Cracks are all there is.

I was thinking last night about how earnestly hard we work to prevent the cracks from showing when really, cracks are all there is.

The Bible is full of cracked people, of course.  And somehow we read it and we think we will be different–we think that with all our hindsight and modern wisdom in hand, maybe our cracks just won’t show.

Light streaming through the top of a mosque.  Cairo, Egypt.  All photos by Ben Robinson.
Light streaming through the top of a mosque. Cairo, Egypt. All photos by Ben Robinson.

A former college classmate (who I admire very much) who writes a witty blog on faith and culture recently dubbed 2013 her year of epic failure.  She doesn’t want to fail, of course.  I think she mostly wants to learn how not to be so afraid of it, to be controlled by fear that she might and will fail, and remain one of us–you know, one of those phony, better-than-Biblical characters.

The other afternoon I heard a minister of a growing, vibrant, multicultural church describe his job as a series of humiliations.  A couple weeks ago a person I had judged as highly successful and privileged told me the secrets to her success included some epic fails along the way.  And finally today I told some friends about how I used to be so chicken to try new skills in gymnastics but my twin sister was a dare devil.  She fell more, but she also flew higher.

Evan and I buying lamps in old Cairo.
Evan and I buying lamps in old Cairo.

It’s telling that these people who share their failures don’t come off as flimsy, irresponsible, or incapable to me.  In fact, I tend to respect them even more.  I find their humility a breath of fresh air in a world where perfection is worshipped and as a result, insecurity, fear, and disbelief are often held far too dear.

It may sound cheesy, but I think another thing I relish about seeing my own cracks and those of others for what they are is that a little bit of God tends to peek through them.  It shouldn’t be so surprising that God makes us both cracked and beautiful, and that God doesn’t abandon us in failure (and neither do those who truly love us), but it is.

Sunset over Cairo.
Sunset over Cairo.

That’s how grace always feels: brand new and fresh, even though it’s always been there.  And suddenly the cracks look pretty beautiful…if you’re asking me.

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6 thoughts on “Cracks are all there is.

  1. Seriously, you have a knack for writing exactly what I need to hear. I’m sitting here working on (what feels like) a horrible dissertation and facing my own fear of acknowledging that I’ve spent more time doing things that are not valued in my grad school community, like being with my kids and my family and other people, than I do reading, writing and publishing like I’m told by this culture I should. I decided earlier this year to “fail” at this endeavor–I choose to not be the best grad student I can be. I’m aiming for middle-of-the-pack, late-bloomer, barely-scraping by. I’ve never done that before. But I can’t have the lightning focus and perfect polish I need to be successful and still be the kind of person I want to be. It’s hard, but setting myself up to “fail” (or at least not be the most perfect grad student I can be) is exactly what I need to do. Hearing you write about this now feels like a gift, as always. I’m putting it away and headed off to pizza with the kids! 🙂

    1. Jessica, that is THE hardest thing for high-achieving folks, and I really resonate with the struggle. Ironically it takes more of God and less of us to really “succeed” at the things we care about, and for me, it’s hard to keep that fact in focus, when especially academia wants to tell us otherwise. It was really heartening to talk the other day with my colleagues about writing a dissertation as an act of faith. I’m sure you’ve thought of this before and would love to talk more. Hang in there, you’re an inspiration to so many.

  2. We are all certainly cracked. I love the analogy. By the grace of God we hold it together as best we can. We are so blessed to have the Lord who is always faithful even when we are not.

  3. I loved this post. There is something humbling and wonderful – especially for high-achieving folks – about failing, falling, knowing that we will be caught. I needed to hear this. Thanks, Erin.

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