I've lived most of the past six months dirty. Sanity runs first thing in the humid NC mornings, all hands on deck virtual schooling, baseball workouts/games with all three kids and afternoon walks with Max, the dog...it has just made most sense to stay dirty. My youngest has even commented that I smell like sweat. 2020 perfume line?
A lot of my childhood was spent being dirty. We lived on a nineteen acre farm with cows, horses, ducks (sometimes when the foxes didn't get them), cats and a dog. The pasture had an enormous hill just beyond the fence line separating the flat back yard from the home of the farm animals. I was around seven with my younger sibs being five and three when this hill (looked a lot like a mountain to me at that age) morphed into a better amusement park ride than I'd ever been on.
The hill's grass needed replanting after a re-routing of the farm's water system. The hill was covered with naked dirt begging for rain or a water hosing so it could be transformed into a mud slide (again - I had a seven year old imagination). I honestly cannot remember if it was a rain storm or sprinklers that made that day dream a reality. I also can't remember what prompted me to sit on my rear and see that muddy hill as an adventure just waiting for me to experience. Experience it, I sure did.
My sister, brother and I spent the next several hours taking turns sliding down that mudslide and had the absolute time of our lives. My parents laughed, encouraged and took pictures to document it. By the end of that homemade amusement park attraction, we were all three covered from head to toe with mud - hair, beneath our finger and toenails, behind our ears...what a total mess. We were dirty.
That's how I lived a lot of my childhood. Outside in the open, dirty, catching bugs, building tree houses, going on self-guided tours throughout the nineteen acres without a fear or care in the world. What I would give for my children to live right now, sliding through the summer of 2020 like a boss on a trash bag sled down a mountain of mud. Getting dirty and loving it.
Even living my mom life dirty and sweaty cannot blanch out the disgusting malodorous grime that has infiltrated our country. I don't watch the news, I Google search "Good News" and have largely decided to "aim small" (in the words of Mel Gibson). It is not because I don't care or don't want to be informed, it is that I do not trust our corrupt news sources. I have a very few who I do trust and do keep up with current events - don't worry, I plan to vote. I have been heard saying many times during this pandemic and time of social unrest, "I have a lot of fight in me, but I am not using it for ___ - fill in the blank if it isn't my kids.
My fight is for my three kids right now. They are experiencing as children what is excessively difficult for adults. Teaching them about the pandemic and about how we treat other people, no matter their color, involves a lot of getting dirty in a different way. Trying to choke back tears of my own disappointment in humankind and present a constructive calm paragraph or two to my kids means having to acknowledge that our country is broken. There is not enough soap in the world to clean up the mess going on right now.
This is where my faith comes in and I believe is the answer to the 2020 mud slide. How does Jesus invite us to experience Him? He invites us dirty. All of us. And that is what we are. This type of dirty looks like wanting our own way/recognition/rights, slandering others, harboring bitterness, hurling insults, judging without even knowing other people...sound familiar? We are in need of rescue from ourselves and from the influence of the evil one.
Jesus did not see color/race/religion. He saw hearts. And still does. He did not discriminate, politicize, shy away from truth or sugar coat the hard lessons. He was humble, kind, generous, loving. He was also honest. Boy could we use some good ole' fashioned honesty right now. I digress...
Let's also take into account how very dirty HE was. His feet covered with dirt, mud, gravel - whatever else sandals didn't protect his feet from. And not just His feet - his whole body. Have you seen the clothes from His time? I am certain he wreaked of sweat - as though He was fully God, He was also fully stinky human. Not only did He come to save the dirty, He himself was dirty. His dirty was evidence of doing the hard work of going where no one else would go, saying things no one else would say and doing the hard work of being present, being real and being unafraid of persecution for it.
There may not be enough soap to clean up the mess we have going on right now in this country. But - let's let our dirty be the Jesus kind of dirty. Get dirty, people. Enter the hard conversations with people who think differently from you. Admit you don't know it all. Be humble. Be kind. Love like Jesus.
I pray my kids can look back on this time as I do my childhood. Honestly, I don't remember whether I was dirty or not. What I remember is that I watched my parents love all others. I watched them stick up for people who needed it. I watched them fight for me.
The long summer days of playing at the neighborhood park in the woods behind it building forts, hot baseball games with rust stained white pants, backyard whiffle ball, sweaty bike rides to get a delicious treat are a part of 2020 for my kids. Also a part are deep conversations about faith, kindness, love and acceptance of others and what it truly looks like to forgive those who hurt us, embrace those who are different that us and stand up for what is right.
Yep - my fight right now is reserved for my kids. And in doing that, I do pray that they will take to the future what my parents taught me. "Aim small, miss small; aim big, miss big." Right now, I want to get dirty like Jesus and teach my kids to do the same. If you want to hang with us, I assure you, we will stink. :)