This week was a new chapter in our house. We moved our baby and toddler into the same room. They will be sharing for the foreseeable future, carving out their own spaces to cover in teddies and dribble, waking each other up at night, learning to live in close quarters. With their different needs and perspectives, they will annoy each other, throw nasty words, fight. But they will also enjoy each other, get to know each other better, and love each other. I can already see it.
That’s the way we work, isn’t it? We wrestle with those in our space. And so often we are quick to paint them as the other, the one in the wrong. If we zoom out, we see it all around us.
I am so discouraged by the way society has been bluntly divided into two camps, those who are “progressive” and those who are “conservative”, with very little room for open debate or nuance.
I often find myself caught in no-mans-land, unable to align with the black-and-white (and often harsh) proclamations of either side as they paint the other as bad. And in the end, I feel like there is a big finger sticking out of my chest pointing at everyone else as “the problem”. And then I know there is a real problem in my own heart. Because wrestling is ok (Jacob famously had a tussle with God himself), but it should result in increased love for each other. Like siblings sharing a room. Wrestling, but ultimately learning to love, not to hate.
Part of the move this week was establishing a home office. To set a good backdrop for all the zoom calls, we bought a new flat-pack bookshelf online. It was pine; cheap and cheerful. As we screwed the shelves together, you could hear the squeaking and splintering as we forced the wood into shape.
I recently heard sin being described as going against the grain of love.
If I were to run my hand against the grain of that bookshelf, I would have tiny wooden daggers puncturing my skin. It would hurt, maybe draw blood. I would need help from someone with tweezers and a good lamp to pick them out.
God, who is love personified, has created us in his image. In other words, we are created to love and be loved. Jesus commanded us to love one another. And so when we do not love, we go against the grain of what we are created for. The result hurts us and others. The harder part is allowing the steady hand of God to gently remove the splinters, and guide us to walk with the grain. Even as we wrestle, may we never stop learning to love.