Jesus in the Dirt

I used to think cussing was dangerous. Bless my heart. I was raised Southern Baptist, you know. And that denomination gave me strong roots and a theology that was deep at its core but flawed at the edges. It introduced me to Jesus, but the Jesus I took from it was void of the real Jesus I now know, the Jesus that is dusty and dirty, in the trenches with the woman caught in adultery and the murderer next to him on the cross. It was void of his compassion, of his grit, of his authenticity. It was void of the Jesus who raises our shamed faces from looking in the dirt, looks into our weary souls and asks, “Where are your accusers now?” The one who kneels down with us in our grief, the grief that feels like the death of our very selves, and weeps with us.

It was my family and my church that gave him to me as a child, but it has been my deepest moments of pain where I’ve felt my heart crumbling in my hands that I’ve met this Jesus in the dirt. When I lost babies in the womb long prayed for, when our marriage seemed too steep a mountain to climb, when I felt betrayed and wounded and left and so so scared.

This Jesus did not come to me in the pews, but on my bedroom floor, in my bathtub, in my weeping, in my mourning, in the woods, in my headphones, in the middle of giving birth, in sunsets, in conversations and hundreds of text messages from sacred sisters, over dinner, in bread and wine, in books, in writing. He wades through my darkest waters of shame and misconceptions of him and settles in various forms. He does whatever he must to get to my heart, to remind me He’s always here, none of this through my own striving or trying to get to him, he is always reaching to get to me. I keep forgetting this and he keeps reminding me. The deepest reminders always in the deepest pain.

Maybe it’s because when our hearts are cracked wide open we can finally let love in. Maybe when we finally stop running and stop numbing, when we figure out that the anesthetics only create more pain, that’s when we can truly see Him and receive from HIm. Maybe that’s when we see things most clearly.

I think it says something about the ferocity of His love that when we are most covered in our pain, which oftentimes means we are most buried in our grief and shame, and it is harder to get to our heavy and burdened hearts, He does. He wades through the deep waters and he uncovers and he digs to find us. He is relentless in His pursuit of us and I can’t imagine anything more loving. To wade through someone’s grief and be present to them through it is not an easy or polite thing. It is a thing of fierce love and kindness. It is bold and intense and unrelenting.

And I find myself now so thankful that He is not only found in the pews or inside the four walls of a church, but on the bathroom floor, in the desperate prayer of a stripper, in a new mother’s fear, beside a hospital bed, in separation, in recovery, in group text messages, in best friends, in lovers, in boundaries, in music, in dancing, in food, in laughter, in pain, in grief, in healing.

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