Recently my mom sent me a care package in the mail, including one of my favorite books, “Broken Vessels” by Andre Dubus. He is not a well-known author and if you haven’t read him (and are in need of a book recommendation), I highly advise you pick up a copy. Andre Dubus writes personal essays (among many other things) about his his family, his marine corps service, his faith, his childhood, etc, often weaving these many aspects of his life into a single compact essay. He brings the sacred into the ordinary, examining transcendence of the spirit in our everyday world. Reading his essays reminds me that God does not just live in the church, but is with us as we grow, learn, and fail.
In Dubus’ essay, “On Charon’s Wharf” he writes,
“For our lives are hurried and much too distracted, and one of the strangest and most dangerous of all distractions is the lethargy of self we suffer from, this part of ourselves that does not want to get out of bed and once out of bed does not want to dress and once dressed does not want to prepare breakfast and once fed does not want to work. And what does it want? Perhaps it wants nothing at all. It is a mystery, a lovely one because it is human, but it is also dangerous.”
Right now I want to bring light to a place where I have failed. I have been lazy and distracted. In my lethargy, I have yet to write my blog posts. I don’t have any great excuse — only that I have given in to my lovely dangerous human tendencies. Normally, when I struggle to turn in an assignment, I frantically hide behind excuses which are never fully true and, in turn, I never fully forgive myself. There is too much unnecessary guilt weighing on me from past assignments turned in late and sloppily finished. Instead of hiding from shame (which ironically has only brought me more shame), I want to fully admit to my mistakes and bring God into my ordinary human life – one that is full of distractions. In my eyes, being human is not shameful. As Dubus writes, distractions are lovely because they are human. But they can also be dangerous. How can we let God into these lovely, dangerous tendencies? I’m not sure, but I want to try by opening myself up to my faults, forgiving myself, loving myself, and doing what I can to keep trying. I may not always write my blog posts on time (or at all) but those failings are not spaces without God, they are spaces to acknowledge my humanity and to grow. There is common saying, which in some form or another, says, “Your failures do not define you.” But I think, maybe they do — or at least a part of you. Instead of ignoring our failures, let’s acknowledge them for what they are and let God in. We often (or at least I do) push our mistakes into the corner and pretend they don’t exist. We leave God out of it, inviting the spirit into our best moments, but hoping She doesn’t see our worst. We are doing ourselves a disservice. We are human. We are beautiful. And we can also be dangerous. God lives in all parts of our lives, let’s lift up them up (to the lord!) with openness, forgiveness, and love, instead of getting bogged down in secrets and shame. Here lies the true beauty of confession as a way to love ourselves wholly, and not just the better parts of ourselves.