The Hidden Sacred
“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” (Luke 19:5)
Last month I had the closest thing to a nervous breakdown that I’ve ever experienced. I was seriously a mess…between school, moving to a new position at work, and a million other things, I felt like I didn’t have a spare moment to breathe. I rarely allow myself to show weakness and admitting I can’t handle something is admitting failure. So I put a smile on my face while my insides are dying a slow death, suffocating and compressing under the weight of my own expectations until I shatter.
And shatter I did. Into a million pieces with sharp edges and bleeding wounds and zero ability to put myself back together again. I reached out in desperation to everyone I knew and asked them to pray for me. But strangely found that I couldn’t even mutter a single plea to God myself.
That week at church, we studied Zaccheus and later discussed the sermon in our Home Community. We talked about how it wasn’t enough for Jesus to simply talk with Zaccheus out in the open but demanded that Zacc take him to his home–the most sacred and hidden thing…a place where our public personas are shed like a jacket left hanging on a hook by the front door. It’s a place where we walk around in leggings with unwashed hair and unbrushed teeth and while some of us might do a really good job of posting perfectly styled corners of rooms on Instagram, we all know that beyond the lens, dust is collecting in the corners, drawers are disorganized, and kitchen cupboards are overflowing with food while the poor in the neighborhood rifle though our recycle bins looking for cans.
Most of the time, I work really, really hard at keeping up the appearance of my house…well, that’s not true. I keep it up when I know we have people coming over and as people shower my new, gorgeous kitchen with praise and compliments I “humbly” deflect the comments with a flippancy that inherently implies it always looks this sparkly and wonderful, when I know deep down just one hour ago I was on my hands and knees cleaning every inch in a near state of panic. So as we talked about Zacchaeus I thought about myself and how stressed I had been, how much of a mess I really was, and how I had come face to face with my own imperfection and was shattered because of it. While I had reached out for prayers from others, somehow I felt too much of a disaster to cry out myself. The thought of inviting Jesus to see that sacred space at a time when I had no chance to clean it up first, disguise the clutter, and throw crap behind locked closet doors scared me so much.
I’ve realized it brings so much anxiety because I can’t control how I appear. I can’t keep Jesus at an arm’s distance and try to convince him that because the outside appearance seems to be in order that the rest of me is that way too. What if he tries to open the closets? What if he sees past the disguises I try to maintain?
And I know these questions are ludicrous because He ALREADY sees past it all…all these trivial games I play to convince myself I am someone diferent. The thought of distance is a lie I use as protection. But WHY? Why do I keep myself (or honestly, just a version) of myself tidied up for display? I think it’s because I somehow have come to believe this is the only version God could love. The “pretty one,” the “I have it all together,” one.
Heck, I’m even scared to leave the house without mascara.
I’ve yet to understand the true depth of what it means to be loved by Christ. And I think of that fear and freedom that co-exists when Jesus shows up unannounced at my door. And it’s hard and I want to cry out in shame, but He doesn’t let me.
Instead, You reach into the sink of dirty dishes, rinse two mugs out and make a pot of coffee. I stammer and apologize for the mess and You sit down at the kitchen table anyway and before I can talk myself out of it, I’m sitting down with You and we are talking and I’m laughing and crying all at once. And more importantly, You don’t leave. You.don’t.leave. In fact, You are staying for dinner and it looks like nothing you would find on Pinterest, Martha Stewart, or Real Simple. You don’t stand in the doorway with a list of items that needs to be cleaned up before you will enter. You come in BECAUSE of that. To show me how you love me amidst the sacred I try to keep hidden.
And I don’t have to be afraid of that. To be loved at the very core of who you are is not a love to run from. It is a love to fling the door wide open to. It lays you bare and changes you forever.