Having a blog is weird. You’re writing and you’re putting it on the internet for anyone to read, but unless your blog really breaks out (which this one has not) it’s mostly just your friends and family reading it, and since you’re writing about things that happen to you, you’re writing about your friends and family… and that can be awkward. So when writable things happen, I usually try to wait an appropriate amount of time and mask enough of the details to shield all guilty parties. And to dull the edges a bit. But recently, the hits just seem to keep on coming, so I’m failing big time at the whole “give it some time” style of writing.
And today will be no exception.
A good friend sent me an S.O.S. the other day. She was having one of those I-just-realized-I’m-going-to-be-a-40-something-mom-with-young-kids moments, which is a treat all on its own, but it was topped with and-my-mom-has-been-saying-some-unhelpful-shit-lately (language mine). And as I read her text, I knew immediately how I was going to respond, but I was mad. Not at her, but at God. Because seriously, G?! You’re going to have me encourage someone else as I’m facing THE EXACT SAME THING?! I mean, I can do it. And I will, but come on… it’s just a little on the nose, no?
But the more I thought about it, the more thankful I was for the timing of it all. Because it was a fantastic reminder that I’m not as special as I think. And neither are my problems.
When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:21
Do you know who the “his/him/he” referenced in that verse is? It’s Jesus. As in Jesus Christ. And in THE Jesus. He’s out and about, living his life, doing his thing and his family is hearing about it and they just don’t get it. If you’ve never read this passage of scripture, you really should – Mark 3:20-35 – Because it is fascinating. And heartbreaking. Basically, Jesus comes to town and a huge crowd gathers to hear him. His family hears about it and are like “That can’t be right.” and posse up to go get him. Meanwhile, Jesus is facing off with the religious leaders, who are accusing him of casting out demons with the help of demons. Attributing the good they’ve all seen Him do to some undercover evil. So Jesus shares the “house divided cannot stand” parable which says… well, that a house divided cannot stand. And just as He finishes that and is told that his mother and brothers are outside, Jesus is like “My who?”
He refuses to go out to see them and says that the people with him are his family (#shade #noshade). And then the Bible just moves on to another story. We don’t get to see how his family reacted. We don’t get to hear the voicemails Mary left or see the subtweets his brothers hit him with. And just taking that moment when Jesus is like “Nah, this my family now.” we can tend to be a little hard on Jesus, like “Dang, Jesus. It’s like that?” Until you look at the whole picture and realize what kind of day Jesus was having.
I’m not sure at what point of his ministry this happened, but whenever it is, he’s got some momentum. He’s speaking, he’s healing, he’s casting out demons and people are picking up what he’s laying down. And then here comes religion to say “You’re not doing it right. Yeah, it might look good on the surface, but we’ve never seen anything like this and we have all the answers, so you must be doing something wrong.” And just as Jesus has finished explaining why that’s dumb, he notices a murmur going through the crowd and someone tells him that his family would like to see him. Outside. Think about that – his family doesn’t even bother to come in. Yeah, the house was crowded, but do you really think people wouldn’t have made room for the mother of Jesus? Instead of squeezing in to get a closer look at what Jesus was doing with his life, they decided to stay outside. And try to call him out. Literally and figuratively.
And maybe Jesus knew why they were there just by virtue of being Jesus and knowing all things, or maybe he knew because they’d had the conversation before. And maybe Jesus was just tired. Because I don’t care who you are, it’s a hard thing when the people who you would think would be your biggest cheerleaders start to doubt you. And side with religion in accusing you. Especially, if you’re already questioning yourself.
One of the hardest/most annoying things about being single is constantly having to answer for it. Whether the question is well-meaning or meant to be cutting, “So why are you still single?” is never helpful. Because there is no answer. Singleness is not something wrong. It’s not something to be fixed. I KNOW that. And I still struggle sometimes. Because way too many of our systems (church included… church especially) automatically devalue and suspiciously view single people, so the leap between “you’re still single” and “there must be something wrong” isn’t even a leap. It’s a lazy-ass fall into the closest ditch. A ditch that is honestly easier to fall into than to stay out of. So we’ve all been there. Even though we know marriage is not a reward for the worthy (because we all know horrible people who have gotten married) we still wonder what what’s wrong with us. And it’s not just marriage, pretty much any dream that we have, whether it has to do with career, relationship, family, whatever, we always have a list of all the reasons why it can and will happen for everyone else, but probably shouldn’t and won’t for us.
And when I read this story, I wonder if Jesus had the same kind of list.
I wonder how often the fully God part of him had to wrestle with fully human doubts. If he was tempted in all the ways that we are, then he had to be tempted to worry that he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. That he was failing. That his life didn’t look “normal” because he was somehow abnormally flawed. And maybe when Jesus was talking about a house divided, he was trying to tell us something about our souls. And our personal demons. And how they can’t be cast out by the things they bring with them. So whatever the thing is in your life that makes you feel anxious or abnormal, any action you would be driven to take because of fear or worry or condemnation, is probably not the answer. And any voices that are going to feed into those things… well… you might need to leave them outside.
And that can be really hard. To know that someone loves you and means well, but can’t be trusted inside some of the areas of your heart. Not at the moment. Like I said, we don’t know how his family reacted or how long they were estranged, but we do know that Mary was with him in his final hours and that she was with the apostles on the day of Pentecost, so she definitely came around at some point. But the only reason she had someplace to come around to was because Jesus kept to his path, held to his convictions and followed the call of God on His life. And that’s all that any of us can do.
And in the meantime, don’t be afraid to lean on your crowd. To let yourself be bolstered by the belief that your friends have in you and to learn to be a friend to yourself. Because no, you’re not perfect, but even if you were (see: Jesus) people would still have questions and accusations. So if you’re feeling misunderstood, take it as a good sign. You’re in pretty good company.