All I Want for Christmas

One of my New Years Resolutions is to perfect a calm state of being. To me, calmness comes from a complete and pure faith in God.

Unwavering.

Unswerving.

Unafraid.

I want to cross a sea while threatened by towering walls of water on either side of me.

I want to be betrayed, thrown in a pit, enslaved, jailed, falsely accused, and imprisoned.

I want to stand firm in the furnace, flames engulfing me.

I want to stand in the den, staring into the face of a lion.

I want to see Christ at the right hand of God, standing for me, as stones are thrown.

I want to be crucified upside down with a smile on my face, dying in ecstasy, filled with the purest love for Him.

I want to be able to suffer.

For Him.

It’s such a strange desire, one that does not make sense unless you understand what suffering can do.

It can free a nation.

It can save a nation.

It can make you stronger.

It can overcome fear.

It can overcome death.

It can redeem you.

Suffering many times springs from selfless sacrifice. Sacrifice many times springs from selfless love. God so loved man that He sacrificed His one and only son. Christ so loved us that he willingly sacrificed himself. That sacrifice ensured his suffering but ensured our salvation.

So yes, it might seem a strange resolution and a strange request, but if I could have one gift for Christmas, it would be to suffer for Him with joy.

Well that and a new couch.

Merry Christmas!

Calm

via Daily Prompt: Calm

Sometimes I Feel an Echo

via Daily Prompt: Echo

Sometimes I hear an echo, only it is not quite a sound but rather a memory. Or perhaps a memory of a feeling. Like yesterday, when I saw him standing there and I felt a giddy sensation of possibility. The new and exciting feeling of “love” that I only remember feeling too many years ago. And it is though I have never felt that feeling before and it is all new and wonderful and filled with a mysterious magic. But I am no longer young and I have felt that feeling before with devastating results. The echo was lovely but now it’s gone and I am finding I am ok with that.

Sometimes I will watch a married couple and I will smile. I will remember the days when I too was married and how, even though there was so much unspoken misery, there was also times of unity. And an echo of that memory when I was not alone but a part of a team, however incomplete that team may have been, will swallow me up and for just one moment I will sigh with relief. But then I remember that I am alone and the only unity I can speak of now is the unity of all of the fractured parts of myself. Yes, the echo was lovely but now it’s gone and I am finding I am ok with that.

Sometimes I will see a commercial, like the Amazon one with the Dad who drops his son off at preschool and peeks through the window to see his son sitting desolate and alone while the other children play. And I will feel the echo of the days my oldest son, who is now nearly fourteen, was in Kindergarten and he was terrified of the boys bathroom and how it sounded as if the whole world would disappear whenever the toilette was flushed. Or I will see a mother in front of my children’s school with a baby and the chubby, fleshy thighs will stir an echo of a memory of my own children when they were just babes, and oh how my heart will swell. And an ache will accompany the memory because those days are gone forever. The echo was lovely but now it’s gone and I am finding I am ok with that.

There are constant echoes of past that sound at different times: days of playing kickball in the old neighborhood covered in dirt and grime and all the signs of childhood happiness, the first kiss that released the bevy of butterflies aching to be free, the roundness of my belly that swelled with life, the long walks with those babies through changing seasons…And the feelings reverberate within my heart as if I am standing on the edge of some great cliff overlooking the world and I am shouting out as loud as I can to the universe, to God,

Thank You.

Swallowing Darkness

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”

Thirty-nine-years-ago, a light came into the world in the form of a slimy, mucous-covered ball named Lilly.

That would be me.

Though my light has had darkness swirling around and about it, though the darkness has tried to eat my light, the darkness has not overcome.

No.

Darkness has not swallowed me; I have swallowed darkness.

Now it lives in me but it is not me.

It lives in this body made of flesh and bones and tendons and joints.

It lives in my mind made of lobes and ganglia and synapses.

It lives in all of this which is me and which is not me.

Today I am alive.

Today the darkness has not overcome.

Shame Can Be A Good Thing

It is quiet in this house. Three boys sleep peacefully upstairs, still dreaming about their adventures in Minecraft and Roblox, unaware of the turbulence growing within the sea. Two have just entered their teens and one is but eleven. Children still.

The girl-child, the smallest at only six, is asleep on the pullout couch just across from me. She is surrounded by an army of her stuffed animals, unaware of the turbulence growing deep down within the sea.

I look around me, try not to look around me, so as to remain blissful, ignorant, blissfully ignorant, and for the most part I am successful.

But every once in a while I stumble, fall, and open my eyes to look around. This morning I stumbled onto a blog. It was about shame and not feeling shame. I believe a quote from Anais Nin led the post. So as you can imagine, the post was in favor of not feeling shame.

On certain accounts I also protest the devastating effects of shame. Victim shaming is despicable. Body shaming is another harmful form of shame. Once, in sixth grade, I was humiliated and deeply shamed when I had a moment while doing sit-ups in gym. I came up and something came out (in the form of a loud noxious gas). Suffice it to say, I still don’t do sit ups.

I suppose any emotion can be manipulated but I think in its truest and purest form, shame is a good thing. It is the firm look, a reproachful look, of a wise and loving mother.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.  ~ C. S. Lewis

It is a soft nudge, a gentle poke, that whispers to you, “This is not ok. What you are doing is not ok. Perhaps you should reconsider.”

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’ ~ C. S. Lewis

It is the teacher, the guide, the guardian holding you accountable, not only for the choices you make that affect you, but the choices you make which affects others.

There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster; instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do ~ Noam Chomsky

The social construction that causes me worry, that agitates my mind, is the one in which people, specifically women, justify having affairs with married men. I speak specifically of women because I am one. It means a lot to me. I feel a shared sense of solidarity with other women. I care for them. Deeply.

I also speak specifically of women because I think that we hold incredible power and influence. When that power and influence is focused on destroying marital vows, eroding the meaning of marriage, and in the process harming other women and children, it is disheartening to say the least.

The blog I stumbled upon was written by a woman who is in the midst of another affair with a married man. The post was justifying the decision to ignore that healthy feeling of shame and instead feel pride for the decisions she has made.

Sigh…

Life is an incredible adventure, but it is not an adventure we take alone. It is exciting to think that each decision we make is weaving a story, each decision we make is creating a future. But it is not our story alone; it is not our future alone.

I think about the boys asleep upstairs playing with dreams and I think about the small girl-child who is beginning to stir. I strive, battle, fight to create a world in which they can trust, in which love abounds, and commitments are real, a world in which people still do the right thing.

But one day they will leave the world I have made for them and they will step out into the world that is being co-created by all of you: people who do not cheat, lie, and steal and by people who do cheat, lie, and steal. A world created by people seeking the good for themselves and a world created by people seeking good for all.

And that knowledge right there, well…it scares the hell out of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obsessed With…

There are many things I could claim an obsession with: chocolate, coffee, sleeping. But they are not true obsessions. They do not occupy my mind at all times.

There is only one thing that truly fills the space in my mind, reaching back to the most remote crevices, and that is faith.

But not just any faith, faith in God.

And not just any God, but the God, my God, the Christian God.

I completely understand if someone believes in something else. What I don’t understand, or perhaps understand but don’t agree with, is when they speak in generalities so as not to offend someone of a different faith.

Once I had a man say the usual thing, “…whatever you believe in, God, Allah, a feather…”

Wait. What? I was following him until he threw in the feather. But that is what it eventually comes down to. If you believe in God, proclaim it. If you believe in Allah, proclaim it. If you believe in Vishnu, proclaim it. I understand the fear of offending someone in our hypersensitive society, but that fear is watering everything down. It is watering down meaning.

Anyhow, I digress. Or maybe I don’t.

Obsession with my faith. Yes. There we go.

I must constantly think about my faith because it is constantly called into question, and not simply by non-believers, but even more so by believers.

I’ve  met with my Jehovah Witness friends for years now much to the horror of my Catholic friends. My Church of Christ friends have something to say about both my JW friends and my Catholic friends.

They are all followers of Christ. What separates them is their different interpretations of scripture. Baptism and age requirement, validity of the Trinity, and the afterlife are just a few.

The confusion and doubt comes because all of these beautiful people believe they are interpreting the scripture correctly, that God is giving his approval of their interpretation. But surely God cannot approve conflicting interpretations, or to put it another way, they can’t all be right.

I do believe in God and I do believe in an objective truth. I do believe in an absolute morality. I’m just not exactly positive what it fully is.

And so I find myself alone, not a member of any particular branch of Christianity, but still a member of the church because thankfully the church is not contained in a brick building or white clapboard structure, but it is in the body of Christ.

I am often times confused. I talk, I listen, I read, I try. And while I do all of those things I keep two scriptures in the back of my mind.

John 2:24-25

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

I will not put my faith in the hands of any man. I put it in God only.

1 Corinthians 1:19

 For it is written:

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.

I will also not put faith in myself. I put it in God only.

And so I will continue to talk, listen, read, and try – try to understand. I will ask for forgiveness for the things I can’t understand and for the things I think I understand but are actually wrong.

And above all I will keep my faith.

 

Obsessed