I bundled up and traipsed outside this morning to take some photos of the snow. We got a fair bit last night in this Iowa place, and I had to show the people I love from my Southern home proof of how it is here. And I wanted to play, too. I am the woman who grew up largely in the South and made my adult home in the South for several years, with several years in the North tucked in here and there. Enough years that I should hate the snow, but I don’t. In my usual awe and wonder about Northern winters, I felt the urge to make a snow angel this morning.
So I did. It was still quite dark outside and thus, no one was witness to my wild. I laid down and made my snow angel, and then I laid there a minute more to express my gratefulness to the Lord and to ponder.
We talk, we sing, we wax poetic about being washed whiter than snow. I’ve long loved that imagery because my redemption was a hard-fought battle and the scars I (and others) carved on this skin are deep. To be washed whiter than snow and to find the freedom in that was, and is still, a wildly incredible gift. Perhaps that is why I have a sincere appreciation for snow. A reminder of what the Lord has done, can do, and is doing.
I once heard the term, “bleached back to sanity.” It was in reference to bed sheets, how once they are bleached and given a thorough scrubbing then they are usable again. In this redemption story of mine, I used to think that is how a heart must be presented to the Lord. Scrubbed, spotless, bleached back to sanity. I used to think that it is only then that He can use us, redeem us, LOVE us.
Now, of course, I know this to be false. The Lord doesn’t want us bleached before He will use us, consider us, think on us, LOVE us. He takes our messes, our tiredness, our pain, our dark spaces, our deep ruts, our disobedience, our garbage. All of it. Every little thing. He breathes restoration into those caves in our hearts where no one dares wander. He washes us whiter than snow with His blood and His grace and His love. And He lets us wallow there, play there, make snow angels there, and breathe deep sighs of relief and soul gratitude in His grace that is more refreshing than new snow and more pure than any cleansing and binding up and healing that we could manage on our own.
And then….And then….He calls us to love as we have been loved. To love not looking for hearts bleached back to sanity, but for unscrubbed fellow travelers. To be gracious not to the spotless, but to the dirty, to the ones with hearts as calloused as their hands, to those without voices, to those wrapped tightly in cloaks of their insecurities and their shame. To speak life into dusty lungs and to whisper in word and deed that being bleached is not a requirement to approaching the throne of grace.
Because deep down, we all tumble towards grace as piles of mess and mistake.