Death and Deity

I am learning to be more honest.

I am learning that the image we present to the world is the one we want people to believe. So we put our best foot forward and only post pictures on our facebook account that we want people to see. We delete the pictures that are less than favorable, and we highlight stories about our successes and our smiles and our norman rockwellness.

But that is not reality. The truth is, we all have pictures that make us shudder to look at. We all have a virtual trash bin of images that we keep hidden from the public eye. This image management allows the world to see only what we want them to see.

After the death of my friend Gina Carlin, I noticed that so many of her friends joined me in grieving her loss. We spoke in monotone regret-stained whispers, of her memory. We elevated her status to the point of sainthood, and bowed down her to deity. And as I caught myself in mid-conversation, the thought occurred to me that we have done her an injustice:

We do each other no favors by denying the brokenness that we all share.

I am not perfect. I take horrible pictures. Not every day is a full of walks in the woods with my wife, or swinging my daughters around at the beach. In reality, we argue at times - just like every couple I know. We yell at our "precious angels" for not obeying us immediately. We stress out over money. We avoid taking the trash out. We delete 95% of the pictures on the digital camera, and let people see the few that make us look better than we are.

But this is exactly where incarnation meets us; the Sacred collides with the common. It is in this very ordinary messiness, that humanity becomes holy. As we realize our imperfection it makes us weak in the knees - we bend to the One who extends the grace we need to keep going.

And when we are weak, then we our strong. When we realize our condition, and we are courageous enough to be honest about our brokenness, then the message of the cross takes on a deeper conviction to be lived out.

So we stumble and fall, we falter and rage, we deny and curse. But one thing remains constant, a Jesus who waits for us to answer the question: "do you love me?"


Mama K said...

Sometimes I delete the pictures, not so much because I don't want others to see me that way, but more that I don't want to see me that way. Sometimes I'm ugly, at least I think so. I think it's about shame. But when He forgave us, didn't He do away with all the shame? Wait, did He? Well, he did away with Guilt. And He loves me completely, with abandon, and joyfully, right? So I think maybe the shame is how I see things, not how He sees it.

Just thinking.

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer not to whisper about Q; I'd rather shout about her from rooftops-- all the good and all the bad-- but there are societal rules in place which we must follow and feelings we must consider, so when we do speak of her, it does sound as if we've raised her to the level of Deity. Mama K hit the nail on the head saying it's about shame and how WE see things, not how HE sees things. Eventually the two views will meet, but until then, we are imperfect, flawed humans that clumsily claw and scratch our way through our days. While we stumble along, we learn very important lessons that bring us closer and closer to transcendence. Thanks for the post, Jay. xo - TJ

Terry said...

dear jerry d...i went through gina's blog too.
i never knew her except after her death when my friend, cheryl jada gigi told us about her. she wanted us to pray for gina's family.
one picture in her blog was so sad.
it was in her sept 4/05.
on this sad picture she has written,
"overwhelmed but blessed"...
oh she looks so sad, not like all of the other pictures!
as far as deleting or not putting on unfavourable pictures of myself jerry, i am very guilty! but really though most pictures of me ARE unfavourable..i guess that is why i always insist on being the one BEHIND the camera!

i hope that whenever i do fall and that is often..i hope jerry d that i will always be able to tell jesus that i love him because i know that he will always love me and never stops!
with christian love, terry

BrianJ said...

Very good thoughts Jerry. If others were to see the thoughts of our heart instead of the "masks" we wear, then we would never post any pictures.
God seems to keep digging deeper to rid myself of my pride. We all tend to want to take pride in our physical appearance, intelligence, or social status etc. One thing that's helped me is to imagine myself as a crippled elephant man (you know that guy who people would almost throw up to look at). If I were to post pictures of my true nature...I am that elephant man and have nothing to glory in except for the grace of God....AND! when I look in Jesus face, I am a child of the KING! Press on until the elephant man is dead and the prince lives forever in the Kingdom. It won't be long...