I tend to feel a little nostalgic on Thursdays, thanks to the #ThrowbackThursday trend across various social media networks. Actually, I’ve felt a bit nostalgic each day this week, remembering great memories from high school and my time at Calvin. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about my transition to Cincinnati and my first summer here.
I was listening to a Spotify playlist this afternoon and Bastille’s “Things We Lost In The Fire” came on. The lyrics instantly brought me back to a missiontrip we went on here in Cincinnati during my internship that summer. We spent the first day helping a family clean up after a house fire that occurred the day before. I left that afternoon with a small wooden cross that survived the fire and when our trip was over, I wrote about how I found beauty in the ashes that week.
The cross now sits on the top shelf of one of my bookshelves, right next to a beaded keychain I received from a wonderful Navajo woman on that summer’s trip to New Mexico. I see it often and it brings back beautiful memories of that summer when I had no idea what the heck I was doing in this city.
That summer, it taught me about finding beauty in the ashes and joy in dark places. Since then, I’ve found new meaning in this small piece of wood. It’s still dirty and if you smell it up close, there’s still a faint smell from the fire. If I’m honest, it’s a little gross, but I love it anyway. Not one part of me desires to wash it off or throw it out.
I love it because it’s not perfect. It has literally been through a fire. It’s discolored. It’s dirty. It’s something that would have been thrown out, had I not kept it.
I look at this cross in my room and I see myself.
I’m so incredibly far from perfect. I’m broken and sinful. No matter how hard I try, I will still fail because I’m only human. My life has been one season of rollercoaster rides after another. In the last five years alone, I’ve battled so many different things; I’ve been in and out of more figurative fires than I can remember.
And yet Jesus looks at me and calls me His. His child. His beloved.
He looks at me and doesn’t see my brokenness. He doesn’t see my failures. He doesn’t see how dirty or discolored I am. He sees me and he calls me beautiful. Redeemed. Worthy.
Society kind of sucks sometimes and it can feel like they’re throwing me out, but dang, is it comforting to know that there is not a single thing I can do that will make Jesus love me any more or any less.