Twisted

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Time-honored household debates include how to load the dishwasher, how the toilet paper roll should spin, and how to squeeze the toothpaste tube. While my husband Ben and I don’t have these specific debates, I’m about to take up the toothpaste tube squeezing issue with my sons. Some people methodically squeeze from the bottom. Others squeeze from the top or the middle. My boys have come up with a new technique that involves twisting the tube as if they’re wringing water out of a sopping wet towel. I applaud their efforts to get the last drops of toothpaste out of the tubes, but all that remained were mangled shells. 

Sometimes, our lives may feel twisted. Circumstances that may be out of our control leave us feeling depleted. Our expectations may be dashed. The world may not look like anything we planned or hoped for. Even if everything looks neat and tidy on the outside, our insides may, in fact, feel twisted. We may be confused or tapped out emotionally and mentally. We may feel as though our internal and/or our external situations are so misshapen that there’s no way to be whole again.

I’m taking an online Theology course through Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary this semester. Last week, our reading and discussion were about Jesus’ humanity and divinity. I was flummoxed because I’d never heard some of the theories, and I didn’t know what to think anymore. My brain was twisted into knots, and my frustration poured out of me on paper and via Zoom. Thankfully, Professor Cynthia L. Rigby was gracious and supportive in the face of my confusion. I still don’t know if I understand the scope of Jesus’ humanity and divinity, but Professor Rigby is always asking “so what”? What does our rumination on theological topics mean for our everyday lives? I was thinking about the issue days after our discussion when it occurred to me, the “so what” is that Jesus knows how hard life is. He knows how we as human beings feel when we are wound so tight, we physically ache, cry buckets of tears, and can’t think straight. When we are twisted and have nothing left to offer.

Jesus experienced a twisted situation in his hometown when he was teaching in the synagogue. The people who’d always known Jesus’ family were offended that Jesus talked with such authority. “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son?” (Mark 6:3-6). They noted that they knew all his brothers and sisters. To paraphrase, they asked, “who does Jesus think he is now?” Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” Jesus “could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Jesus experienced the rejection and ridicule of people he’d known his whole life, so Jesus understands how it feels to be hurt when things don’t go as planned. 

The “so what” is Jesus knows what it means to be human and experience pain. We can take refuge in Jesus’ love for us and believe that he will always be with us even when life feels twisted. 

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