Wednesdays with Words: Sawdust in our Souls

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that my friend Heather and I were reading through Sally Clarkson’s Own You Life a while ago – a year? two years? (she’s since moved her blog!) I don’t really remember. It’s been a while.

I keep looking at Own Your Life and think I should finish it just for the discipline of finishing it.

I put it aside because I was struggling with some of the ideas, not sure I entirely agreed with where Clarkson was going.

But I’ve been listening to her At Home with Sally podcast where they were going through the book and things were sounding more agreeable to me, so I thought maybe I’d give finishing the book a shot.

I took it with me to piano lessons on Monday and was able to read a little despite the beautiful setting and weather.

I was pleasantly surprised with the section on “The Power and Choice of Love.”

Yet as our culture has come to prize efficiency, utilitarian values, competency, and materialism, we have become isolated and alone. We have drifted further from the very foundation of life that sustains us–the need and desire to be loved, accepted as we are, and validated for our own uniqueness. And so we have settled for sawdust in our souls. (page 181, emphasis mine)

Sawdust is what is left when you cut pieces of wood. When you divide and divide and divide to a specific purpose – when we fit a person into a specialized box (a cupcake tin, a cookie cutter, a specific nut or bolt) where their function is so narrowly defined, we leave behind the detrious of what God intended yet we cut and grind away as rubbish.

This is not to say that we don’t leisurely, carefully, painstakingly fit pieces together. Oh, no. There are rough edges to be smoothed. But not, I think, to the point that a progressive, utilitarian world would have us believe. Not to piles of dry sawdust rather than a beautifully polished piece of artistry.

If I could give you only one encouragement in this book, it would be to measure your life by how well you have loved. In the moment that you love well, you are the most like Jesus.

God is much more concerned with your love than with your service. If you truly love HIm, then acts of service will naturally follow. However you can do works of service without loving Him or anyone else. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, such good deeds will only be like a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.

She finishes the section most convictingly:

[Love]’s a choice that you often have to make in the inconvenient moments of life, or when the people in your life are irritating, frustrating, or immature. You must own your choice to allow love–both your own and Christ’s love–to be extended to others through you. (pg 182)

May you and I learn to love in this way. I know I often express love badly toward those closest to me who are irritating, frustrating, and immature – my children and even myself. Learning to stop, breathe, love rather than blow up. That’s the challenge I can take away from this.



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