the tattoos. I can see Louis, Harvey, and Spacey there, too.
Remember that you’re an abuser, too. Because maybe you grabbed your son’s arm too tightly, and there was that one time you did that one thing mostly by accident. Remember how we’re all wounded, not wicked? These men made really destructive, shalom-shattering choices. PERIOD, full stop.
I think they also forgot that God called them Good in the Garden. I think toxic male masculinity models and shame-based purity culture fueled by empty religion really fucked us up. Life, and forgetting, and lies have created a sticky soul plaque. We can’t see the pearly parts because we’ve eaten too much sugar, porn, TV, video games, and pretend versions of God.
This right here, this is the dentist visit of the century for us humans.
Do you feel the grating and scratching away? Are you sensing a little more stress and anxiety because you’re stuck in a chair (or a weeping planet) and the buzz of our collective cries just hurts too much?
Can you even believe we’re here? You knew we had an issue, you just didn’t know how to solve it.
Here’s what happens next.
Let those layers go. Yes, the scraping hurts. Maybe the promise that the dentist isn’t a dick will help you? I promise. Let all those versions of God get sucked into that clear plastic tube that’s shoved toward the back of your mouth.
While we’re here we may as well offer up anything else that is starting to feel too tight. The self-harm, political & tribal identities, and secrets can go now, right? Do you have straight-to-jail-and-hell-secrets, too? A few years ago I let those layers go and now you can see my pearly parts again.
Love held me close even with my oozing wounds—so much pus and blood and shame. God’s outrageous grace made no sense, and in that embrace that I learned how to hug myself. If God loves me no matter what, then I can love me no matter what.
Oh this hurts, doesn’t it?
At some point our brightness comes back. And it gets tricky here, because we want everyone to know about the dental/soul work going on the back room. We see the grime in others and for a moment, or a year, we focus on their yuck instead of keeping our own soul clean.
Their yuck is theirs. Your yuck is yours.
Keep going back for your check-ups. I try to get in daily because it’s grungy out there. Meditate, pray, serve, drink water and eat salad, hug a kid or a dog, write down the truth. Did you know that fear can take root in the mammalian brain in two seconds. Something threatens us, we panic, and we’re gone—spinning in fear land.
Did you know it can take up to fifteen seconds for a positive thought to settle in? We have evolved to choose fear over truth and joy. Whenever I feel the heaviness, sense the plaque building up, or can start to hear the cries I go to the empty white pages in front of me and record everything I know is Truth. It’s like brushing my teeth, but with a fine-tip fountain pen.
God’s not a dick.
God is Good, and Hard. And Good.
I can’t fuck it up and neither can anyone else.
We’re all gonna make it.
I am capable and effective.
I am Good.
And on and on and on.
Reading words written by others who feel the heavy weight and can smell their own breath helps, too. The psalms are just David shocked by his odor while hating on others for their own stench. #Humans. Isn’t it nice to know that scripture was written by people who feel the same way we do? Anne Lamott and the Twelve Steps work, too.
Do we have the ability as a nation to hold the glory and horror of humanity side-by-side? I think we’re getting there. In my own experience rage always comes before the sadness. And then sadness reluctantly leaves a breadcrumb trail for glory. First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising, as Glennon says.
If Sarah and the rest of us keep showing up for this horror then we win. Don’t look away, turn off the TV and close the computer; consider leaving your phone in another room. Inhale and exhale, lots of times. This dentist trip needs to happen without the Lidocaine, numbing only keeps the pain pushed away.