It is difficult for me to be comfortable in polished situations anymore. When you walk in and everything looks just right. Where the “How are you?s” are answered vaguely and you can talk to someone for several minutes and not know them any better than before you started talking. Trials and pain are hidden or ignored. People’s mouths move and sound comes out, but the words start blurring together without meaning.
In contrast, it is a relief to walk into a situation that is not so controlled. Where things are a little messy, literally and metaphorically. Where the pain and the confusion are so real you can feel it, but so is the joy of the connection you have because of shared experience. Where “How are you?” is accompanied by a studying look and you know a truthful answer is expected.
That’s where I want to be. That’s where I feel I belong. Because I’m messed up, too, and I want to be around people who know it of me as much as they do themselves.
It makes me think of the chorus of a country song, sung by Rodney Atkins. While I don’t identify much with most of the lyrics, the chorus resonates with me:
These are my people
This is where I come from
We’re givin’ this life everything we’ve got and then some
It ain’t always pretty
But it’s real
That’s the way we were made
Wouldn’t have it any other way
These are my people
Recognizing this resonance as Christmas approaches, I realize something. Even with the tacky Santas and overstimulating decorations and nails-on-chalkboard pop songs and crazed shoppers… I still need Christmas. Because Christmas reminds me of when God chose to enter into this world, to become like us, to experience as we experience (see my piece in Sojourners, When Christmas Gets Real). Christmas was God entering a messy world through a messy situation to be with his messed-up people. I need to know that, to be reminded of that. Because that means God came to be with my kind of people. And to be with me.