The Picket Fence Gospel
It’s official. I’m looking for a new house.
Because Post-Graduate studies don’t leave much room for four-story mansions.
The past three months have been pretty hectic (thus my virtual absence. Pun intended), but good in their own way.
My grandmother passed away.
My uncle is severely sick with cancer.
My sister received three complex operations in three months’ time.
They broke into our house.
One of my best friends was in hospital for two weeks.
And then, LIFE.
But, not to go all existential and mopey on you – this Picket Fence topic is, despite the current appearance, supposed to be funny. Or, at the very least, sarcastic. And, if you don’t think sarcasm is funny, I know a guy (with a baseball bat) who can help you out.
The thing is, despite the rough seas (or whichever picket-fence related metaphor is befitting) things are actually going really well. I’ve made some cool new friends, and managed to keep most of my amazing old ones. I spent quality time with my family. And, 2016 – planning is going well.
However, I have come to realise that I’ve got a Picket Fence complex, or rather, ideology.
Thus — The Picket Fence Gospel:
This is my yard.
Keep off the lawn.
Yeah, that’s basically it.
You see, I am of the opinion that, if your pet is small enough for me to be able to drop-kick them back over the fence into your yard, they are not worthy of the name “dog”. Also, my Picket Fence marks out my territory. Mostly because I’m not a touch person, and I HIGHLY value my personal space (On-line Shopping might be my fourth-favorite demi-religion in a couple of months). And though I am much younger than 30 (okay, give or take 5 years) I take my KEEP OFF THE LAWN signs very seriously. (It really took a long time to get the glitter lettering just right).
So, the point is, I suppose, that people construct their own white picket fences however they deem it appropriate or necessary.
We humans do this to make the neighborhood seem nice, and to make sure the paper is delivered to the mailbox and doesn’t end up in the roses, and to be able to sleep at night.
Mostly to be able to sleep at night.
We lull ourselves into safety and comfort, believing that the monster won’t come out from under the bed as long as we leave the hallway light on. The metaphor (this is the mansplaining version) is therefore that we surround ourselves with things – tangible or intangible – that guard us, that make us feel safe.
Take last night for example; I went on a date with a guy that I met on Tuesday when a friend and I took her car to the dealership to be serviced.
I suppose you could say it was a blind date. But that would be rude because he is *diabetic, and not blind. I didn’t speak to him on Tuesday (not my car i.e. not my circus), so it was a bit out of the blue when he asked me to dinner. It turned out to be one of the better random first dates I’ve had. But, all through the night I realised that I was maintaining a strict picket fence perimeter, modulating my conversation, and not dropping names when I’m telling a story. To be fair, I don’t know the guy, and I don’t trust just any ol’ unicorn salesmen.
When I got home, I found myself asking (i.e. over thinking everything since third grade) why I feel the need to protect myself, or to do the whole “I’m totally fine, this is a happy house” charade.
And this is my conclusion: people suck.
Most of them (even the really good ones) will disappoint us at some **point in our lives. And that’s basically because we’re human.
This brings me to part two of the Picket Fence Gospel (the part that is actual Gospel):
- Jesus never said Christianity would make life easier. In fact, He promises that we will face MORE hardships on account of our faith in Him. They persecuted and killed Him, why would they not do that to His disciples? The prosperity Gospel has done so much harm in society promising easy sailing and instant riches, all you have to do is say this really quick prayer to get your name on the Get out Of Hell For Free list. That is not Gospel.
- Pick a side to be on. Scripture says (in Revelation 3:16) that we cannot be fence-sitters, or fencers, if you like.
“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
(New International Version)
This basically means that we (that us – the homo-sapience) have a choice – we’re either for Christ, or against Him. There is no in-between option.
- Scripture also speaks about this short little guy – I suppose if the Bible had Hobbits, he would be one – named Zacchaeus. In Luke 19 we find the story of Jesus who calls Zacchaeus down from the tree in which he climbs and says that he wants to have dinner with him.
Zacchaeus, who was a really short guy, had to climb in the tree in order to see over the crowd’s heads. He was desperate to see Jesus. The crowd – who knew he was a tax collector – shunned him and prevented Him from reaching Jesus. However, in his desperation the little man-made a plan. But, no fear – Jesus came to find him. You see, the thing is, we Christians are often so caught up in our holiness and “crowd control” that we prevent those who really want and need Jesus to really encounter him. When was the last time you climbed a tree?
The picket fence gospel is not supposed to show the world how flawless and holy you are. It’s supposed to say – this is a safe place. Come sit on my porch. Let me bring you a mug of coffee. Let’s have dinner. Let’s talk about Life.
So, you see – life really is a picket fence gospel. It’s about homes, and belonging, and people. So, when I have my new house in 2016, please swing by whenever. Sit on the lawn if you feel like it. Take off your shoes. And have dinner with me.
(*disclaimer: my sister is diabetic, so I’m really not attempting to hate on anyone here).
(** Literary indulgence in the pointedly disappointing word choices).