{When Up is Down}

Up is down

And down is up.  God is real

To me.  And doesn’t exist

To others.  I pray
And God does not answer. Others pray

And seem to know.

Up is down

And down is up.

I have too much.
Others don’t have enough.  I am stuffed
Others hungry.

My heart aches and others seem to dance,
always dance.

They say I am a good mother
I believe otherwise.

They say he was a good man,

I say bad, very bad.
We have everything but we feel empty.

Good and bad
Up and down.

What is? 
What is not?

Melt Down

I am my secrets.  They make me human.  And yet, if I don’t trust you enough to share them, I will die of my shame.  I need you to know my despair.

I need to tell you that today my heart is aching. I need you to believe that my masks are not all lies.  You do know me, because I always tell you the truth.  About my despondence — my anguish that comes too easily.  I need to tell you about the internal corruption that sits with me night and day mocking me.  And that I sit with my secrets wondering where are the friends to reassure me that everything will be okay?

Where is God to say that his Truth is all that I need?

Damn you, fear. Damn you pain that sits lodged inside me.  I am choking on it right now.  I thought for a minute I kicked this habit of despair.

I don’t doubt the fact of knowing you God.  I am certain that you are there. Knowing you love even me.  The tears I cannot cry, you wipe away.  No misunderstanding there.  But what I have come to understand is that some days — it makes no difference at all.  I hurt anyway.  Your song, God, offers no comfort today.  The music at times so poignant.  Nothing about that seems to matter, when I know you don’t care what I do with my life.  Universal truths don’t matter, today, as I sit here thinking about what I now know.   What I think I want.  Sitting here smothered by the heavy weight of my self doubt.  Begging you to help me understand what is happening .

Damn you, fear. Damn you pain that sits lodged inside me.  I am choking on it right now. I thought I kicked this habit of despair.

Why do I have to feel my life is so important?  Why can’t I surrender to simply living each day. Loving. Others. Quietly.  Unknown to the world.  Anonymous. Why can’t I just do it.  Instead I sit here under the black cloud of the sinkhole and my need stares back at me in the mirror.

I. want. to. be. s.o.m.e.b.o.d.y.  I want to be important.  I know what I can do.  I know my own potential.

But that is what I thought you took from me — God — in my Exodus years.  I know you took my heartache and salvaged my soul.  Gave me forgiveness and in the sojourn to hell and back you promised to take this hideous ingratitude, ambition and greed.  The need for accolades and esteem.  That part of me that I loathe, that wants so badly to earn my worth.  That thinks I can prove something, anything.  Those ghosts of ambition crowd out all that you have taught me through my affliction.  Face it.

I want to be immortal.  I always want more than you.

It should be enough that you love me.   The knowledge that somehow you are rebuilding the frame of this crooked broken heart, that aches and thinks it is something, anything without you.  My secrets remain.  The fact that some days I don’t want to serve you.  I want to be my own deliverance.  I want to be God.  As if I could.

Damn you, fear. Damn you pain that sits lodged inside me.  I am choking on it right now.

This is me melting down.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

My heart is heavy. 

I haven’t shared these thoughts, thinking that it’s just not kind to be such a bummer during the holidays.  And admittedly, there is much to celebrate — to be thankful for — to enjoy this time of year!

Ringing in the new year has been solemn, as my thoughts return again and again to the people in my life that I love who are in pain.  A friend who is a young mother of three, is very sick and experiencing extreme physical pain.  Actually I have a several friends who are suffering physical pain.  Another lost their mother unexpectedly.  A family member’s wife is leaving him – they have two young children. 

I find myself wondering how much of life are purely random even chance.  How much of a difference do our choices make?  Do you think some things are pre-determined?  Was my friend always going to get sick? Was this family member always going to walk out on their marriage?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary RANDOM is:

Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.

Is it just pure randomness that some get cancer and some don’t.  Some die from a disease, some don’t.  Some are generally optimistic people, others are pessimists.  Some choose truth.  Some choose lies.  Some stay married for better or worse, in sickness & health, till someone dies.  And some people give up.  Good things happen to some.  Sh*t happens.  Some lead charmed lives.  Some just don’t.  Alternatively, some with easy lives aren’t happy and others with challenges and trials have true joy.  Go figure.

I do not believe that all of life is random, but are we the sum of our choices?  I don’t think so.  I hold strongly to the belief that through forgiveness life changes.  Through God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others our circumstances change.  Our fates are changed.   We change our future by being people who are always growing and developing, people who have personal strength and integrity.  And that takes faith.   But I am getting ahead of myself.

There is an aspect of chance and randomness that feels fated.

Are we in command of our lives?  How much of a difference do our choices really make?  Will we not die when we’re supposed to die.  Or get sick when we’re supposed to get sick.  How much do our choices really affect our destiny?

Can I change my future by what I do or don’t do.  If I choose over and over again in my life a certain, unselfish path will more good things happen to me?  That’s been debated for hundreds even thousands of years.  I would say, of course not.  My good actions don’t bring me good karma.  Or vice versa.  That is why so much of life just isn’t “fair.”

I have always thought it was a cosmic curse to have a propensity for addiction.  It’s all over my family tree and all over me.  Not based on my choices per say.  So, will I always be an addict or can I change?  I  chose to stop drinking. And I choose to believe that I have control over (at least that bit of) my destiny and I still believe that.

And then the little devil of addiction jumps to something else.  For a while even Farmville. For two months last winter I was addicted to the point that I lied about how much time I spent on it, even to myself.   It’s ugly!

And for many years I have worked against a shopping addiction.  Yes, worked againstNow that is a slippery, elusive purely evil addiction. So much of life in the American Dream of a culture is centered around shopping, so much so we even shop for our entertainment.  It’s how we “provide”, how we “take care of” our family.  And one can easily lie to themselves about the “need” for many, many purchases.

But I know I have a problem and I’ve had to do various things to control it and I am grateful for God’s grace — and Tom’s grace!  Because there are times when I genuinely can’t seem to control myself.  And sometimes I can.  And do.  And that’s what makes it so tricky.

When it comes to lying there is so much gray.

Here’s what I’ve honestly been thinking about — marriage, love and commitment which is really what I have been thinking about. I ask myself what holds some marriages together — like my in-laws who have been together for fifty years?  It’s more like fifty-five, as they met each other in middle school.  They really “shouldn’t” have lasted because the circumstances were such that they had everything going against them.  Married very young (17 & 19).  An early pregnancy.  Another baby a year later.  But I’m not here to tell their story, I’m just wondering how that happened?  Random chance?  Or by choice.  So I asked them what they thought was the key to staying together?  Bonnie said: “We always looked at it as a lifetime commitment. And I learned not to try to change him.  Accept him for who he is and vice versa.”

Well, that’s what I have always believed.

  • That we have a lifetime to get it right.
  • We shouldn’t expect our partner to change.
  • That I should work to be the person I want to be married to.
  • That love means serving one another.
  • That I am not a perfect** person so how can I expect him to be perfect? **Yeah, that’s an understatement. 

Be the person you want to be with.

 What makes it work for Tom and me?  Yes, we have disagreements and disappointments with one another.  Isn’t that normal?  Thought not that many, which I suppose isn’t normal.  But contrary to the perception I got from reading Harlequin Romances no-one is perfect.    And even gorgeous people gain weight and lose their hair.  They lose jobs.  They lose vitality.  They sometimes even “lose it.”

But I was actually thinking about internal qualities which are the stuff of genuine love: how we treat one another.  Do we respect, trust, and love?  Do we affirm?  Are we kind most of the time? … Those are the things that hold marriages together, I think.  And even if things aren’t perfect, it makes for a great life, exploring it together!

And speaking of strange — we all know couples where there is abuse involved — and yet strangely they stay together.  My mother stayed with my father for 42 years and he was a b*st*rd to her.  No not all the time.  Not publicly.  Not in ways that she or I can “prove” because words don’t leave bruises people can see.  She says she stayed because she believed marriage was for life.   I really believe she should have left him.   But she stayed until she buried him.  Who am I to judge one way or another  and this isn’t about her story either.

Back to the questions.

Should two people who aren’t “happy” [with each other] separate?  Divorce?  What if there are kids?  What if there is no abuse?  What if one is an addict?  Or one of them is a chronic liar?  What if one of them is destroying their future and won’t get help?  I don’t know.

Tom has “stuck” with me through all my nonsense and pain, history, baggage, “stuff” I’ve had to work out in counseling.   Because he made a commitment to me?  Because he loves me?   Yes to both.  And because he is good and generous and kind man. Because he believes in that illusive thing: lifetime commitment? Some days perhaps that was why, the commitment.  But no matter why I am so glad he did.

Then I think about the random fact that if Tom’s first wife hadn’t walked out on him after eleven years of marriage, he and I wouldn’t be together.  Randomness.  Chance.

Random chance?  But if you give in to that kind of loosy-goosy thinking then nothing is solid.  Nothing can be counted on.  No one can be counted on and no one can count on you.  We do have choices and they do make a difference.   It makes us who we are, a person of character. Or not.  And it impacts what happens to us.

Galatians 5:24-25 (NLT) says

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Galatians to me is about obedience; asking ourselves, as we search our heart for the passions and desires of our sinful nature, what does love have to do with it?  Can we lay them down our selfishness and sinful desires?

What does it mean to obey in the midst of broken hearts and broken lives, randomness, sinful choices, abuse, selfishness, commitment, love and the simple pursuit of happiness — because in the end isn’t that what we all want — to be happy.

What does it mean to follow the Spirit’s leading with our passion and desires?

I hope that I am not one of the Crazies.

the Stainned Gless of depicting the Holy Spirit.
Image via Wikipedia

I wake from a recurrent dream.  It unsettles me.  Always

in slumber I am Searching for meaning

to life.  For love,

taking on many forms.  Assurance

of the illusive, improbable God to talk. To me.  Give me some sign.

Speak my LORD, won’t you?  Prove [again] that you are real.

Shake the heavens —   Flood the earth– Heal the sick — Give sight to the blind, yes sight for me.  Today.

I feel ashamed of my doubts.  Fear

that religion is some celestial apothecary, erected by the weak in our need

to silence our spiritual afflictions.  A contrivance.

And yet that very Truth that I seek is a need — So exacting.

Out of my heart comes my deepest longing for God, meaning, Truth. How do I sometimes know

so clearly, so absolutely?  And other days I feel a universal, colossal Absence. And I am terrified

of the possibility — Are the heavens vacant?

Ashamed

of my heart, so quick to Doubt — Demand — Need.

So many crazies,  I do not want to be one of them. I want Knowledge.  I Seek Truth.

I Seek absolution and forgiveness.

I Need reassurance that our buildings, our rhetoric, our activities aren’t simply tokens

of our need.

Anne Rice rejects

the bricks and mortar of faith — Stepping

away from judgment and scorn to something else.

A Floridian pastor chatters hollowly about prayer for God’s will to burn a Holy Book, taking a civic stance

against America’s “enemies.” A lesbian cleric challenges us to love our enemies, meaning her.

I try to stay open, loving, faithful — and some challenge the very core of my faith.

Absolutes come with human judgment.  Scriptures wrongly translated

and easily misunderstood.  For thousands of years Men

have held their power over women, crushing spirits, and then questioning

our faith when we stand up against this treatment.

Why would a loving God not give me complete access and authority?

Why would a loving God not accept the prayers of gays and lesbians, dear faithful people

seeking Truth as much as me?  Why do Absolutes bring judgment and misunderstanding, when put in the hands of misguided men and women?

Thank you, but I’ll take my doubts and questions to scripture.  I’ll stumble my way through original meaning, cultural influences and climate.  I’ll implore the mystical and Holy Spirit of God.  [who on most days I know is active and real]

to teach me, a Woman, but also forgiven

sinner first before a sexual being.  Teach me, I am humanity

with desires and longings unfulfilled over a lifetime.  Teach me, I am humbled.

And I fall prostrate and hope that I am not one of the Crazies.

That God hears Me.

** I use the term “Crazy”  for the lunatic fringe.