The dog days of summer are here. It’s been so wet and sticky outside that we’ve had to move happy hour indoors the past few days. When I get up in the morning, the windows are blind with condensation and I can’t see out for their weeping. It’s been making my bones hurt a little, slowing me down.
This morning I peered in close at the dewdrops on the panes of our back door, trying to turn myself into water. I’m a back door kind of girl. I’m more comfortable entering unseen. I call my patients Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so. I call the docs I work with Dr. so-and-so. Respect has to start somewhere, seems like a name is a good place. I think hard work is a cleansing thing. I like to get my hands dirty. I believe in smiling when my eyes meet yours. I don’t like calling attention to myself. I’ve been told most of my life that there is nothing special about me worth calling attention to. If you try to tell me otherwise I will both like you too much and then run away from you.
I might be too old to change that about myself, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.
Yesterday, I had a long talk with one of my boys about stepping out of his comfort zone. We are finishing up the first week of school and it looks like he’s going to be stuck in a class he doesn’t like. It’s a subject that he’s not very good at and he is afraid of being embarrassed in front of his peers.
I encouraged him to embrace his weakness, laugh about it, make it a bridge to connect with others.
“If you think I’m a person who would ever like being laughed at, then you don’t know me at all,” he said. “You don’t understand how school works.”
But I do understand how it feels to stand on the precipice of a place of discomfort, longing to go forward but letting fear hold me back. So many times I’ve regretted anchoring myself to the safe and unseen.
This morning I read Matthew 13:33.
He spoke another parable to them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.’
In the commentary, William Barclay says, “It is sometimes said that the lesson of this parable is that the kingdom works unseen. We cannot see the leaven working in the dough, any more than we can see a flower growing; but the work of the leaven is always going on. Just so, it is said, we cannot see the work of the kingdom, but always the kingdom is working and drawing individuals and the world nearer and nearer to God.”
When I read this, I thought, “Yes. This is my life. A little piece of leaven, folded into the dough of this world. Unseen. But working. Always working.”
And though I realized the truth of this and found it a bit encouraging, it made me a little sad. Unseen. That’s how I’ve been feeling, I guess.
Then I read on.
“But it has sometimes been said,” Barclay goes on to say, “ … that the lesson of the parable is the very opposite of this, and that, so far from being unseen, the working of the kingdom can be plainly seen. The working of the leaven is plain for all to see. Put the leaven into the dough, and the leaven changes the dough from a passive lump into a seething, bubbling, heaving mass…”
And this, too, spoke to a place inside of me. Haven’t I felt the bubbling leaven rise up in me? Making me into something more than I was before?
Both of these illustrations are true. There are times when life calls me to work unseen, quietly trusting the work of folding the leaven into hidden places will one day yield a feast. These are the days I am water–common as the creek down the street. Then there are the days when I called to step over that precipice—because Jesus wants to turn me into wine. These are the hardest days for me. I’m still learning how to best live into that new place.
Trusting in the One who always sees me, no matter how deeply I try to hide myself away.