I have to write about something.
How many blog posts have started out that way? This is my heart’s cry: write, write, write.
And this is going to be messy because it’s more of a jot than well-planned thesis. But I do have a point, so just hang on. We’ll get there eventually.
I can’t be Mary Poppins.
Here is what I don’t mean: I do not mean that I can’t have my life “together”. I don’t mean that I am not capable of managing my days or the days of my littles. I’m not adverse to a little sarcasm when appropriate. I don’t mean that I can’t have a magic carpet bag or a lovely hat. I certainly have no issue with owning an umbrella that can fly me to the rooftop of a family in need.
Here is what I do mean: There is a lure in that phrase “practically perfect in every way” (this is how Mary Poppins and her magic measuring tape describe her). Do you know what a lure is? I’m not a fisherman but knowing exactly what a “lure” is seems beneficial here. A lure is something that looks pretty (and tasty!) but hidden inside is the means by which one is caught, and eventually killed. It looks oh-so-nice to be “practically perfect”. I look at Mary Poppins and my eyes are caught by her unflappable, compassionate (but also no-nonsense), purposeful demeanor. I desire that for myself. I want to be industrious and resourceful and strong.
I want these things because I don’t want to need anybody.
Mary Poppins doesn’t need anybody. That is the snare for me. There is not a thing wrong with perfection; God calls us to be perfect as He is perfect (Matt 5:48, 1 Peter 1:15). In my current culture, I see a bit too much of a pendulum swing against the “plastic” idea of perfection that we’ve started to give hearty approval to laziness and incompetence. We talk about the Proverbs 31 woman as if “getting up before dawn” has to mean something other than getting up before dawn, because — well, doesn’t God want us to be well-rested?
Oh boy I’m getting off topic.
My point is, the lure of Mary Poppins isn’t the perfection; it’s the self-sufficiency. And anybody who has walked with God more than a second knows that self-sufficiency is the oldest, ugliest sin. Eve wasn’t tempted to go off and murder anybody or even talk bad about her husband (what kind of woman is this!!); she was tempted by the thought that she could be like God, knowing good and evil. There are many ways in which we are called to be like our Creator, but clear and definite ways in which He alone is to be — omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign . . . self-sufficient.
When I attempt to be like God in His self-sufficiency, I become a traitor. God is not threatened by my attempts to usurp His throne, but those attempts are not winked at or brushed off. Like when our child decides he’s a big boy and can cook on the stove when he can’t even see over it, so am I when I try to do things in my own strength. God will not stand for this, not because He is threatened, but because He knows what danger awaits me.
Mary Poppins would have me believing that I can do it all, do it well, and have only my own reflection to argue with me. The truth is, I need God. I need Him desperately. And in resting, trusting, believing, and walking with Him I find far greater purpose and meaning than I could ever find in years of self-improvement and progress and productivity. To Him be the glory. Amen.