What’s Love (or Oxen) Got to Do With It?

Life is just so painful and messy and hard and worth it and all that stuff. – Robert Downey, Jr.

The world’s fucked up. And we’ve all heard change has to start with each of us. I cannot rely on the others or the government to make it a better place; I must dive in and do my part. I can do this in both big and small ways. Perhaps it means mending the leg and spirit of an abused animal, or creating a divine dinner for someone who is homebound, or making up a joke to lift up the heartsick, or maybe raising kids who are a little less messed up than I am.

I know I am created to connect with others and heal sufferings around me, but fear has usually stood in the way. Most of us don’t like being uncomfortable and will do anything we can – consciously or unconsciously – to avoid it. By wanting to keep my world safe, I have put limits around love.After years of shunning the Bible, I have picked it up again with some trepidation and have started to read Proverbs. I’m on my second go round through this book with tons of advice about minding your tongue, watching your temper, being careful around foolish people, needing a strong ox…Wait. What was that last part?

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  This verse is so random I completely skipped over it the first time I read through Proverbs, but now it leaped off the page and my eyes were starting to tear up. So here I am, crying over oxen. What the hell?

I’m crying because I see how I have worked hard to keep my life neat, orderly, and secure. Usually this meant letting no feelings play a role in my life. The oxen of my heart was banished outside the stable and not given permission to interact with me. Logic dictated my life because it was practical. Safe. I was too afraid of the mess that could ensue if I dared to listen to my heart and dared  to step outside of the carefully delineated lines my family, my culture, and I had created.

But, I have it all wrong. If I want to make a difference in this world and produce a large harvest of healing, I have to welcome my heart into my life. I have to embrace the chaos, the uncomfortableness and the mess that is sure to come by daring greatly. By accepting this uncomfortableness, and welcoming the ox into the stable, I will see my fair amount of shit and pain that I’ll have to shovel through. But I will also gain a strong heart. A heart ready and able to serve. A heart that knows how to serve greatly.

– ∞

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