Let’s slay maths today because maths is hard and I hates it!
I jest a bit, in truth I have some math intuition and “knowing” that will at least get me through high school algebra. I remember the struggles to teach my kids and their complaints, “I’m never going to use this in the real world!” They were totally right, too. You will probably never need this silliness….. Except perhaps for shoe sales. Being able to calculate 30 percent off, BOGO, plus sales tax and determine if you still have enough money leftover for a latte is really IMPORTANT. This is the stuff of life, people.
My dad was a real math whiz and he often spoke of the music and mystery within numbers. There is magic there. Also, it is not real, “real” in the sense of being natural, material, biological, tangible. I can’t “prove” math to someone like I might prove “trees.” I can help you to “know” a tree by having you walk face first into it. See, it’s “real” enough. But to prove math, all I have is some chicken scratch on a piece of paper and without some understanding of what the symbols mean, it’s all just gibberish.
Spiritual things are a bit like that, too. They have to be known and felt, experienced. Trusted in. Love is like that, too. And God is love.
I often feel like this girl trapped behind plastic wrap. Yep, Saran Wrap Girl. I’m screaming behind plexi glass, all these people are walking by, and yet no one can hear me. For the past year or so I’ve been working in a situation where communication is really challenging. Some people don’t speak English, some people who do, don’t listen, and nobody speaks…..love. God is love and love is actually a spiritual language, kind of like math.
Oh, we all know the “words,” and sometimes we know the feeling of “love” or think we do, but it’s all kind of meaningless, like chicken scratch on a page, if you haven’t received it, if Jesus is not just an intuitive part of your whole being.
Those are probably some controversial words, sure to cause offense. I’m not trying to be mean here or judgy. I just know people don’t yet really know the love of Christ by the way they treat themselves and other people. In the land of All Tolerance For All Things Always, I’m not supposed to say that. Might make people “feel bad.”
Recently in the early morning I had yet another a kid across from my house try to over dose and kill himself. He’s lucky to be alive, it was not a good scene. It was a miracle he had friends who thought to check on him or he’d be dead. So you know, drama, screaming, yelling, wrestling the guy down, blood, ambulances, cops. All I could do was stand back, pray he survived, and so far he has, so that’s a good thing. Then I told his friends that Jesus loves them and that they are always welcome to come to church where we too will love them.
That’s such a simple message, but to those who don’t understand, don’t speak the language, it’s like trying to explain computer coding to someone living in the 3rd century. I got nothing but these x’s an o’s I can scratch on a piece of paper. Except there wasn’t even really “paper” as we know it in the 3rd century. Never mind coding, let me try to explain paper….
I try so hard not to make people “feel bad.” Your “feeling bad” is so not my goal. Much like trying to introduce my kids to math was not actually about trying to make them miserable.
It was an odd juxtaposition, in the aftermath of this really awful scene, I encountered the almost comical, “you shouldn’t make people feel bad by telling them Jesus loves them.” Right. Like I said, I often feel like a girl trapped behind plexi glass trying to communicate in a foreign land where nobody speaks the language. It’s heart breaking sometimes.
Call me crazy, but actually rejection, depression, addiction, homelessness, suicide, and near death, are the “feel bad” things of life. Not the love of Jesus! Jesus just wants to pour His healing love into all the parts of you that need Him. And we ALL need Him.
It is actually love and community that so often helps to keep the bad things away. There aren’t a lot of simple answers in life, but that one sure is. What tends to ail us is always separation and isolation, separation from God, separation from other people. If you grew up in the fractured reality of dysfunction, a broken culture, and chaotic relationships, what I call the 9th circuit of hell, you won’t understand that until you take a leap of faith and reach for what is missing. What is missing is an unknown, a variable. So you have to reach for what you cannot see and do not yet fully understand, and trust that the equation can be solved, becasue math has a tangible substance to it…..if you trust and believe.
“Feeling bad” really is not about a gentle invitation to come visit church, a church filled with many people who have probably walked right where you are. Maybe you know everything already. So come and teach the rest of us! Even if you don’t think you need the church, the church sure needs you.
I need you, because math is really hard and watching people suffer hurts.