My Word of the Week: Dust

dust –  noun \ˈdəst\

: fine dry powder that builds up inside buildings on surfaces that have not recently been cleaned
: fine powder made up of very small pieces of earth or sand
: fine powder made from a particular substance

__________

I look around the office, the living room, the bedrooms—there is dust everywhere. Admittedly, it’s been a couple of weeks since I pulled out the cloth and took to the flat surfaces. The house could use a good dusting. But in just a few weeks, we’ll be moving. And now we need to start packing and buying paint and planning a yard sale. The dusting will have to wait.

Dust has always been a bit of a mystery to me, floating through the air, riding on the sun beams, landing on the table with little notice. Until it accumulates, that is. One dust particle? That’s nothing. A layer of millions of dust particles all clumped together? That’s a problem.

My first chore as a young child was dusting. That’s probably why I hate it to this day. Rumor has it—and it’s possible I remember this myself—that on Saturday mornings when I was supposed to be dusting, television cartoons sang their siren song to me, and my mom would find me lying on the floor in front of the old console, dusting the television with my feet while enjoying the latest episode of The Wonder Twins or The Road Runner. Two birds with one stone?

Dust. It’s practically nothing, yet it builds up and clogs up and cakes on and obscures. Dust ruins things.

I am made of dust.

During an especially difficult time in my life when my body had betrayed me and the uncertainty of my life hung over me like a canopy I couldn’t escape, I found great comfort in knowing I was made from dust. That I am practically nothing. That I am capable of ruining things. Because suddenly, it took the pressure off. I didn’t have to have a perfect plan for my future. I didn’t have to know the cosmic reason of suffering. I didn’t have to be the answer to anyone else’s questions, either.

In the Bible, dust is a sign of repentance. It’s also a sign of humility or baseness. Dust sometimes represents the land. It often is a placeholder for the human body.

I am just dust—an accumulation of minute particles.

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But God is more.

Not only is God not made of dust, He is capable of making me from dust, and you. He creates something—everything—from practically nothing. He takes ruined things and makes them whole and valuable again. But he remembers, always, that I am not more. I am just dust.

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
—Psalm 103:13-14

Life often feels like it’s getting away from me, like tiny particles riding in the light above my head, just out of reach. Or like the accumulation of a million little things growing on the flat surfaces of my life. I can’t get to them all. Dust settles in and builds up and cakes on and obscures, threatening to ruin everything if I let it. I hate dust.

But again and again, Jesus reminds me that he doesn’t. He doesn’t despise the dust, because He is more, and out of the dust, he raises up beauty and hope. In me, in you, in us all.

__________

WORD COUNT: 552

Today, I’m joining Ed Cyzewski’s synchroblog for the release of A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth by answering this prompt: ‘What saved your faith?’ Not only is this word “dust” on my mind this week, it truly is what saved my faith several years ago when suffering came seeking to steal it.

What saved your faith? Write a blog post answering that question and then visit www.edcyzewski.com to learn how you can join the synchroblog or to read additional posts to celebrate the release of Ed’s book A Christian Survival Guide, which is discounted on Amazon.

Photo above by Marco Jörger, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.

*This website uses “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.


  • Charity Singleton Craig My Word of the Week: Pare - Charity Singleton Craig ,

    […] recycling until the move is over. We don’t have room in our garage for more garbage bags. I stopped dusting already, and now, we may stop vacuuming—if we can stand […]

    • What Saved Your Faith? Highlights from the Synchroblog | Ed Cyzewski :: Freelance Writer ,

      […] Charity Singleton […]

      • Sandra Heska King ,

        Two weeks? It’s only been two weeks? I’m guess it might have been two months here. I figure Jesus might be able to create a lot of beauty here because He’s got a lot to work with.

        Beautiful post, friend.

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          Charity Singleton Craig ,

          Thank you, my friend. And thanks for joining me here. Your presence here, you walking with me in this one-word journey, is so uplifting.

        • Diana Trautwein ,

          This is just beautiful, Charity. One of my favorites from you, ever. Thank you.

        • Ed Cyzewski ,

          Such a great insight into the way that humility can lead us to peace and restoration. So often I think pride is at the root of my spiritual conflicts and struggles. This is a great word!

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            Charity Singleton Craig ,

            Ed – Humility is often a painful lesson for me. But somehow, this idea of my own insignificance often helps me when I feel out of control. Thanks for your comment.