Some seasons in life just flat out suck, no other way to put it. I was in over my head, deep into one of these seasons. I’m talking perpetually stuck in the first 45 minutes of a chick flick where the lovable main character experiences these ridiculous made-for-the-movies type things. All jokes aside – it was getting pretty dark. One night while ugly crying in my bed, I experienced this moment of clearness. One of those moments when the fog around me cleared and a lightening rod of clarity just hit me and all I could think was “there is so much beauty in the dog shit.”
Makes sense, right? No? Let me go back. My childhood, while somewhat unconventional, was filled with wildly entertaining characters. Three of those characters, the Rockefeller boys, literally functioned from a young age as eccentric geniuses. Growing up in a suburban neighborhood, the Rockefeller trio kept me remarkably entertained. Some of their adventures included building a compressor powered gun to shoot golf balls at the shed, jumping off of the second floor onto the sofa below and witnessing their grandparents honking the horn on their mid-90s Astro van, which played the Kansas State University fight song, as they reversed down the driveway, taking down the basketball goal with them. Ah, the memories.
They also had this dog, an essentially indestructible basset hound named Benji. One day Benji got stuck straddling the electric fence. After what felt like forever, he limply plummeted off the wire. It looked like the end for Benji the basset hound. We watched in horror as he lay motionless on the ground. Then, he got up and stumbled off. Seriously, this dog couldn’t die.
Fast forward to the day the youngest Rockefeller began yet again to engineer something that I can’t even pretend to understand. He had the common kitchen tool, the church key, on the ground next to him. He turned around and turned back to find Benji, but no church key. Looking around it became clear that only one thing had happened – Benji ate the church key. Word spread quickly through the neighborhood ranks. We all began to wonder if this would be the death of Benji. The consensus, Benji would die, and soon. We waited as only kids in a cul-d-sac do. We pondered the many outcomes and the horrible demise of the tall tale of such a lovable albeit odd-defying creature. None of us held much hope, none except for the youngest Rockefeller boy. He had no doubt Benji would recover, keeping complete faith as the rest of us waited for him to die. As the offspring of such outlandish geniuses, he got his dad’s metal detector (yes, it was just laying around) and began to daily check the dog’s excrement. That’s right folks, one of the most intelligent young geniuses I’ve ever known checked the dog’s shit to see if he passed the church key, or if he would in fact die before afforded the opportunity to do so.
Now the metal detector went off quite a lot. The only way to truly determine what triggered the sound was to start digging. You can picture this, so I don’t need to elaborate. You can see the dirty messy gross picture unfolding in the suburban backyard.
Flash forward to this as my moment of clarity in a dark season – a young child genius digging through dog poop. How on earth could this change me in a profound way, twenty years later? Well see, this made me think, a lot. Life is like digging through the dog shit. It is hard, gross, messy, disgusting and smelly. No one wants to do the hard work. No one wants to believe when they are on their hands and knees in the grass dissecting excrement that something good will come of it. But life happens here. We have a choice – we can dig, or we can lose hope and miss out on the beauty buried there.
You see, none of us believed Benji would live. None of us believed that Benji would pass the church key. But one day when the metal detector sounded, there it was, the church key, covered in dog shit. What none of us believed or imagined could happen was right there as proof. Proof that if you keep digging through the hard, gross, messy stuff of life, there is beauty. The beauty of Ephesians 3:21 that goes beyond what we could ask or imagine. The kind of beauty that solidifies and deepens who you are in Christ and what He has for you. And as my wise friend Amanda pointed out to me, you don’t always have to dig through the poop alone. There are people in your life who want to dig through the dog shit with you. Sometimes you just have to be willing to ask and vulnerable enough to share such an experience with them.