She says the word ‘just’ and I cringe.
Something about that word, the way it frustrates and deceives, never quite used as intended, never fully revealing the truth.
She says, “Mom, you can just….” and “how about we just….” and, in her innocence, she believes the lie.
That this is easy.
I explain to her that despite the Pinterest headings on the pictures that promise “Simple,” “Easy,” DIY for beginners,” “Quick,” and “Painless….” her mom is in fact craft handicapped.
In fact, these projects always seem to involve more effort, mistakes, mess, physical trauma, and failure than the pictures and the headings make you believe.
Dear Pinterest, may I suggest a glossary of terms for non-crafty folks like myself? Perhaps a translation tool? Or a handy dandy guide to assessing your actual ability to reproduce the adorable projects people post?
Maybe a “Warning Label?”
“5 Easy steps..”: Each step really includes 5 other sub-steps not included in the instructions because the writer assumed you’d be craft-smart enough to know without being told or shown.
“Simple….”: This project is designed for people far more artistic than yourself. For them, it is indeed “simple.” For you, it will not be. Consider yourself warned.
“For beginners…”: These instructions are written by people who are not beginners and who have forgotten how ‘beginner’ Beginners really are. Sure, it’s easy for them; they’ve been whipping out afghans, dresses, pillow cases, cakes, and wreaths for years. You, however, are truly a beginner, still apt to burn your fingers with the glue gun and stab at your fingertips with a sewing needle.
And my favorite:
“Just”: “Just” implies that the steps you’ll be given are simple, a snap, easy as 1-2-3. But in reality, the instructions are long and involved, utterly confusing and complicated, and at some point will not work the way they are pictured or portrayed.
It’s not just the pitfall of arts and crafts.
It’s faith, too.
We forget sometimes that faith is hard.
We say, “just believe,” “just trust God,” “just hold on to the promises,” “just wait on Him,” “just keep praying….”
“Just,” that’s how we oversimplify when really it’s desperately difficult.
And rather than wade in waste deep to the muck and mire of messy faith, we stand on the shore and shout out pat phrases and cliches like ineffective life preservers.
Here’s what’s true:
Some days we’re going to mess up.
Sometimes God’s provision is hard to see, when the bills are crushing in and it’s one broken thing, one unexpected expense, one medical crisis after another after another.
Sometimes you can sit all day at that kitchen table with your Bible and journal, praying desperately for direction and still He remains silent for a season.
Some mornings you wake up believing implicitly that God has got this whole massive world tucked into the palm of His capable hands only to feel the earthquake threaten your faith foundation just ten minutes into the day after one tragic phone call or one message of hurt, pain, fear, and need.
Some days you want to give up because this calling is too hard and you can’t even see the tiniest bit of purpose or hope or sign that all this sacrifice is worth it.
This isn’t “Simple,” “5 Easy Steps,” “Just” faith.
This is real life faith.
This is where we’ve exhausted all of the belief we have and the circumstances haven’t changed, so we bring it to Jesus because we don’t even know where else to go.
And like the father in Mark 9, we pray:
“if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”” (Verse 22, NASB).
God, if You can help me…
That’s what the father prayed, and Jesus reminded him: All things are possible to him who believes (verse 23).
Surely the desperate dad had heard the promise before. He could have nodded his head complacently and pretended to “just believe” and “just have faith.”
Instead, he confessed the truth to Jesus: “I do believe; help my unbelief” (verse 24).
I believe. And yet, sometimes, Lord, it’s hard to believe. If life were easy, faith would be easy. But life isn’t and faith is hard.
That’s the truth.
This father prayed for mercy because he was human. He doubted and struggled.
We confess this, too, and this is the assurance we receive:
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV).
Dust. That’s what we are: Small and dependent, near-sighted and earth-bound.
Have mercy on us, God. Help our unbelief.
That’s what we pray when life isn’t “simple” or “easy” or “just.”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King