I hate doing dishes.
I truly believe one of the best gifts to the world was the dishwasher. I don’t mind taking out the trash, vacuuming our floors, even laundry isn’t awful. However, the idea of picking up plates that holds people’s unfinished food is disturbing. Reaching below the surface of dirty sink water in search of silverware to clean and finding your fingers grabbing ahold of something chunky and slimy is gag-worthy.
Kaitlin and I were lucky enough to have a dishwasher in our first apartment. It was glorious. I had never used one before, so the idea of dodging food gunk getting under my fingernails was enough to make me want to kiss the apartment owners.
On one particular day, I was given the responsibility of putting the dishes into our dishwasher and letting it run. I never minded this. I remember we had a busy day scheduled with errands, hangouts, and church stuff. I had waited to the very last minute to do my one chore when Kaitlin asked if I had started the dishwasher. I said yes and sprinted to the kitchen, threw the dishes in, and went to grab the little dish detergent bar that magically made our dishes look beautiful again. It was too easy. However, we were out of those little dish blocks.
Kaitlin was standing at the door waiting for me and I couldn’t be the bearer of bad news, so I searched frantically through our cabinets, hoping a leftover bar would be waiting for me to find.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, I found a half-empty bottle of Dawn Dish Detergent. Without thinking, I grabbed the bottle, gave a silent cheer of victory, and poured a large amount of the detergent into the dishwasher. I checked the settings and pushed start as we walked out the door. I felt like a hero.
Until I didn’t.
We had a successful day adulting and being with friends. We wearily arrived home ready to turn on Netflix and binge-watch a show or three. I made my way to our living room, grabbed a blanket, and started searching for a show. Kaitlin went to the kitchen to grab some snacks. That’s when it happened.
There are certain things in marriage that you just know. I’m not sure if it’s telepathy or time spent together, but Kaitlin can say my name a certain way and I know she is saying a lot more. I sat there for a moment hoping that whatever it was would go away on its own. Instead, I heard my name again. I got up and as I approached the kitchen I noticed my feet were starting to get wet.
As I turned the corner I found Kaitlin looking at me with a supporting grin on her face, masking her diabolical rage. In the kitchen was nothing but piles and piles of soap bubbles. You would have thought we were having a late-night foam party. I think I made a joke like that, but it wasn’t funny. At this point, I started to blame the dishwasher, I cursed the manufacturer, and did everything possible to get the attention away from me. It didn’t work. She asked me one simple question, “What soap did you use?”
I smiled. I had used dish soap. I knew that wasn’t the problem, so I put my hands on my hips and told her confidently, “Dawn DISH Soap.” She wasn’t as excited as I was about this solution.
Apparently, you can’t use large amounts of that kind of soap in a dishwasher. Who knew? Not me.
It was a disaster. Everything was wet and basically ruined. I was so pissed over this new information on dish soap. It was also ironic that something that was meant to be helpful led to such a mess.
That something meant to clean and help can cause so much damage.
A lot of times I feel like this.
I have this deep belief inside of me that I was meant to do something great in this world. I may not know what it is, but there’s always a faint feeling of purpose in me and I know it will make people better and stronger. That’s why I became a Pastor. I wanted to make people better and show them that they had a purpose as well. I wanted to help. I wanted to make things better.
The problem is I’m usually a mess. I cause problems. Things never go as I want them to. I’m the human version of the dish catastrophe of 2013. I know I’m meant for good, but I tend to cause a lot of problems.
What’s the deal?
The Bible tells us that we were made in the Image of God. It’s right there at the beginning of it in Genesis chapter one. Go look if you don’t believe me. If you grew up in church then I’m sure you’ve heard a message or two on this topic.
It’s cliché, but it’s true.
You were created in the image of God. You carry something dramatically different than the rest of creation. Everything God made was good, but we are exceptional. It’s with this divine fingerprint that we have the capacity to do remarkable things in our lives. I believe it’s the tiny voice in me I mentioned earlier.
This gifted divinity gives you the ability to create, grow, build, and redeem.
It’s actually beautiful because it makes you beautiful.
No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you carry the mark of Divinity. You are God’s masterpiece. It’s the guarantee that no matter where you find yourself, it’s not over for you. I love this truth.
Here’s the thing.
If my life is "special" and made by God. If I’m marked with this miraculous divinity, then why does life seem so dirty? Why does so much crap happen?
Maybe you have said or experienced one of these things recently.
My marriage is failing.
I’m drowning in debt.
I just lost my mom.
My friends have abandoned me.
My dad is sick and not getting better.
I lost the baby.
I was burned by the church I loved.
I feel like a waste of space. I don’t know why I’m here.
I was just fired from my job and have no idea what’s next.
We can all agree that life is unpredictable and very rarely for our benefit. It’s naive and ignorant for people to preach this underlying message that life is easy. I do believe that God works all things together for good, but when you are drowning in failure, depression, and uncertainty, it’s not helpful.
If you are someone who says that to people, stop it!
What I look for in these moments is understanding. I want to know why it’s happening. I need a reason for the mess.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why your marriage is over and I can’t explain the reason you lost a loved one so suddenly, but I can share something that’s helped bring understanding to why life is so jacked up.
We talked earlier about God making us! He gave us a beautiful piece of himself to us. However, that wasn’t the only ingredient to our being.
The Bible shows us that along with God’s image, we were created out of….
Pure glacier water that’s never touched the atmosphere?
Yep. Out of everything in the world, God chose dirt.
If this is brand new information to you, then I’m sure you are stunned. If you knew, this and rolled your eyes, then take a moment with me, and let’s unpack this a little.
God could have made us out of anything. His first ingredient is divinity. He could have stopped there. He’s God. He didn’t need anything else. However, he felt the need to add something. I would have chosen something far more exciting, Wouldn’t you?
If the substance determines the significance, then let’s agree. This isn’t a great choice.
Dirt is nasty, gross, and well….dirty!
We bathe to remove it.
We hop over it when it puddles up on the ground.
We get it out from under our fingernails.
We avoid it.
Because it’s dirt and it’s messy. Yet, that’s you and me.
I’m a dirtbag.
You’re a dirtbag.
Your mom’s a dirtbag.
I think from the very beginning God was giving us a hint that our lives were going to be messy. He was showing us that life will not be clean and predictable, but messy and chaotic.
Divinity and Dirt.
I love these two ingredients because it tells me two things:
First, I can live my life knowing things aren’t going to go smoothly. It’s a part of who we are as people. I’m going to make mistakes. My friends are going to make mistakes. Things are going to go to hell and that’s just the way it is. This doesn’t make it easy, but it does bring understanding.
The second thing is more helpful. No matter how messy life gets, I can come out of it for the better. It’s in the mess that I can find seeds of new life. I can create a new story. I can build a stronger foundation. The Divinity in you and me give us endless possibilities to overcome challenges and create in the midst of incredible loss.
The mess will always be a precursor to maturity and growth. God gave us two ingredients that work hand in hand to allow us to take the best and worst of life and do something remarkable with it.
Whatever mess you are facing, don’t give up. There’s something divine in you that can handle your dirt. There’s a beautiful life waiting for you. Something may have died recently, but something new awaits.
Listen to this,
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
It’s in the wilderness, the wasteland, the dirt where new things are found.