When Stuff Is Scary
Is this rude to admit? Hope’s house scared me.
Hope was moving. She needed help packing up her 3-bedroom house, where she’d raised her family, to move to a small condo in Tennessee where she would live alone.
But there was a huge roadblock:
tons of stuff.
In the living room we stepped over clothes. Empty boxes. Picture frames. Food wrappers. A mattress was in the middle of the floor. Why? Because she had no more space in her bedroom. The piles were too high.
I was overwhelmed. I walked to the son’s bedroom, who’d moved out months ago, thinking it’d be easier. It wasn’t. His suits, his school notes, his collections were still crammed in every available space.
Jeff brought me a box and said, “Don’t think. Just fill.” (He knows my tendency to freeze up amongst clutter.)
Let It Go?
We asked Hope about donations. Could we bag up outgrown clothes and donate them to a thrift store or to Manna House?
Hope said no. She wasn’t opposed to giving them away (she had a big heart, I could tell), but she wanted it to be personal. She wanted to see the faces of recipients. Until then, she’d keep everything to herself, not risking their misuse from others.
I understand that. It’s hard for me to let go of my stuff, too.
- What if I’ll want it later?
- What if my kids might need it?
- Or my yet unborn grandkids?
Until I picture a face of someone who needs it now.
See the Face
I imagine an Hispanic mother sifting through the grocery carts of clothes at Manna House. She picks up a jacket I put there. I can see a needy man asking for a shirt to wear to a new job. He gets one donated from Jeff’s closet. From the closets of homes across our city.
Jesus saw the faces.
So he poured himself, the Spirit of Logos, into flesh, into something that could be seen, felt, heard. And for 33 years he wore it well.
But then took it off.
Our Turn in His Flesh
He moved out of his flesh and into ours.
He’s willed his feet, his hands, his words to us to wear for him.
He sees our faces, imagines our future actions, purposes our giving in his name, even knowing we’ll misuse the gift or forget to use it altogether at times.
Now is our turn.
Because the Word is still flesh.
This flesh is to be worn well until it’s worn out.
Back at Hope’s, I finally gave up packing and just listened to her instead. She had a story behind every item she was hoarding and she needed someone to hear it. I kept her in the kitchen so Jeff could pack elsewhere without interruptions.
When we left a few hours later, I could see little difference. Yes, there were now more boxes taped and labeled, but there was so much more to go. It looked hopeless.
I later heard Hope got moved. She’d rented storage buildings to house her extras—Christmas decorations, coffee mugs, musical instruments, novels, boots. All in boxes. Not being used. Not being fleshed out.
The Word became flesh to be worn.
Put him on. Live him out. Wear him well.
Never lose hope.
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How are you wearing his flesh this Christmas? Please share in the comments.
revised from the archives
- More Presents? Or More Presence?
- A Multisensory Devotional – Ordering Our Affections: Advent