Pink Fly

A random sketch of a fly, and the difficult flight of faith.

Reprint Post:
Written, April 2006

Beyond the windowsill, Pikes Peak looms large, immovable, dusted with snow and pink light. On the windowsill, the same pink morning sun bathes a big clumsy black housefly. The pink makes me think it’s a she. “She” is flipped on her back, wings buzzing, frantically attempting to right herself. Legs kicking upright in the air like a big beetle. She is fighting to flip over and fly. She is a pink fly, fat and boxy. And, she is very close to falling off the edge of the sill. Thrashing wings and kicking legs, then resting, she is teetering closer and closer to a large drop. I lean in closer and squint at her many large fly eyes, “What got you in this spot? How does a fly land on her back?” Poor judgment, I decide.
The Struggle. She rests, and then begins the flailing struggle again. Each panicked jolt moves her closer to a fall. She is trying to save herself. From my comfortable chair- turned- box-seat, I see that her only saving option is over the edge. She needs to quit struggling and fall. One helpless trusting freefall is her only hope. She can stay there, baking to a dry death in the beautiful pink sun, or she can choose to have faith over the falling edge. And the falling edge is her best option. Because clearly, when a fly falls, flight happens.

This is obvious from a box seat. But it’s less clear as a fly on a windowsill. As she struggles, I realize. I am that housefly; awkward and clumsy, such an unlikely candidate for flight. That pink fly is a picture of my gawky upside-down struggle to live a Christ- Following faith.
I bought a lie early on that has continually landed me flailing on my back like the fly. It has to do with control. It has to do with inner personal strength, and being all put-together, and having the right answers, and doing the right things. I used to think my faith needed to look like a walking advertisement of God-given self-sufficiency. But I’m starting to understand the lie for what it is. It’s not Christ Following. It’s controlling self-preservation. There is very little control in Following Jesus. There is no preserving of self. I’m called to follow; no matter how bad I might look in the process. Sometimes I hate that part.
Hidden Mess. I am a recovering clothes slob. Every few days I have to conquer the pile of clothes that accumulates at the foot of my closet. If left unattended, a long mound of clothes and laundry begins to grow and spread like cancer. My husband and I have to trip and step over and around it to get into the bathroom. That’s the truth. But I don’t want everybody to know that.

One spring morning, my clothes mound was in full bloom, and I had a group of women coming over. I spent an hour or so of fast hustling to get my house clean and looking perfect, so, that I would seem perfect for the new friends who arrived at my house. We were going to meet to get to know each other, and talk about our spiritual questions. There were all sorts of busy hospitality issues to tend, in order to make myself look tidy and all 'put together.' In the end, none of those fussy perfectionistic things mattered. Not one.

Uncovered. Before the little meeting, every part of my house was spotless, except for the malignant mound of clothes around the corner in my bedroom. It was hidden from view. Nobody would need to use that bathroom. Nobody would have to climb over that laundry mountain. Or so I thought. Jane brought her 6 year old son. He wasn’t feeling well. When he realized that breakfast was coming back up for a visit, the guest bathroom was occupied. So my friend, and her son, in a panicked pre-vomit rush, ran into my room. My mound of clothes slowed the sick boy’s run. He threw- up all over my clothes.

There were many things to learn from that experience. The bigger lesson wasn’t about laundry. It was about weakness exposed. I came to realize later, of all the women that came that day, Jane most needed to see that one very imperfect thing in my house. It matched her own weakness. She needed to know I don’t have it all together. It was beneficial for her to know how I would love and accept her, even if she entered my vulnerable place and her children vomited there.
In the clothes mound, I found new understanding of letting go of control. It's important to embrace the moments that expose my imperfections, even when it feels like failure. The relational bond that resulted from unchosen barf on my hidden clothes is an important reminder. God has the ability to weave unexpected beauty and freedom into vulnerable moments of weakness.

Falling and Dying. This way-of-being plays out in many harder ways; ways that feel like being upside down with our legs scrambling in the air; ways that land me on my back and make my pride flail on the window sill like the gangly Pink Fly. These are the crisis choices of surface struggle; when false horizons scream that God's ways are not to be trusted.
When a job is evaporating,
or suicide is beckoning,
or addiction returns,
or a child is abused,
or chronic illness goes unhealed,
or a spouse is betrayed,
or a house is burned to the ground …
Sin-cursed issues like these force a choice. The first most obvious choice always appears to be an all out surface struggle -- self-reliance, self-preservation like the up-ended fly on the sill. But often, the best choice is a counter-intuitive trust in something other than self.

Fact is, faith isn't lived by sight. Sometimes a spiritual life has to choose in opposition to physical evidence: even if it means looking foolish, even if it all looks hopeless, even if all my weaknesses are exposed in the process and I end up with vomit on my clothes. This upside down Way is still Life, even when it feels like falling and dying.
Trust and Flight. I want to learn to embrace faith in God’s control and quickly flip my flailing into graceful falling and trusting flight. But fact is, I still buy the surface lie. I still see the physical world first. I still control. I still doubt. I still want to look good. And I certainly haven’t figured out how to embrace dying-to-self in a way that feels more like flight, and less like the clumsy pink fly on her back trying to right herself. It takes practice to be otherwise. It takes time to be transformed.
The Fly. This brings me back to the window sill. I wish every daily choice were always as obvious as the fly’s struggle. From the box-seat, it is clear. But, she doesn’t see it. Even though that fly has 1000 eyes, her physical sight is of little value. She doesn’t see that she must choose a helpless freefall. She needs to skootch all the way to the edge of reason, and choose a blind leap of faith in order to fly again.
Maybe her surface struggle is a necessary means to knowing flight. And for me, maybe the physical struggles of this planet are the best access to truly seeing and knowing the one Saving God. I feel like that fly; because, a lived faith is often accompanied by a clumsy, falling, dying sensation. Like her, my best option, is usually to quit struggling, stop, trust, and just fall into flight.

Or maybe she’s just a clumsy Pink Fly who found her way to the window’s edge and flew away. And I’m making way too much of it all.

“If anyone would come after me,he must deny himself and
take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me, will save it.”
~ Jesus


Image: "Pink Fly" logo from PINK FLY womens boutique and environmentally friendly products in Victoria, Australia.


Caitlin Barber said...

You're great :)