Christian Community Is A Christian Thing

Years ago, at a time when I still had many acquaintances but few real friends, I had one very, very dear friend. She did her best to comfort me when I discovered my parents were, in fact, dead. She helped me understand the responsibility my therapist had towards me and I towards him. And, to celebrate my birthday, she even made frozen dinner (it was better she not attempt real cookery) and gave me the kind of toy I was never allowed to play with when I was a child. Once, she even saved my life.

But she wasn’t a friend I could keep and I knew it. Whenever I was discouraged about finding my family, worried about work, or indecisive about whether I should go to an audition, she’d offer to “do a reading” for me. I understood that she was offering me the best she had. And perhaps God had given her gifts of prophesy. But she saw the gifts she might have as hers to control. She believed she should peer into the future so that she and others might have an easier time traversing life.

Whenever she offered to “do a reading” for me, I’d demur. I didn’t want to hurt my friend but I knew divination to be, at the very least, an attempt to circumnavigate the limitations God has placed on us. He has given us this moment and asks us to trust Him. He has not given us permission to map the suffering and good things in the future and then plot an optimal course through. As time passed, I became more and more uncomfortable with my friend’s activities. Though she was wonderful, our ability to be in community was hindered because we walked very different paths. We couldn’t accompany one another because we didn’t share a common goal. Ultimately, I ended our friendship.

Christian community is a Christian thing because of the common goal we share: Christians are striving to follow and become like Christ and to get to heaven. We regularly fall and are oft times reduced to crawling yet as we travel together, one of the most important things we do is encourage one another. Just as CPT Sarah Cudd’s received support to cross the finish line and earn her EFMB in the video below, Christians support each other as we follow Christ. In fact, no matter how much we disagree, we can’t be Christians without each other. We are indispensable to one another.

Years ago, when my life felt like one overwhelming disappointment, I needed people who would remind me that God loved me and that I could trust Him even if my dreams of finding my family never came true. Invitations to peer into the future were a temptation that made living in the moment more excruciating. When all I longed to do was read the last page of the book and make sure it held the happy ending I envisioned, I needed to be reminded that God was calling me to crawl and trust. No matter how wonderful my friend was she couldn’t help me do that because paging ahead in the midst of suspense is the exact opposite of trust.

As long as non-Christians aren’t hindering our faith, they certainly ought to be our friends. We ought to invite non-Christians to participate in most community activities. And we must do so without an agenda. We must not invite people because we plan to convert them. Through loving friendship, we show Christ to those who don’t know Him. When friends ask questions, we must be honest and trust God will use us as He sees fit in their conversions.

Still, there will be times when following Christ will require relinquishing friendships with some non-Christians, often because of our own weakness. We are not to be unequally yoked and that can include friendships too. When following Christ takes us away from some relationships, we need to remember that He will bring us together in Christian community, in His Church. He will prepare us to present His Gospel to a world that is not starving for knowledge of what tomorrow may bring but for His love today.

Christian Community – Not Just A Catholic Thing

And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.'” (Luke 5:18-20)

Jan luyken's paralytic lowered by frinedsWere I limited to one depiction of Christian community, I’d choose the healing of the paralytic in the fifth chapter of Luke. Jesus sees not just the faith of the paralytic but their faith, the faith of the paralytic’s friends. They work to gain their friend’s healing. When the way is blocked they create a path. Mere building materials can’t interfere with their love. These friends are filled with solid faith which the paralytic needs to reach the One who has the power to heal.

I have not always experienced Christian community in the Catholic Church. Obviously, I believe Catholicism is true or I wouldn’t be Catholic. But Catholicism is as filled with selfish individuals as any other place where humans gather. (Too often, I’m one of them.) It’s so easy to become involved in the forms and forget the people. It’s so easy to write a cheque each week and contribute to parish charities but never get to know the other people in the pew. It’s so easy to be concerned with myself to the exclusion of others. The “Sign of Peace” during Mass can be the only expression of Christian community many Catholics experience.

Fortunately, some Catholics take Christian community seriously. They reach out to others, befriend them, and don’t give up until they have helped their friends reach the One who heals. And fortunately many Christians do the same in many, many churches throughout the world. Their arms are open, ready to embrace others. They carry each others’ burdens — carry each other, when necessary. They don’t give up even when the way is blocked.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.” (John 15:12-17)

This is how the community of believers in Jesus Christ love one another, by daring to get our hands dirty in each others’ lives, by sacrificing for one another. When we are as concerned with our neighbour who sits next to us in church as we are with our own lives, we live the great commission to love one another. That is Christian community. It’s not an either/or proposition — the people and concerns in our lives matter. It’s a both/and experience, making space in our hearts and lives for one more person. Sometimes the tiles we must peel away are not on another person’s roof but in our attitudes and hearts. But because we are heirs through hope of Jesus Christ, every Christian has the ability to peel away those tiles with help from our friends and through the healing power of Christ, and love as Christ loves us.

Heart Of Stone

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.(Ezekiel 36:26)

I wish I could say my heart of stone came solely as a result of what happened to me. Certainly much has happened to me. The constant onslaught of death and abandonment and loss and assault and rape and neglect and isolation and illness were crushing. But I have a fighter’s spirit. I fought back with every talent God gave me. And I fought so well I began to delight in fighting not only to protect myself but sometimes to get back at those who hurt me. I’m not one who seeks simply to take the stick from an attacker. I want to ensure that the attacker will never harm anyone ever again. God has often held me back. Had He not, I would have produced much mayhem.

The vicious onslaught also left me fearing people. There were times when I lied or simply ended contact because I couldn’t be what I thought others expected me to be: because I didn’t have enough money to do all the things someone expected or couldn’t change my faith to please another person or couldn’t continue to expose myself to actions that scandalized me and sent me spinning into flashbacks and phantasms from my past, a past almost none of my friends knew about because I didn’t trust them. Being unable to trust coats the heart with layers of stone.

My pride added additional layers of rock. I knew what I needed and how I needed it. I even set the delivery schedule. Usually, the due date was right now. A dear friend used to tell the attorneys with whom he worked, “You can have it right or you can have it now but you can’t have it right now.” I demanded I be healed right and right now. After all, God can do anything. But He didn’t follow my scripts or my instructions. It baffled me.

heart of stone (1)Fortunately when I was lost God found me and has remained with me. So when I was old enough to hand Him my scripts I was also experienced enough to know that even though God wasn’t following my prescribed plan, I needed to stay with Him. Where else would I go? Chaos is the alternative to God. I knew chaos better than many. I’d lived in the midst of it for eleven years and could not go back. So I continued on but my heart of stone was a heavy ache within my chest.

It felt anger, desire, rage, pride, need, attraction, hunger, pain, and so much more. The dark feelings rumbled around, became fodder for ruminations that piled on more stone. Sometimes happiness touched the edges of my heart but it couldn’t nestle in and make a home. I loved with everything I had but love was always the gift of the moment. It wasn’t the constant I needed because no one really loved me. Most never tried. Those who did never knew me; I could not share my secrets with them. How can there be love without knowledge?

And all the while, God carried me as I kept revising those scripts and waving them before His face. Eventually, He pried the pages from my hands. Ill, frightened, alone, I moved in with a “friend” who told me that if I was really sick I must go because she wouldn’t care for me. Her words triggered my stubbornness and I pushed myself through demanding work while doctors unraveled the illness I suffered. At the same time, I had returned to the Catholic Church and found it different than when I left. People invited me into their lives, invited themselves into mine. Community surrounded me and gently but persistently pulled me in.

One day I awoke in hospital after undergoing major surgery. The smiling face of the woman who had voluntold* my home for a New Year’s Eve party three months before greeted me. Over the next few days, people I barely knew visited. Usually there was no one. And through more treatments and surgeries they continued to come. When I needed to be collected from hospital after an emergency, I was afraid they wouldn’t release me because I had no escort. The woman who voluntold my apartment had told me to call if I needed her. I risked rejection and called. Her bright voice assured me she would be there.

I wanted God to say the black and do the red. He was to just follow my instructions and all would be well. How God must have laughed at me. He knew I could have healing right or I could have it now but I couldn’t have it right now. And I couldn’t have it my way not because God sought to thwart me but because my way wouldn’t work. I needed the gentle sledge hammer of Christian community. It’s been at work on my heart of stone nearly as long as the entire time I spent with the minister and his family. My heart isn’t fully flesh yet and I don’t know when it will be. I do know I can feel it beating at this very moment. Happiness now has an abode in my heart. Others know and love me. I am the luckiest girl in the world because fortunately when I was lost God found me. He never wants me or anyone else to have a heart of stone. His heart was pierced and an ocean of mercy poured out so that our hearts might be made flesh.

* Voluntold is an accurate contraction of volunteer + told

Hope – Five Minute Friday

When everything falls apart,
Your arms hold me together.
When everything falls apart,
You’re the only hope for this heart.
When everything falls apart and my strength is gone,
I find You mighty and strong.
You keep holding on.
You keep holding on. (Fee, Everything Falls)

Beloved,

It’s amazing to me that You kept hope alive in me for so long. You fought despair in me. Part of me wants to ask, ‘How?’ Part of me want to cry. Part of me wants to go down on my knees and simply remain mute in silent joy and gratitude. Retrospect reveals just how desperate I was and how mighty You are.

So many have asked me, ‘Why don’t we see miracles like the ones in the Bible?’ We do. We just don’t know where or how to look for them. We want healing on our terms. Jesus healed the actual wounds and sickness in body and soul; we don’t much want the soul part, not when it requires huge changes. So why should we expect to see miracles when we’ve already decided what healing will look like. Control is just another form of despair: if it’s not healed my way no healing is possible. We refuse to admit that we are desperate for we know not what, that we are pleading with neither words nor understanding and can only say, ‘I hurt.’

hope (1)But hope is reason to hope. I had no reason to expect that things would get worse and worse. In fact, they did. But You kept me hoping, You kept me fighting. You kept some spark alive in me, didn’t allow me to give up. You kept me reaching for the miracle and that very reaching was a continuing miracle. A spiritual director used to tell me that sometimes it’s better to hope than to receive. When hope keeps us alive, keeps us fighting until we are humble enough to be healed, hope is the very best thing there is.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. 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 and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Fear – Five Minute Friday

schnauze“Harry! Jack!” I called from the porch. Waiting for a response I really didn’t expect, I checked the soil in which the mint and herbs are growing to determine if they needed water.

“Huh!” I sighed. The schnauze obeyed me no more today than they had yesterday. I went back inside, grabbed a whistle (I’ve never been able to whistle properly) and blew a blast into the back yard. After a couple of minutes, I sighed again: I’ll have to find them, I mused to God. I can’t shower until they’re back inside. Thankful that I was already wearing shoes, I walked down the steps and began checking behind shrubs and garden furniture for the black and grey dogs. As I came round the corner of the deck, a wide open gate greeted me.

“How is that open?” I asked. “No one uses that gate.”

Quickly, I made my way back inside, snatched up my phone and pocketed my keys. I grabbed two leashes and a bag of treats and made my way out the front door. As my feet carried me down the steps, my fingers were searching for my house mate’s number. A thought breezed through my mind, What if she blames you? You let them out. I ignored it, let it continue on its way.

Living in Christian community is changing me. The monolithic ogre of fear has become like the hairy monster, Rudolph, in Looney Tunes, Water, Water Every Hare. It’s tiny. A good stare sends fear scurrying away.

Not so many weeks ago, I’d have been terrified to inform my friend that her dogs were off roaming the neighbourhood without an escort. Today, fear became concern. Fear lost its power to paralyze me. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll be paralyzed again. But today, the schnauze are home after their great adventure and what would have been overwhelming fear didn’t slow me one bit.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. 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 and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

World – Five Minute Friday

I’ve lived on three continents and seen more of the world than most. Living in other parts of the world provides an education one doesn’t get when everything is familiar. I’ve often shaken my head at wonder that many don’t know that that black and white are only two of many ethnic possibilities, that in some places, class (a/k/a money and deportment) trumps skin colour every time, that in many parts of the world, those with darker skin are considered less desirable but in some, those of lighter skin are less beautiful.

worldStill, there is that which can never be learned traveling the world. The family is the ideal place to lean that when life is just too much, when everything ought to work but fails, when I feel I’m a total disappointment and a burden, those who love me will pick me up, dry my tears and say, ‘I’m here for you. I’m happy to have you in my life. Believe me, it will work out.” Family is where having a meltdown and being weak are opportunities for more love, not less.

But sometimes family isn’t available. Real Christian community can provide the same love. Christian community is not being nice on Sunday and at church events before we go off to our own separate existences. It’s not just asking, ‘How are you?’ and saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ when we hear that things are tough. Sometimes tough consists of the endless days of isolation and loneliness punctuated by Church attendance. Sometimes tough consists of never having the opportunity to give to others. Sometimes tough is not what I need you to give me but what I hunger to give you.

In a moment, I’ll go and transplant my house mate’s herbs — we’re trying to protect the basil by planting it next to some spicy hot oregano. The joy of doing something for a friend is excruciatingly painful — warm water on frozen fingers. It’s not something the world can give me. It’s a people thing. It’s an Acts of the Apostles thing. It’s the place where I can trust enough to reveal myself, including the parts I’ve always hidden because being brave and tough and strong were necessary. It’s the place where I can just relax and be human.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. 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 and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Gift – Five Minute Friday

giftI have been given so many gifts. They’re not enough. I want more; I’ve always been immensely hungry (and still hope to get the biggest gift under the tree.)

I want to give more. No matter how much I give it’s not enough, will never be enough.

Gift is one place where “not enough” is good. I always want to be hungry to receive, hungry to give, hungry to be a gift.

But only God, Himself, is gift enough and what have I to give Him? Myself, yes. But I want to give Him more.

He has given me a childlike faith. I pick “flowers” and give them to Him as we stroll through my life is immense. Often, those flowers are weeds. Those too are a gift for Him.

And for me too.

All of life is gift – the good and the really bad and everything in-between.

May I be a gift to everyone I encounter. May I be worth opening and peeking at and exclaiming over, even a little bit. May I be the kind of gift that surprises and fills hearts with hope and courage and joy.

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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.

Why I Am Catholic

UPDATE – When I write, “I’ve also found error,” I am not referring to error in the Church’s doctrine and teaching but rather error in teaching and living the faith. I expect to find that because the Catholic Church is bursting with sinners just like every other place where humans congregate.

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A new Pew Study has Catholic bloggers writing about why they are still Catholic. Elizabeth Scalia invited Catholic bloggers to share why they remain Catholic. Of course, it never occurred to me that being Catholic was something I could just leave off like giving up wheat because it exacerbates the inflammation in my small bowel. Occasionally I long for bread (mostly to have something to slather with butter). But bread was never something I pointed to and said, “That’s who I am.” Catholicism does define me even though the minister tried to knock it out of me.

I have no memory of a time when Christ was not absolutely real to me. I have no memory of a time when I wasn’t Catholic. After my parents died, when being Catholic was a terrible crime, I clung to my faith. I kept a small, children’s missal and a used copy of “The Song of Bernadette” hidden away. They sustained me from five until ten when I was old enough to sneak out of the house and go to Mass.

behold the Lamb of GodThe summer after the minister’s first wife died, we were sent to a Catholic day camp. Finally I saw Jesus held in the priest’s hand as I rested in the quiet emptiness of the church while the other children played outside. The priest did not allow me to receive Him but my eyes and heart devoured the answer to my unspeakably deep longing. I was starving for Him.

As a child, I saw that the minister’s faith held much good. There were many wonderful people. Some were kinder than many Catholics have been. Certainly, God gave me many gifts through them: the joy of singing from my toes, the experience that sometimes worship includes an “Amen!”, swaying, a raised arm, and copious tears. Most of all, I gained a deep, abiding love of Scripture.

Yet service after service, I sat in a pew and stared at the empty table. It ought not be empty: “This Do In Remembrance of Me.” “This” was so rarely done. And it was only a symbol. (I couldn’t find symbol in the Bible only, “This is…”) Yet there were rules. When some of the unbaptized children ate a bit of cracker or took a tiny glass of grape juice, the minister shouted and behaved as if they had done something horrible. He blamed himself for taking us to the communion service; he had never blamed himself before. All of the children in the house were baptized by month’s end. He even re-baptized me (my baptism in infancy didn’t count). But if “This” was just a symbol, why behave as if “This” was so vitally important?

Eight months after I began university, I was confirmed. When I encountered scandalous catechesis and behaviour, I fled to find the Catholic Church, stumbled into an Anglican parish, and by the time I discovered it wasn’t Catholic, had already begun an inquirer’s course to be received. I had three questions for the curate who taught us:

“What is the Eucharist?” I asked one Sunday.

“It’s the Body and Blood of Christ.”

“That’s okay,” I told my Friend. A few minutes later, I inquired, “Who is the pope?”

“He’s the bishop of Rome, the first among equals,” the curate responded.

“That seems okay,” I mutely told my Friend. As we left the room, I asked the curate one final question, “May I continue believing what I already believe?”

“Of course,” he told me a surprised shrillness in his voice.

“That’s okay too,” I told my Friend. “I can’t stop being Catholic.” (from “Loved As If,” Chapter 5)

In the Anglican Communion, I found Sodalities, perpetual adoration, the Stations of the Cross, Cursillo and other experiences that encouraged me to believe I had found real Catholicism. But priests fell asleep during my confessions. I began recycling my the greatest hits to keep them awake. At one point, I considered making up a few sins but then decided that would be lying. Only one priest listened and helped me work on my pride but he was miles away; I could only see him on rare occasions. I began to wonder what Anglicans considered sin. Sometimes, sin seemed no more than bad taste or being odd.

And then there was the branch explanation. Anglo-Catholics consider themselves one branch of the Catholic Church. But why is there is no communion between the branches? At what point does lack of communion mean a branch is severed? When does lost contact with the source of nourishment cause starvation?

Finally, I began studies for a master’s degree in theology and soon realized I was learning to comment on religion and faith but not coming to know and love God better. Though I love studying, there seemed little purpose in studies that would only fit me to analyze when I hungered to be more like Christ.

Often after Mass, I’d walk the streets of New York telling my Friend, “I must return to the Catholic Church, but how? Where do I go?” One day, the rector of my parish used the name of Jesus. I realized I had not heard him say “Jesus” in six months except when reading Scripture or reciting existing prayers. That realization, more than anything else, relaxed my grip and when God pulled me kicking and screaming from the Anglican Communion, my struggles were less than they might have been. I knew, even if it was filled with the  same errors that had sent me fleeing, I’d only reach holiness if I went back to the Catholic Church.

At a new job, I became friends with a man whose Catholic faith was as foundational as mine. I didn’t know there were other people like me. He was crazy and fun. One day I told my Friend, “If there’s a place in the Church for someone as crazy as him, there must be a place for me. I’m at least as crazy as he is.” A few weeks later, I made a retreat, realized I was old enough to ignore or even shout back at those who tried to ply me with lies, confessed, and returned to the Church.

That was nearly eleven years ago. Since my return, I’ve found orthodoxy as well as everything else I sought. I’ve also found error, haughtiness (including my own), and bad catechesis. One of the things I learned on my detour through the Anglican Communion is that sin exists wherever there are human beings. To avoid sin, to be with people who are truly faithful, I must to leave earth and myself too.

But now the table is filled every day. Jesus is here in tangible form. And I so need Him to be tangible. Hunger exists to be fed and I have an immense hunger for Jesus, for Him to do exactly what He says He does, make Himself present again when we do what He did on Maundy Thursday.

I’ve found confessors who take my small sins as seriously as my whopping ones. And a great, great cloud of witnesses surrounds me and goes before me, along with me (I’m one of them). We are all trying reach heaven, no matter how difficult the journey; some have already made it. “Ultreya!” we cry out to each other. “Forward! Continue!” That cloud of witnesses, that community has brought healing I never hoped to find this side of heaven.

The orphaned waif who lost everything has found identity and family in Christ and in His Church. They go together. This is where I always find my Beloved. This is where I feast on His Body and Blood. This is where I am home because Jesus is truth and He is here. Non-Catholic Christians reach for the same salvation I do and may get into heaven before me, but because the Catholic Church is home, it’s also my best shot for holiness. After much striving and difficulty, I found myself on a solid rock that Christ chose. That is the greatest gift my parents gave me before their deaths. Even when I fled the Church it was to go in search of the Church. Where else would I go?

Blue – Five Minute Friday

blue ridge mountainsThe blue sky against the deeper blue mountain as the sun rose on the second morning of the drive signaled the end of the low-level dis-ease that had haunted me for nearly five years. Those wide open spaces of Houston, so beloved by so many, had been a never-ending, current that shocked me each time I went out. New York City, though chock-full of tall buildings, only required me to avoid looking up. There was no hiding from the wide open spaces of Houston. They went on forever and ever and ever with no amen, no selah, and, except for a few neighbourhoods where I rarely had reason to go, not even the slightest diminuendo. Those endless distances wore me down, heightened my agoraphobia, intensified my sense of isolation, kept me inside far more than was healthy.

But now, the painful current had stopped. I felt my shoulders relax, realized how tense they had been, how painful the uneasiness had become; I could not begin to feel it until it was gone.

Today, I sit on Bridgett’s mid-century modern sofa in her living room that is smaller than my bedroom in Houston and gaze at the dark blue, glass pitcher that lives atop her kitchen cupboard. Another friend from Houston texts to ask me if I am settling in.

“Still settling,” I reply. “But it’s very good to be here. Last night, I slept well for the first time; feeling more and more at home.”

Suddenly tears have pooled in the corners of my eyes. They threaten to spill over. Those words, “at home,” dissolve some barrier in my heart. I’ve needed to be at home for so long, since Marmar and Papa died, since before I was five. How have I lived all this time without home? Only now can I begin to hear the message the blue pitcher tells me: ‘Your hunger, starvation, dis-ease has always been valid. You always knew it, you needed home.’

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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.

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 the stories we call myth and legend. Originally, they 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’ve always been struck by Gilgamesh’s lament when he first realizes he will die. He prays to the god Shamash because he sees the bodies floating in the river; and realizes 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. Death can do that to us.

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 to comfort me, 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.

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