Monday, January 4, 2010


My fingernails.

They're a real problem for me right now.
The fingernail problem is that once I ran out of multivitamins my fingernails all broke off and slivered away into these ugly, chipped, watery, thin vestiges of their former glory. My fingernails are crispy and layered like flimsy, pale croissant dough on the ends of my hands. Just when I think they can break no further and get no shorter, one quick tap on a hard surface proves me wrong.

Their shape can be described as squoval with a shark-tooth edge. And the plain fact of the matter is that they are so broken into so many filaments that every form of dirt and squalor settles in their crusty little nooks and no amount of Gojo or hand cream can wrench the dirt free.

I look down constantly, touch my nails constantly, clean my nails constantly. It's a source of extraordinary consternation every day. I cannot have strong, healthy nails again until I have a strong, healthy bank account again and can finally buy another bottle of magic multivitamins. And here we find our dear antprotagonist in the middle of her despair.

I look down at these nails and they are a symbol of my spiritual life. A symbol of how unclean I have felt lately. Every time I look down on them they've picked up a new piece of dirt and they are perpetually dyed dark blue from the indigo ink of my newer dark jeans. I am constantly picking at them and finding sinks to wash them in, trying to make them white as snow.

Why are they so unwilling to be clean?

It feels out of my control. It feels like no matter how many times I wash them, they'll always be dirty. I'll be the icky street urchin with the dark blue shark-tooth nails. How unfair. How cosmically sad. And yet, part of me says, "Of course."

"Of course my hands are icky. I'm icky. My hands and my skin and my hair and my teeth and my cold feet are all icky. That's why nothing works out in my life. I'm an icky person."

What is that all about?
I think it's time to get an new iPod mix if that's the stuff I've been listening to in my head because I'm not icky. First of all, I take showers just like everyone else. I wash my hands constantly and I put lotion on. Yes my hands are dry and yes my fingernails are going through a crisis, but I AM NOT ICKY!

Secondly, God has come into my life to set things aright and to bring life and healing to every area of my little Oliver Twist world. Starting with my heart, but eventually getting all the way back to my hands when the season calls for it. He loves me.

He loves me.
Even though I don't look pretty today. Even though I've gained weight over Christmas because of those bleepety chocolate crinkle cookies. He loves me even when I'm absurd and when my heart hurts and it shows in the way I act and the things I say. He loves me when I'm tired and cranky. He loves me when I look good and when I don't. When I act good and when I don't.

Do you?

I'm afraid of what life will be like for me out here in the Siberian winter, on the fringes of pop-culture where the smurfy-crusted hand people make their existence. I keep trying to make my hands clean so that I can avoid how uncomfortable this is. How hard it is to love myself when I start to feel icky.

I must move forward, though. It's time to wash my hands with a blindfold on, to clean the filth that I can clean, and trust God in His providence and mercy that He will take care of all the dirt and filth that resists my soap and water.

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