intensely trivial


Today, in a rare fit of spending, I bought Ellie a porcelain ballerina Christmas ornament, to put on the tree after Thanksgiving. She was bedazzled by the endless, colorful displays of Christmas ornaments at Hobby Lobby (that were 1/2 off), and I told her she could pick out one ornament for our Christmas tree. I let Jonathan pick one out, too; he picked out a fish, caught on a fishing line, with the fishing lure attached. Ellie’s ballerina had a pink tutu, with pink glitter sprinkled all over, and pink toe shoes, and her thin little arms and legs were gracefully poised. I went on and on to Ellie and Jonathan about how they needed to be careful, especially with Ellie’s ballerina, because those thin arms and legs would break instantly if the ballerina were dropped on the floor. I said they could hold their ornaments for five minutes when they walked into our house, and I went to put away groceries. Within about one minute, I heard something hit the floor and break. I couldn’t breathe, knowing what I’d just heard. And in about two seconds, I heard Ellie’s wail of disbelief and grief as she comprehended that her perfect pink ballerina was broken.

Indeed, both arms were broken off, making the ballerina look like those ancient Greek statues who have lost their arms for good after thousands of years. Ellie sobbed for a long time, new waves of grief washing over her every time she looked at her broken ballerina. Jonathan had thrown it to the floor when she offered to let him hold it. She was sad, too, that he didn’t like the ballerina as much as she did. I held Ellie, sad for her, glad that we can at least try to glue the arms back on or go back to Hobby Lobby and get a new one for $3.

I think one of the reasons I was so sad is that lately it has felt like things all around me and in me are broken. And even though Ellie’s grief was over something seemingly small, she’s going to have to deal with the reality that life doesn’t work right a lot of the time. Most of the time, I think life is great! I am energized and excited by the things I get to do and be. In general, I’m happy about the way my life goes. I hear people at church saying we should look forward to heaven, but honestly, life is pretty good! Why would I want to go to heaven?

But lately, I’ve been getting tangled up in some of the same things that have tripped me up all my life: the depressing thought that maybe I’m not worth anything, maybe it’s not OK to be different, and the hopelessness of ever being happy with just the way things are. Mind you, I’m not depressed about this most of the time. But it comes up every so often, and I descend into some frightening depths. Some people would say that in those times, I just need to focus my mind on eternal biblical truths about people (including me). I do that sometimes, and it helps a little. But honestly, I need more than just mental gymnastics. I need a new heart and a new me who is healed from these longtime hurts, and I can’t conjure that up.

The friend who has been practicing spiritual direction on me (that sounds funny — really, she has been such a gift!) said this week that one thing is for sure: We’ll leave our struggles at the grave. I’d never thought about leaving my self-esteem issues — and all the others — there. Ideally, I’d like to work through everything before I die; within a week would be just fine. But if it takes my whole lifetime, I won’t stop working on it. If these things don’t get fixed until I die, then know that the moment I throw off these burdens forever, I will be one ecstatic mama! If you’re still around when I die, please throw a big party to celebrate the death of all my baggage! Though you won’t see me, I’ll be celebrating like the biggest party animal ever! And if I’m still here when you die, I will throw a big party for you, with a crazy, out-of-control cake, and the best band I can afford. (There’s a really great one in St. Louis that played at Brenna’s wedding, if they’re still around — see what I mean about not normally wanting to leave this life? I hope that band is in heaven. Seriously.)


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  1. * maar says:

    I could sit here and gush about you, and everything I’d say would be true–about how you’re a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air to everyone you meet, about how you are a spiritual inspiration to us all…

    But I need to say:
    If I could only live or even describe a healthy life of humility… We people need to recognize that we are little and weak and sinful. My man once said that God could send us all to hell and still be perfectly just. But the fact of the matter is, God found us valuable, so valuable that He paid a huge price for us = Jesus. I used to be a big fan of the terms self-confidence and self-esteem, but now I think those terms are hogwash. Confidence in self? Esteem of self? How can we have those things when we are human? Little and weak and sinful? The answer: we CAN be confident, but only in Jesus. Jesus graciously turned us from muck to pure, righteous people in His eyes. Muck having a chance for heavenly eternity? That’s a pretty awesome hope for a person made out of dirt.

    We need to have a healthy balance between humility and knowing that through Jesus we can be considered pure and holy and righteous. I’m not gonna call this balance “self-esteem” or “self-confidence.” I guess we could call it Jesus-confidence or Jesus-esteem because that’s what it should be.

    1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God is holy.

    I love you, Rachel!

    Posted 9 years, 6 months ago
  2. Maar,

    I love your response. I used to teach a Jr. High School Bible study class and one of the units we covered every year was entitled “Self-Esteem”. On the first day of those lessons, I passed out black sharpie markers and instructed every student to black out the word self. I’d then instruct them to select another marker, their favorite color, and write in capital letters above the blackened word GOD.

    Mrs. B

    Posted 9 years, 6 months ago

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