I am part of a group in which someone asked,
"What do you see as the difference
between playing church and being the church?"
This came from that.
I thought I would share it here.
I guess I would have to say it's the difference between playing house and being a family.
If it's, "Here, you be mommy, and I'll be Daddy, and Susie can be our baby," it's playing house.
But if it's, "Will you marry me?"
And a long miserable labor and birth.
And sleepless nights.
And working out a way of peace even though we don't agree.
And choosing to eat a burnt meal
because your wife doesn't know how to cook, but she's trying.
And cleaning out and packing each others' wounds like a nurse.
And kissing the messy face of your baby.
And getting up and getting a drink because they can't reach the counter.
And taking out the trash.
And helping kids to wipe.
And listening to boring stories that you already heard before.
And being hurt for their benefit.
And being thrown up on.
And having to forgive, because they did it again.
And realizing you were wrong, and saying, 'I'm sorry'.
And being forgiven.
It's letting their pain be your pain.
And rejoicing when they rejoice,
even though you feel like crying in the bathroom for yourself.
It isn't acted out perfectly,
but with practice, you get better at it,
and your husband gets better at it,
and then another newborn comes along, all selfish and squalling,
and you all have to learn all over again
how to be kind and how to teach kindness.
And he grows into a toddler and pulls his sister's hair,
and he has to learn to be kind, and she has to learn to forgive.
And then one day, you see them sharing, and helping, and choosing to love.
And there are love notes from new writers,
and you ignore how they spelled them,
and you don't care that there is no punctuation and no spacing.
It's recognizing progress instead of noting imperfection.
It's sharing blood.
It's the reality of love, instead of the fantasy.
It recognizes value in the most useless members.
They belong to us.
We don't care if they are crippled, if they're old, if they're in diapers.
If they have bad breath and running sores.
They are ours.
We're glad they're with us, because they belong to us.
But when we're playing house, we can do without that,
and just put on our princess clothes and sparkly headbands,
and pick the best looking companions to be there with us,
and the prettiest dolls to be our children.
And let's kick out the ugly little kid with a birthmark and all the bedwetters.