This post is a part of the Unco Synchroblog for the theme UnCarnational. You can read the other pieces here.
“I can’t even” is one of those now ubiquitous pop culture phrases. It is apparently said by all the “white girls”, you know, the ones who wear leggings as pants while sipping their pumpkin spice lattes. Or have they switched over to Peppermint Mochas. Whatevs.
Yesterday, I had a day where the sum total of my life just felt like “wow… I can’t even right now” Can’t even what? How about:
I can’t even take care of myself right now
I can’t even pay my bills
I can’t even keep from overdrafting my checking account
I can’t even communicate with my ex-wife about anything other than the kids
I can’t even see my kids whenever I want to
I can’t even do my laundry without forgetting to check my pockets and having a pen create an inksplosion for the second time in six months in my best friends’ new dryer. (sorry guys! I can’t even tell you how embarrassing that is!)
I can’t even keep the “easy” relationships in my life from becoming complicated.
I can’t even regulate my moods without medication and a happy light.
I can’t even articulate my own needs
I can’t even appreciate the people in my life who do the most for me
I can’t even do my shitty retail job well.
I can’t even do the thing I feel called to do
I can’t even get a definitive answer about a job I interviewed for three times.
I can’t even sleep through the night.
I tend to have a very high view of incarnational theology. The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. I dig that. The Divine becoming human somehow makes the human experience redemptive and redeemable. Howard Thurman says it is our lives’ goal to incarnate the dreams that God has put within us. In other words, this material world has worth and we should be about bringing goodness and beauty into it. I’m all for that.
But the incarnation is also about limitations. God comes into the world and can’t even wipe his own ass. There are several instances in the Gospels where Jesus seems to interact with his disciples in a way that basically says “Really, guys? I can’t even right now!” When he is mocked on the cross by the bandit hanging next to him, it is because he can’t even save himself. God’s love is kenotic, self limiting and self emptying. It’s a love that sometimes can’t even.
It’s in those moments of feeling empty and limited that my spiritual life becomes much less about what I can do with my external resources and it calls me to draw upon (or in my current state, to go mining for) internal resources. When I come face to face with all of the things that I can’t even do, I turn inward toward the things that I can do and that I know can’t be taken from me. I can think. I can pray. I can read. I can write. I can meditate. I can allow myself to feel the pain of my limitation and I can offer myself grace in the midst of my inadequacies. These are mystical things that run counter to my activist, incarnational hardwiring. I have to remind myself that the Divine is as much Spirit as She is flesh.
My ability to “even” feels highly compromised. And maybe my problem is that I try to “even” too much. I can’t even but I can be. I pray this time of being is preparing me for the days when I can “even” again.