I feel as though I should have something very profound to say. Something meaningful, something that will encourage you to the depths of your being.
And I’m going to tell you about how my sister tried to pick my nose.
First, you probably need to know that my sister, Joy, had a near-fatal drowning accident years ago while taking a group of students on a white water rafting trip on spring break in Costa Rica. She was a Spanish teacher helping broaden the minds of high schoolers. She was independent, she was beautiful, and she was witty. I don’t tell you this to make you sad, I tell you this so that you will understand that the lives we planned for ourselves are not the lives we are leading.
Joy now has no filter. Any of you who care for or know people with different cognitive issues probably relate to this. Nothing is off-limits and anything that passes through her mind will probably come out of her mouth. Remember how I said she was witty? She still is, though in a different way. If you follow me on FaceBook, you have likely laughed at one of our funny conversations, her literal interpretation of everything makes my life, as her caregiver, interesting.
I’m so glad we can laugh together. And lately, with my debilitating migraines getting worse, I have needed to laugh.
In lacking a filter, Joy also struggles with seeing things that are out of place. Thus, the nose-picking. I have been sitting in church before when I can suddenly FEEL something coming. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her coming, her pink tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth as she concentrates and edges closer while the pastor preaches on the love of Christ. Perhaps I just have a smudge on me or — oh no! Is it a booger?? At church?! She’s coming closer and I must not make eye contact or she’ll start snort-laughing!
And it hits me, this is how Joy shows me she loves me. She is trying to fix me. (She doesn’t know how hopeless the cause is!) If she didn’t love me, she wouldn’t be working so hard to help me. So, strangely, her picking lint off my hiney or picking my nose is actually love.
Christ’s love is sometimes difficult to take, also. Sometimes it’s hard to spot. Like I said earlier, my migraines have increased in severity the last couple of weeks. I’m having a hard time getting out of the house at all and I’m tempted to despair, to give into depression. But I know better, I know I have to fix my eyes on Christ, he certainly knew what pain and hardship were and He continued forward, with joy of all things! (John 17, Hebrews 12:2)
You and I are loved so fully by God that He will allow us to endure hard things and become disciplined by them so that we will become more like Him. I want to say that I don’t need these lessons, these trials, these hardships, but I can’t say that and also state honestly that I trust God. Hebrews 12:3-17 exhorts you and I to not grow weary, even if we are in the midst of being disciplined. The Greek is actually discussing the development that must occur in order that a person can make right choices. I have to tell you, in theory I want to make right choices, good choices, God-honoring choices. But . . . I don’t want to go through this. I’m sure you know what I mean, you probably have something in your own life that is difficult to endure, even if it is producing God-honoring character.
I want to want to be like Christ, but I don’t want to endure hardship to become more like Him. There, I said it.
But then, I think back to my sister: lovingly, hilariously reaching out to me to fix something because she loves me. I know it’s not the same thing as God reaching out, the analogy breaks down, but God uses funny pictures on this earth to express His love, to show how desperately He cares for us, to remind us of the cross and what it cost Him. I have asked Joy before why she does things like pick lint off of me, and she tells me, “Because I love you.” It is black and white to her, no room for ifs, ands, or buts. In her words and even the action of nose-picking, I can see the love of Christ.
Photo Credit: David Cohen, Mayur Gala, Ryan Whitlow
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 749.