Follow – Five Minute Friday

I’ve wanted to make “Loved As If” my magnum opus and answer all those who are amazed that I follow Christ even though my life has often been “solitary, poore, nasty, [and] brutish.”

Among other things, I’m a student of literature and especially of stories we call myth and legend but originally were simply the stories one generation handed down to another. Until fairly recently, humans weren’t interested in empirical proof of the facts. We wanted to pass on truth. Aesop and Gilgamesh pass on immense truths that have been part of what it means to be human since the beginning.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is one of my all time favourite pieces of literature. It’s also one of the oldest known to man. I”m struck by Gilgamesh’s lament because he realizes he will die. He prays to the god Shamash descibing the bodies floating in the river; this too will be his lot. All that is left is to make a great name for himself. He and his dear friend, Enkidu, undergo many trials and adventures and win great renown. Then Enkidu dies and Gilgamesh loses himself. That’s one of the things death can do.

jesus-and-child-10When I lost my parents, I lost myself. I did not know who I was or to whom I belonged. Knowing that I didn’t belong to the minister, that I gained no identity from him gave me a bit of information about who I was not but none about who I was. That knowledge came from my Friend, from Christ. He condescended to follow me and lead me through the horrifying labyrinth of my childhood. But eventually, I had to choose if I would follow Him. It made me cranky that I had to choose. Then I understood. Christ could not be a beloved magical teddy bear there to comfort, perform miracles when needed, and provide wisdom. He had to be my God as well as my Friend. I had to be willing to follow Him even if my life never became the image I had conjured in my mind and contained more heartache and pain.

He has always been so gracious to me. He has always been there. And I want to follow because of His graciousness and generosity but also because in Him, I know who I am; Christ gives me identity. It doesn’t matter if the identity I have now is the one I would have had my life had been different. This is me. It is the Lord’s doing and it is astoundingly marvelous in my eyes.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Meet

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)

“When did you meet Jesus?”

So many times I’ve been asked that question. I imagine myself walking along and discovering Him around the corner. Or being introduced at a party — a bbq or wine and cheese, or sitting next to Him at a formal dinner.

words to eternal lifeMy response has always been, “I did not meet Jesus. I have no memory of not knowing Him. Over time, I have come to know Him better and plan to continue getting to know Him. He seems to have just swooped me up like my Papa did when I was little. He’s never stopped swooping me up and I hope He never does.”

Many times, curiosity, fear, attraction have sent me scurrying off after something that seems to be meet and right. Eventually, I discover that if I’m scurrying away from Him, even if it’s towards something that looks glorious, I’m going in the wrong direction. Too often, I’ve gotten what I want only to discover I really don’t want it. (Once is more than enough.) And “swoop”! There He is, swinging me high into the air. Where else would I go?

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

2015 A to Z Challenge Reflections

At the end of each annual A to Z Challenge (that’s what the month of April is all about), bloggers write a post reflecting on the experience.

A year ago, I launched launched Loved As If. This year, I reworked the years between escaping the minister and his crazy family and finding healing. In my book, that period is “Attic Clearing.” I encountered many other bloggers and some of their readers. ‘Twas lovely. Blogging two posts each day, one here and one at Glam Of God, a fashion blog I launched during this year’s Challenge, was hard work. And again, ’twas lovely. I’d do it again. Well, maybe I’ll limit myself to one post or write more posts in advance. The A to Z Challenge is a great opportunity to devote a concentrated amount of time to a writing project even when other things are calling my attention. That, along with meeting other bloggers, is what I love.

I do wish it was easier to follow the blogs. Perhaps next year I’ll program a spreadsheet and tick off the blogs I’ve already visited. Except, I happen along an interesting blog and want to return (or, worse, subscribe) and then I’m overwhelmed. It may not be an A to Z Challenge issue but a personal issue. If I program that spreadsheet, I’ll make it available to any who want it.

Thank you for such a lovely challenge. I’m looking forward to next year. Who knows, I might have a theme.

Five Minute Friday: Door

NarniaWardrobeThe image of as Lucy as she peeps through the wardrobe door remains vivid in my mind though I was five when my first grade teacher read us The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. Opening and looking inside is what I do when I encounter a door (as long as I have no reason to believe there is danger).

On the first day when the firm I worked for moved to new office space, instead of unpacking my office and determining that my cases had been safely transported, I went from floor to floor trying doors. One led to a room that held a huge tank and various bits of machinery — it seemed a good place to hide the bodies if there ever were any bodies. (After that first day, the door was always locked; I checked several times.)

I want to know what is behind a door but more so, I want to know where a door leads. Maybe… Just maybe…

There is a door between earth and heaven. I know the way. Jesus taught us the way. My heart is still torn between the two — earth is so lovely but I, who have longed so much for home, know this isn’t really home. For now I’m content to wait and work towards the day when that door is open for me and I rush through it because I also know Who will be there with outstretched arms.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Z is for Zenith

“Our Lord has declared that we are ‘better than many sparrows:’ well, if not better than many a phoenix too, it were no great thing. But must men die once for all, while birds in Arabia are sure of a resurrection?” (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, chapter XIII)

phoenix1I hunger to reach a zenith far beyond my imagination. It’s there. Though I can’t see it, I can feel the tug pulling me, the hunger — and hunger exists to be satisfied.

I want so much more than I can ever accomplish in this life. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, I want everything — to do everything, to learn everything, to love everyone, to create endlessly. Those zeniths call me towards them.

Yet I walk within time that limits how high I can go, at least this side of heaven. But heaven will come. I will soar like a phoenix from the fire, reach zenith after zenith.

Beloved, please make me willing to accept the fire.

Y is for You Said You Weren’t Talking To Me

“Good morning God,” I sleepily greeted Him as I silenced the alarm. After a good stretch, I rolled out of bed and padded over to my closet. “What I should wear today?” I asked Him. “I’ve got that appointment before work, dance classes, and dinner.”

No image came to mind. No small inner whisper filled my heart. My forehead quickly crinkled and then relaxed. I shrugged and made my way into the bathroom to prepare for work. Half an hour later, I pulled garments from my closet, donned an outfit, decided I didn’t like it, tried something else, changed it for yet other garments, and finally slumped on my bed wondering what would be the best thing to wear on a day that included so many different activities.

“Why aren’t You helping me?” I inquired.

The inner silence continued.

“You always help me,” I reminded Him. “You’ve helped me since I was a child.”

Still silence. Sighing, I went to rummage through my closet.

“Please help me,” I pleaded in a small voice when half an hour had passed and I had found nothing suitable. “I’ll be late.”

“You said you weren’t talking to me any more,” the voice spoke clearly in the silence.

angry-womanMy mind flashed back to the threat I had tossed out the night before as I fitfully tried to sleep, “If You don’t let me go home, I won’t talk to You anymore.” The previous day had been filled with thwarted hopes. By bedtime, I was embroiled in a temper tantrum demanding He give me what I knew I needed and deserved.

My head lowered, “I forgot.” My voice was that of a very young child caught doing something she suddenly remembers is wrong. Then I looked up, “I’ll always forget. You know that. I can’t help but forget.”

Silence again.

“I shouldn’t have said it,” I confessed. “I was just angry and scared and so tired.” I pondered for a moment, “Maybe there’s another way I can let You know without threatening to stop talking to You?”

A tear started in my eye as the warm tingle of His embrace held me for a moment. The image of my black skirt, black ballet flats, and green striped white blouse filled my mind. “I thought that blouse was dirty,” I told God as I looked into my closet. My eyes lit up, I had hung it in the wrong section. Quickly I dressed and rushed off to the subway.

X is for X Chromosome

Chromosome_with_Labels_(for_wikispace)The minister I lived with after my parents died believed there was boys’ work and girls’ work. He loved to make and repair things with his own hands and expected his sons and the other boys who lived with him to take an interest. After all, they each had an X chromosome. Unfortunately for him, they had no interest, no desire, probably no aptitude for the work he loved. They loved cartoons, bikes, comic books, ball games, and food.

On Saturdays when he pottered in his workshop in the cellar, his voice could often be heard shouting for one of the boys. Unless he called for a particular boy by name, there was no answer even if one of them was in the kitchen near the cellar door. When he shouted a boy’s name, eventually, that child would appear at the top of the stairs.

Eyes shining, the minister would speak as if offering a great treat, “Do you want to come with me to look for parts?”

“I haven’t finished my chores.” Each gave the stock reply in a voice like lead. They knew any other excuse meant not only being hit and forced to accompany him, but also hearing a long sermon that evening on being a dutiful child and taking an interest in their father’s work as the girls mutely giggled. (Those boys who were not actually his sons probably rejoiced in silence. They had no genetic responsibility to be interested in his work.)

On Saturdays, the cellar, which housed balls and other play gear, was a dangerous place. “Come here and hold this 2 by 4!” the minister would shout to a ball carrying boy who had completed his chores and only wanted to play. “Don’t hold it that way!” the minister would shout, rarely explaining the way he wanted it to be held. “Put your back into it! Hold it tightly!”

At dinner that night, the minister would crow and regale us with exaggerated stories of some boy’s failure to be a real boy and do a man’s work. We remained silent, only laughing at appropriate intervals.

I, being without an X chromosome, was not allowed to help. When I offered, I was sent to work on my embroidery or to engage in some other activity suitable for girls.

But I was more than interested. I was intrigued, so intrigued, I’d make my way to his workshop when he was away and invent communication devices, spy tools, and all sorts of other neat things. They didn’t really work — there was no internet to teach me the things the man wouldn’t. Since I broke a number of items, including the minister’s workshop television, it was probably for the best that I was born before the advent of the internet. Occasionally, I was allowed to ride along with him when he went to find parts. It’s one of my favourite memories of a man who left me with so few fond memories of him.

As an adult, I enjoy embroidery and all sorts of things the minister would call girls’ activities. And though I still lack an X chromosome, I also love hardware stores, tools, painting, mathematics, repairing broken things — all sorts of boys’ activities. It’s such a shame he never knew that one child living in his house would have loved to learn about his interests. It’s such a shame he denied himself so much.

W is for Wow! Real Leviathans

I’m taking a bit of a writing break today. That leaves me with an opportunity to be a geek and post all sorts of neat things about real leviathans.

Kronosaurus Queenslandicus grew to about 30 to 33 feet long (that’s the same as or more than the height of five 6′ tall men). It was a carnivore and may have attacked humans:

Large, round bite-marks have been found on the skull of an Albian-age Australian …that could be from a Kronosaurus attack.

I get why Adam balked when he encountered Nachash. Meeting a real leviathan would terrify me; I’d have to pray (while fleeing) and ask God for courage to face it. Then, I’d probably hide hoping it would go away and only come out if I was convinced there was no other option. (Cowardice runs strong in my family and I inherited it.)

The most complete skeleton of a Kronosaurus Queenslandicus is at Harvard:

Kronosaurus Queenslandicus aren’t the only real leviathans. Cartorhynchus lenticarpus, the first amphibious sea monsters fossil that has been found, were even larger, up to 65′ (think tractor trailer). Though probably not carnivorous (in the sense of eating people), it’s size is truly terrifying.

We have no way of knowing what sort of Leviathan Adam faced. But looking at the sheer size of real leviathan fossils is enough to remind me that I probably would have done no better than he. I am also reminded that when I face real leviathans today, God must usually nudge me, sometimes even drag me kicking and screaming. I’m also reminded that the thing that I fear and what I dread rarely befall me. God has my back.

V is for Vital

“This is the vital thing,” I leaned forward and stared into Alain’s eyes. “I have to go home. I need to find my family. I need help remembering. Maybe if I can remember the specifics, I’ll be able to find them.” I sat back and drew a deep breath in through my nose.

“Memory is like a complex web,” Alain spoke gently. Though his face remained impassive, I heard a ‘but’ in his voice, “There’s no guarantee you’ll ever remember the specifics.”

“But I do remember,” I insisted. “When I’m really tired, I write in German. I only studied enough German to sing arias. I was never learned to write it. And my supervisor brought a German Struwwelpeter he had as a child and not only could I read it, I remembered my Papa reading it to me. All sorts of things trigger my memory.” Wrinkles had formed in my forehead. I tilted my head to one side like a puppy and pleaded in a small, high breathiness, “What can we do to trigger more memories?”

ptsd“We don’t know what will trigger it. The book connected you to a past experience. Tastes, smells, sights, sounds, tactile experiences will trigger memory. But I can’t sit here and determine which experiences will trigger specific memories.” He sighed, “Have you heard of PTSD?”

“Y-y-y-yes,” I stuttered. “I’ve read about it.”

“Why are you afraid?” Alain asked gently.

“I hate being labeled,” my shoulders rose and tightened. “And I don’t want medication!”

“You know I’m a CSW and can’t prescribe. If I thought you needed medication, I’d send you to a psychiatrist.” Alain waited as his words sank in; my shoulders relaxed. “The trauma you’ve experienced has left you with PTSD. You’re pretty good at handling it most of the time but you can’t control it’s affect on your memory. Your memories are so intertwined with the trauma, trying to force yourself to remember, no matter how vital, just won’t work.”

Energy drained out through my hands; in the silence, my fists slowly unclasped themselves. “So I just wait?” My voice was a small, plaintive wail.

“Yes,” Alain nodded his head. “You must continue on the long, slow path. Your hazy memory protects you from remembering too much too quickly. It’s a survival mechanism.”

“But I have an almost photographic memory!” I wailed.

“That’s part of the mechanism. You’re hyper alert and hyper aware,” he insisted. “You’ve told me you always know how to find your way out of any room and if there are no exits, you’re nervous and uncomfortable. That’s another survival mechanism.”

“Why couldn’t God have set a timer so I would remember when I was 20 years old? It really is vital. If either of them is alive, they might die before I find them,” my mouth was a small pout; a tear threatened to spill out of my left eye.

“I know it’s hard but this is the way God designed you. He gave the human brain the ability to protect itself. Your brain did exactly what it’s supposed to do. When you’re ready, you’ll remember what you need.” Then Alain added, “That might take some time.”

A sighing stream of air blew out of my nose. Head bowed, shoulders hunched, I examined my limp hands as they rested against my black linen trousers. After a moment, the corners of my mouth curled into a wry smile. My shoulders relaxed, my head lifted and gently nodded.

Five Minute Friday: Hide

O LORD, how manifold are thy works!
In wisdom hast thou made them all;
the earth is full of thy creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with things innumerable,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it. (Psalm 104:24-26)

Orange-Leviathan_small“You made a sea serpent  to play in the sea!?” My hands waved spasmodically. Involuntarily, my shoulders shrugged. My head shook of it’s own accord. “If someone asks, ‘Why did You make Leviathan?’ You’ll answer, ‘The sea was big. I decided it could use a creature that would like to play in it.’ Again, my hands jerked up. “That is what it means to be God! In a nutshell. You make things for the joy of making completeness.”

Suddenly, I was aware of a hugeness and a hollow feeling filled my tummy, “It’s scary. I’d almost like to hide. Little Anthony’s monsters in The Twilight Zone episode, It’s a Good Life, comes to mind. Except he wills nothing good. He makes everyone pretend to be happy or else…

“But You make sea serpents so they can play in the sea. And You make humans to be happy. If we’re not, Your deluxe Imago Dei operating system causes us to long and reach for happiness. We can refuse happiness. But the longing remains even if we close our hearts to it. You have never let me stop at being unhappy, never let me fashion my unhappiness into a cross that You never gave me to bear. You haven’t made life easy but You have pushed me to reach for happiness in the midst of difficulty. Not complacency but the unbridled joy because living is so grand, my life is so grand, You are so grand.”

The immense hollow had become strong, warm arms holding me, “It’s still scary. (You do make sea monsters to play in the sea.) I still have an initial ‘maybe it would be better to hide’ feeling. You are beyond me. You are so far beyond me, I can’t begin to comprehend. You make sea monsters so they can have fun in the sea. Wow! Just wow! Then again, the sea is big…”

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung at  Heading Home provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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