Lately, most likely due to the parched land of the television desert known as “late summer viewing,” we had stumbled across voluminous repeats of a show called “The Middle.”
[I know, some of you are leaning snobbish right now because you eschew the pedestrian land of television (or, at least, you say you do). That’s fine…I’ve been called worse (than pedestrian, I mean).]
The show’s about a middle (who knew?) American family named Heck (as in “what the?”)–and it unmasks a collection of decidedly not-put-together reverse caricatures of the perfect family.
The Hecks are the anti-Cleavers, the non-Huxtables of yesteryear. Nor are they the realistically flawed but earnest Bravermans of current “Parenthood” fame. And they are certainly not the cartoonish kids-are-always-smarter-than-the-adults small (and large) screen family portraits painted by many of today’s screen writers. The Hecks are flawed, flawed, earnestly & deeply flawed people…both individually and as a family unit.
They love each other in a nearly impossible to predict, frayed edges, trying too hard in a not-very-hard kind of oblique attempt at family success. Messes abound: personally and corporately…in their lives and in their environs. They survive but nobody knows how. They’ll never, ever thrive. And yet they somehow do…thrive, that is.
Another blog post would be required to completely profile this whacky five-some and give them all the attention they deserve. But, I have to confess, their antics on some of the shows have made me laugh at the number 10 belly pain level (dripping tears and all).
Amongst this bunch is Sue…the middler of the Heck progeny. Sue is a forgettable non-person, invisible to most of the world, most of the time. Her teachers do not know she is in their classes. Her achingly embarrassing moments (and there are oh so many) are hardly ever recognizable as hers because the other kids in the school have no clue about Sue…at all…in any context.
Sue’s main dream has been to be picked…for something…for anything. She has been on a quest to “make” the (a, any, please just one) team…club…committee…just something…please. It is simultaneously gruesome and darkly hilarious to watch. Well, mostly gruesome in a you-can-never-turn-away-from-the-train (car, bicycle, moped, you get the picture) wreck kind of way.
Sue had never been chosen for anything; she worked in rejection as her medium like some painters wallow in oils. She was masterful at not mastering, nor even being able to muster, for anything. Until, that is, her Mom (Frankie) MADE the school principal declare at least one sport a “No Cut” team.
But Sue, being Sue, nearly didn’t make the “no cut” cross country team because she almost didn’t make the requisite five-lap track requirement. She dragged herself across the finish line (after first stopping at the “not finished” line), crawling on the track through a thunderstorm and pelting rain. Sue, God bless her, who never gets picked for anything, by anyone, ever, was finally on the receiving end of a tossed team t-shirt from the Cross Country Coach. YEAH!
Some of you may have never known rejection…the end of a relationship, the termination of a job, the thin envelope or terse email from the college, the “we’ve found someone more suited for the job.” Good for you; the aura of self-sufficiency is firmly in place. Good for you. Really, I mean it: good for you.
I have had rejection recently, the particular category is not important. You’d think at my age I’d have established some resilient baseline to help me navigate the jagged edges of the word, “no.” Such a small word; such power packed into its tiny-lettered twosome; it’s a short-hilted, verbal dagger that slices through to the heart. “No–not you.”
Of course, as we mature as persons, we need to learn to hear a certain kind of “no.” We have to learn to damper the power of destructive whims and capriciousness, not to mention selfishness. This is also not the other “no”–the one that believers need to embrace–the “no” to sin that we all need to grapple with as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
But the “no” of rejection…a Sue kind of “no” is neither of those. It’s the “no” that drains our spirits and rattles our minds and stifles the sense of unique createdness to which the Scriptures testify. And sometimes it seems as if “no” is the only word that the whole world knows.
But there is another word; a word that flows from the center of a deeply loving and ever present Savior. It is the word, “Yes.” This is the word of secure connection; this is the word of everlasting and lavish love; this is the word that looks past our many “tryouts” and “cuts” and “fails”; this is the word that transcends our plethora of personal “no’s” and reaches into the place deep inside us where we need to hear, “Yes.” This is the word from Jesus. This is the cure for the “no’s”—this is the word I need to hear; perhaps this is the word you need to hear.
“I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20a).
© All rights reserved. Scripture quotations from the NIV.