When Edwin Moore created the pushpin in 1930 it’s fair to assume he had no idea how wildly popular his innovation would be. The convenience of holding something in place with a simple push of the thumb has transformed the world for nearly a hundred years with corkboards, neatly aligned memos, and yes, Pinterest—the online ability create boards of interests and store them neatly in the tidy world of the web.
I confess I am Pinterest adverse. I’ve heard all the sales pitches. I’m sure it’s lovely. It’s not for me.
Here’s the hang-up I have with “pinning” my want-to-be-world: it makes me miss out on the beauty of the world right in front of me, because most of the beauty in life is not something you can see with your eyes, you feel it with your heart.
For example, last night friends came by for dinner. Pizza out of a box. Salad from their garden. Beer. That was it. Even the flourless cake we had for dinner was a complete mess since I was using the wrong utensil and was committed to making it work. The kids rearranged the furniture. There were pillows and blankets littering the floor. A confetti of pistachio shells lay like fairy dust on every surface.
There was nothing impressive about the evening…in ‘pinnable’ terms. Yet the evening was filled with the beauty of laughter, conversation, insight, admiration, shared trials and burdens, hope, and acceptance. Beauty carried the gentle tone of the voices. It treasured the differences of opinions. It celebrated the “me toos” that guard the heart from feeling the sting of loneliness.
Pins have been used since the earliest of days to hold things together. The Sumerians used them to keep their loincloths in place…and some babies still do. Pinterest is a place to hold dreams and plans together. Pins have their place.
Just not in our relationships. How in the world do you pin grace? Once you stick it to hold it in place, it’s gone. Only grace can hold people together.
Grace gives people the space to work out ideas in conversation—with no one caring if they’re right or wrong, just in process. Grace refuses to grab the pushpin and says, “This is my dream friend/spouse/leader/employee/student/neighbor. Forever be as I have placed you on my board.” Grace gives up that control. It doesn’t create “friend boards” where people are pinned in place as objects to be owned and manipulated.
Sure I get why people want to stare at perfection. I have had days where I wanted a perfect husband, perfect kids, a perfect house, and perfect friends. But it’s so boring. And disappointing. And I am such an incredible screw up in the perfection department. I wonder if the obsession with Pinterest will only makes us all the more intolerant of the people and situations who mess up the “board” we’re creating?
Isn’t that pretty much the story of Jesus? He came to an orderly community with all kinds of ways of keeping everything controlled–rules, codes, Sabbath, feasts and festivals–and He wrecks it all up. Eating with the very “unpinnables”–sinners, prostitutes, cheaters. Perfume is spilled on the ground. Reputations are sullied. Jesus was always saying, “Sit at the table with me and let’s make a mess of this quiet, little dreamy life you keep trying to live.” He was shaking up everything with His outrageous grace.
Grace is too real for it to be lived only dreams, held together with a pin on a board. It is the living, breathing, screaming anthem of acceptance that holds us safely together. It is what makes us real, or at least the ability to be real.
Grace is not convenient. It is not tidy. But it is so beautiful.
So I have pinned the memories of last night to my heart. Said a prayer that I will be a friend who does not hold others hostage to my dreams for them. That I will not require them to stay stagnant in one place, like pictures cut out of a cheesy magazine, but that I will let them grow and push back on inadequate dreams to live a grace-reality life that sees beauty—even in the messes—in the life for which we have been created to live; the real life-where grace is required and offered and treasured.