Sugar in the Salt Shaker

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness . . . 
Matthew 5:13
 
“I hate that voice,” she says. “That’s the fake-Emily voice.”
 
It’s already past midnight and she’s regaling me with all my worst detractions, one of which, I’ll own, is an uncanny knack for duplicity . . . It comes to me as easy as the flip of a coin, causing me to forget that most people don’t have two faces.
 
But every pretender knows there will always be someone who sees through your crap, and she’s mine.
 
“It’s just that I love you and I want to know the real Emily,” she says, dredging up the old, familiar fear that there is no ‘real Emily,’ nothing behind all these masks. I’m created by circumstance.
 
No. I’m a peacemaker, I say to myself, it’s in my nature to see both sides of every argument. Is that the same as playing both sides? I just want to be liked. I just want to belong. I don’t want to upset anyone.
 
“The truth sets free,” she insists. And it occurres to me how very upsetting that truth is. How very unlike me. 
 
And this too: she wouldn’t be telling me if she was concerned with whether or not I would like her. My redemption exactly at odds with my mode of operating. Thank God she isn’t me.
 
set you freeYou see at some point something, big or small, tore a hole in me. Something was cut out and the wound labelled with the caveat, “Truth will tear you open.” Interpreted: “You can’t be who you are and be loved.”
 
And who am I? A night light to sooth fearful sleepers?
 
No, “You are the light of the world.”
 

This is how I live my faith, as if Jesus had said “You are the sugar of the earth.”

 
Random acts of kindness. Spreading little bits of sweetness wherever I go. I make sure to thank the lady mopping the floors in the public restroom. I smile at strangers. It’s a rough job but someone’s got to do it. You’re welcome, world.

 
Sugar is popular. Take for example, brownies (first ingredient, sugar): Popular. Salt on the other hand? Sure, we’ve been told that it’s the combination of salt + fat that makes snack foods so addicting, but if you’re ever stuck at a restaurant shaking one of those impossibly finely-holed salt shakers over your food for over half a minute you’ll realize how quickly people begin to look at you like you have a death wish.
 
And it sure feels like a death wish, like a tearing open, to be truthful in some circumstances. If I thought hearing it was hard . . . Can’t we all just be sugar?
 
Salt is so . . . so caustic. It’s used for abrasion. Preservation. Melting ice. Raising the boiling temperature. A little too much and the dish is ruined. Are you sure that’s what you meant, Jesus?
 
Salt, it hurts. If you don’t believe me, shave your legs and then go swimming in the ocean. It hurts. 
 
But it heals. It cleanses. It cures.
 
And so she rubs her truth like salt into my wound, killing the festering bacteria of lies, but leaving the cells undamaged, speeding healing . . . It lays bare the farce of my self-glorifying instead of God-glorifying testimony, my half-truths that have imprisoned me, my sugar-in-the-salt-shaker platitudes, all that Oswald Chambers calls “gentleness and winsomeness without curativeness.”
 
“It is a disadvantage to be salt. Think of the action of salt in a wound
and you realize that. If you get salt into a wound, it hurts, and if God’s children
get among those who are ‘raw’ towards God, their presence hurts.
The man who is wrong with God is like an open wound.”
Oswald Chambers
 
God, our Source, don’t toss us out to be trampled by men, though we have lost our substance. Hew us again from the Rock which we came, that we may preserve, heal, cleanse, and if need be, abrade. For without salt, life cannot be sustained. May we not let the open wounds of the world fester to save face, or the spirit raw towards God heal over, unchanged, and so be sweet in the mouth but bitter in the stomach. Remind us again of the light we are to be, that we may, in love, speak the truth that sets men free. Amen.

One thought on “Sugar in the Salt Shaker

  1. I like it. Thanks for writing Emily it was like a hug. David read this before I did, then read it to me, imagine that.

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