Prince Harry. Megan Markel. Oprah. The Interview. Explosive revelations. When pressure from the tabloids left Megan suicidal, the palace refused her request for psychiatric help. Harry said that an unnamed person in the royal family was concerned how dark their son’s skin might be. Prince Charles won’t return Harry’s phone calls,
Wow. Just. Wow.
The smartest take about all this came from a psychology professor: “MOST families are dysfunctional. That shouldn’t surprise or embarrass us. No matter how rich or famous, ALL families have flaws and feuds. Mostly, we hide these dysfunctions so thank you, Harry and Megan, for reminding us that it is OKAY to have a dysfunctional family.”
In fact, the Bible is essentially one, big story of one, big dysfunctional family that God just doesn’t give up on: Imperfect people who God still perfectly loves — despite disaster, betrayal, inconsistency, infidelity, you name it. God still loves us, the human family. God still loves you. Not the thin you. The you you are now. Not the “successful” you, but the you with the mess you’re in today.
In fact, God loves us so much that God joined the family. God married into the mess when God joined us by being born poor, anonymous, and helpless as a newborn at Bethlehem. The God Man Jesus, our brother, ministered, taught, healed, and emptied himself for our sake by dying at Calvary out of love for you. Not the deserving, “perfect” you. He gave his all for who you really are, warts and all.
The Nebraska-born novelist Willa Cather struggled most of her career. She was a country girl trying to write stories about New York high society. Everything changed, Cather said, when she quit admiring and began remembering.
She quit admiring the rich and famous and began remembering her hardscrabble, prairie farm childhood. By remembering and writing about that her books that are still loved and read today.
We should take a page from her book: Quit admiring the “perfect” family next door. There are no perfect families. There are only human families. So, quit comparing and despairing. And begin remembering: Who are you? You are a child of God. What makes you a child of God? God’s love, which we cannot earn or lose, because it simply and always given to you as sheer gift. And when we, the human family, rebelled, sold our birthright, and divorced ourselves from God, God just kept loving us. Christ is the proof and perfection of that love. For God so loved the world — this dying world and dysfunctional humanity — that God gave his only Son whose life, light, and love changes everything. Who was crucified, dead, and buried — and who is alive today to love you into life.
If we will remember that, embrace that, live that, then that is salvation. Healing comes. Hope arrives. And a new day — called Easter — begins to dawn, changing the arc of history and the course of your life toward wholeness, blessing, and peace.
Now, God is not going to “miracle” you into perfection. What God is going to do is love you into life. So your wounds can heal. So your pain is transformed toward peace. It takes time. And as God gives help, we have to give effort — doing our best to receive what God gives us by taking good care of those blessings and ourselves. As we do, we discover that eternal life is not something you only get when you get to heaven. Eternal life is the joy, peace, and love you can have and live right now.
Eternal life happens — you live it and it blesses you — when you bury the hatchet and forgive others — and yourself. When you live a life not addicted to acquisition, but a life anchored in compassion. When you give up the impossible goal of being magazine cover perfect and begin living simply and humbly the grace God is giving you today. God says: My strength is made perfect in weakness. My beauty shall arise despite and through your trauma. My blessing shall transform your crisis, divorce, firing, bankruptcy, nervous breakdown — your suffering. I know what it is like to suffer. I know what it is like to die. And I know what it is like to rise. I know the way out of hell. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Turn to me and together we shall live.
So, shun perfection — whatever that is — and turn toward Christ. Cast your burden on him and he will sustain you. Walk with him and he will transform you. He loves you. Always has. Always will.