Retraced Lines

This is heart breakingly lovely.

“And you, little lovely one, though you know it not I will not stop my prayers. I will not fret or let my helpless self distract me from full trust. I can do nothing, but thank, and bless, and praise the God who gazes all your days upon you in utter love. By the strength of my thus choosing I shall be open to His using, and at length, leave room for Him, not to efface the crooked lines of your young life, not erase but trace the strife with His bleeding finger, crossing the tangled lines with His cross, to bring about new designs most wonderful. Not the linear austerity of the Roman, nor the expressive angularity of the Benedictine, but blow by agonizing chisel blow shall reveal from gray-black stone the complex, interwoven, knots and swirls of the Celtic, standing in fantastic glory on a bright green hill.”

A Prayer For Healing Memory

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ, please heal my memory and sensibilities so I may remain aware of and live the life You have given me today. Please make my memory and sensibilities able to distinguish between experiences in my past and experiences today. If it is Your will, grant me the ability to use the memory of offenses committed against me in the past to aid in healing those who have been abused and offended as well as those who abuse and offend the little ones whom You love so dearly. And dearest, dearest Lord, please commission me as You commissioned Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta though Your dear Mother to pray and sacrifice on behalf of poor sinners. Amen

Belonging To Jesus

In November 2012, my friend, Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With The Help Of the Saints advised me that the blogger at Falling By Faith had used a portion of a post I originally wrote on my blog, Heirs In Hope. After nearly two years, I’ve finally commented. As Splendid’s Charge so accurately points out, “language is an annoying necessity”: sometimes I must wait for the right words.

Falling By Faith quotes My Peace I Give You:

“Drusilla, a Catholic orphan who was subjected to brutal abuse by her foster father and siblings, felt as a child that she had been ‘thrown to the wolves.’ ‘I had to pretend to be a wolf so as to keep myself from being torn to pieces,’ she writes…. ‘I no longer live with the wolves. I am a cat again and happy to be one. But I have not forgotten my time in a wolf’s skin. At times I still feel shame, feel I deserve to be abused…. But in Jesus’ wounds I remember that the flames burned but never owned me. I belong to Christ and I never want to belong to anyone else.’”

My comment:

I’ve waited nearly two years to comment on your post though Dawn shared it with me back in Nov. 2012. When I say I belong to Christ and never want to belong to anyone else, I’m not saying I don’t want anything else. Rather, I’m saying, my identity, who and what I am, is rooted in Him. Drifting with the wind may seem attractive, but it’s not a great reality. Sometimes I do feel like a member of His SWAT team, willing to go where Christ sends me and do as He asks, but I need all the solid, tangible things that everyone else does.

One doesn’t lose the physical aspect of being human by loving God. At least I haven’t. And I need more than the minimum. Right now, I live in Houston. It’s an uncomfortable place. There is no texture in the landscape. It’s a hodgepodge of mostly mediocre buildings, few human-scaled neighbourhoods, and vast distances that contain very little to delight the senses. I long for NYC, for Paris, for London, for San Francisco. I long for mountains, for hills, for lakes, and for blocks that are short enough so that I feel I’m making progress rather than walking a treadmill surrounded by nothing worth seeing. (Pedestrians are also in short supply.) I hunger for beauty. Houston feels barren. Someday, I hope to leave though I have no idea where I’ll go.

And still, I am His. If Houston is where He wants me to be, and that seems to be the case for now, Houston is where I’ll live. I make my surroundings as beautiful as possible. And I am most attracted to people who are also reaching for heaven and with joy, beauty, thought, and some style.

There have been times when I’ve wanted to want only Jesus. Always, I found myself wanting other things as well. Finally, I realized, that’s the way it is for the dust God made in His image and likeness. In Matt 6:31, Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all the other things we worry about will be added. Wanting the things God has made us to have isn’t the problem. Loving them more than (or instead of) Him is.

He loves for each of us; fills up our deficiencies. And one day, you may wake up and discover Jesus’s love has mysteriously become yours and you belong to Him, totally. It doesn’t mean you will never belong with anyone else. It just means you know you will be no one without Him.

Check The Mirror First

When I’d like to blame God for evil, my own reflection comes to mind. That, and ripples, flowing out, touching other lives. We love to acknowledge how an act of kindness affects others. Can we acknowledge how an act of selfishness or pride or sloth does the same? Exodus 34:6-7 has long seemed to me a statement of fact:

The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

My pride, anger, lust, envy, greed, avarice, and sloth will affect not only me but those I will never see. I will teach others to engage in the sins I commit. I will hurt others by my sins. All of creation will be harmed because I choose to act contrary to God’s will.

Loved As If is chock full of theodicy. How a loving God can allow evil? It’s a valid question. Chaos and evil predate humanity. But, while asking the question, ought we not ask ourselves, “How can I expect my evil actions to have no real consequences? How can my sin not exacerbate chaos and evil?”

One of the mind numbing and soul numbing effects of the politically correct culture we live in is Deniability.  People everywhere are doing horrendous things to other people everywhere and we are not supposed to acknowledge blame.  We’re supposed to buy the excuse that nobody means to do wrong.  It all just happens.  Stuff happens.

Well, mostly no.  Mostly the stuff that happens is people doing bad things to you and you doing bad things to people.  Now, it’s true that when we act selfishly we usually don’t intend the consequences of our actions, but we certainly intend the thing we aim for, and we go for it despite the consequences, despite the harm we cause.

  • A man certainly doesn’t intend to harm his wife and destroy his marriage when he starts cheating; the consequences aren’t what he’s aiming at.  But what he’s aiming at is clear enough.  He means to do what he’s doing.  He knows what he’s after – what it looks like, feels like and smells like and he’s going for it.  To hell with the wife and kids.

Five Minute Friday: Exhale

Push. Push. Inhale. Exhale. Push. Push.

Now, I can’t even write!

Inhale. Exhale.

A sentence. A thought. That’s all in an entire day.

Inhale. Exhale.

I sit before the computer and nothing comes. I know what to write. It’s not writer’s block. It’s like a wall, a tough, rubbery membrane and I can’t get through.

Inhale. Exhale.

Thank You for this. Working out helps. Doing my bar again helps. Riding this bike (it’s really boring, thanks for the Ipod) helps.

Inhale. Exhale.

“How would you know you’ve been healed if you were never tested?” my Friend’s Voice asked.

Huh?

Inhale. Exhale.

How would I?

Inhale. Exhale.

I didn’t think of that.

Inhale. Exhale.

It would be like always rehearsing a dance and never performing.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Lost

Beloved,

I forget to thank You for many things but this morning, something arose and I must stop, and thank You, and probably continue thanking You off and on for some time. I called the pharmacy to refill my prescriptions, worried about the cost, (Could I afford them?) only to be put on hold for a long time while they checked. After a few minutes, someone asked if I had been helped. To my great surprise, I said, “I believe I have been. Thank you.” My voice remained calm, even toned, normal. No defensiveness. No anger because the wait was so long (but really because I was worried).

You first showed me when my thyroid was removed that I could be in great pain, dealing with an unresponsive doctor, and remain calm. It’s taken several years, but that seems to be happening more and more. I’ve lost the automatic “flinch” I learned when the man used to shout at me and hit me and beat me because I was hurting or upset or sick. Please, don’t let me find it again. I don’t want it. Let it remain lost forever. Thank You.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Christian Community

VG35507The scandal of Christianity is that God gets His hands dirty with creation. He jumps right into the midst of us and places Himself in an utterly dependent relationship with us. (Whose more dependent that a baby?)

That’s the model we’ve been given for Christian community. We’re to jump in as God did. It’s messy. It’s difficult. It looks nothing like the images we tend to have in our minds. We must simply jump. That’s the banquet, the great dance. (Of course there’s dancing at the wedding banquet of the Lamb.) Even this side of heaven, the banquet is the greatest party evah!

Excerpt From the Last Chapter: Reaching

“…He isn’t withholding knowledge of Himself out of capriciousness or wrath or cruelty. [It’s simply that] we don’t speak Heaven’s language. We don’t read it. We don’t understand it. We must learn. And first, we must want to learn,” I wrote.

Z exploded again, “‘[W]e must want to learn.’ [B]ut why would we want to learn? [W]hat could possibly set us upon a path towards knowledge and understanding of scripture? [T]he answer, unfortunately for you, is that there is nothing. [T]he wanting to learn presupposes some reason to want to learn. [B]ut having some reason to want to learn presupposes some knowledge. [B]ut having some knowledge is only possible if one wants to learn. [S]o round and round and round we go, until we either vomit or concede that this is a path to nowhere. [W]e only want to learn if we have knowledge, but only have knowledge if we want to learn. [B]ut all this is part and parcel of the christian [sic] blame-the-victim mentality. [I]f only you wanted to learn… [I]f only you would open your heart… [T]he real issue is god’s [sic] existence or his sanity. [O]ne or the other must be absent.”

He believes there is nothing that could set us on a path to learning to be in communication with You. But it’s like what happened with Georg:

Georg read from my book:

“So she was burnt with all her clothes,
“And arms and hands, and eyes and nose;
“Till she had nothing more to lose
“Except her little scarlet shoes;
“And nothing else but these was found
“Among her ashes on the ground.” (1)

“Paulinchin!” I crowed and bounced in my seat. “Papa reads that story to me in German!” Carsten, Georg’s little brother, pressed close to the older boy’s side. “She burned up,” he said softly as his thumb inched into his mouth. “She did!” I bounced again. “She played with matches and danced around the fire and burned up!” I bounced out of my chair and twirled until I fell on the floor in a dizzy heap. When the room stopped spinning, I looked up at Georg, “How do you know what those black marks on the page mean?” “I can read,” he told me. “How?” my voice was a long breathless wonder. “I learned to read in school,” he said definitively.

“When can I go to school?” I asked Marmar. She started back a bit, creases came into her forehead, “When you’re five. I suppose…” I nodded and swaggered off to play with my wooden train.

“And how old are you?” the strange man asked me. I backed myself against Papa’s leg, my eyes opened wide. “How old are you. Lysse?” Papa prompted. “Five,” I held up three fingers. “She’s three,” Papa corrected me. I looked up at Papa, “I’m five.” Papa and the strange man exchanged glances. “She’s three,” Papa told him.

“I’m five!” I ran through the hall singing. “I’m five!” Marmar called me into the sitting room. “Lysse, you know you’re three,” I stood before her clouded face. “I’m five,” I insisted nodding my head. “Why do you keep saying you’re five? You know you’re three,” Marmar used her serious voice. “Because,” I began. “You said I could go to school when I’m five.” Marmar blinked, “Why do you want to go to school?” “I want to learn to read,” I told her. “Read?” she asked, her forehead crinkling. “Georg learned to read at school. I want to know what those black marks in books are.” Marmar pressed her lips together for a moment. Finally she said, “I’ll talk to your Papa. Go play now.” She sent me off with a pat on my bum.

“Lysse, I want you to meet Mara,” a young woman with curly red hair reached for my hand. She was taller than Marmar; red freckles covered her face. I kept my hands behind my back. Marmar lifted me from the floor. She spoke gently, “Mara has come to teach you to read.” I looked at the curly, red haired woman. Her brilliant blue eyes crinkled as she smiled. My eyes widened; my mouth shaped itself into a little smile.

I didn’t know what school was. But Georg was tall and swung me and Carsten around and played with us on the floor. He read the stories only grown ups read. I wanted to learn to read like him. He showed me something new and like a baby learning to crawl or walk, I reached. That’s the way You’ve made us, to reach for more.

Yes we need some knowledge. We must know there’s something out of reach. But we also need the desire to stretch out and grab hold of it. Without that desire, we’re like that poor eight month-old baby whose father left him in the playpen all day as he watched sports. No matter what I tried, he wasn’t interested in anything. He’d sit in his highchair and prop his head on one hand. When one arm tired, he’d prop his head on the other side. I’ve cared for so many babies but never encountered another eight month-old like him.

He opened his mouth and let me spoon food into it. He ate Cheerios one at a time. He didn’t gobble the things he loved or squawk when something odd was popped into his mouth. He was a lump. Oh Beloved, I wish I’d been able to sit for him more often, take him out, play with him. But they didn’t want to spend the money. I do pray You healed him. That baby was not as You’ve made us to be.

1) Heinrich Hoffman, Slovenly Peter or Cheerful Stories and Funny Pictures for Good Little Folks (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, n.d. (1900?), (http://germanstories.vcu.edu/struwwel/pauline_e.html)

Five Minute Friday: Release

Beloved,

You’ve changed me. Really, really changed me.

You know things are tight right now. I’m beginning to feel desperate. I’ve felt that way in the past. Last night, I was tempted to hurt myself. An old memory of hitting myself with a hard, leather belt, the way the man used to hit me, came into my mind. I’ve done it in the past. I’ve been tempted and cried to You for help only to find myself hurting myself in rage and desperation. But last night, I cried out to You for help. I said, “No! I don’t want this. I don’t need it anymore.” I prayed and the temptation left.

How long was I in bondage to obsessive actions? To replaying what was done to me because that’s what I deserved? Because there was no hope for anything more? How often did I tell myself, “Hang on. God have more in store for you?” Last night, I didn’t need to convince myself. All I needed was to cry out to You, to pray, to reject self-destructiveness. You have set me free. You have released me.

Oh, my Lord, I’m free. I’m free.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer and write for 5 minutes and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Fair For Whom?

It’s not enough that I be simply alive, sentient. Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, I must accept “infinitely more than I can ask or imagine.”(1) And that’s always the cross. But like mush, I push the cross away. So God takes me apart and makes me new, makes me able to suffer and sacrifice. He doesn’t limit His faithfulness to that of a provider. He doesn’t just clean my cage and give me fresh food and water. He is faithful to His original plan. And His faithfulness has made me faithful to Him even though “I’m not like other people. I can’t stand pain. It hurts me”(2)

It’s not fair. The question is, fair for whom? Fair for me or fair for God? He makes man in His image and likeness, able to become like Him, and Adam and Eve choose to listen to a sea serpent. Yes, Adam is scared and Eve is tempted but they didn’t just spill the milk. They rejected their Creator. They shattered their relationship with Him. Nor did they admit their transgressions. Nor did they seek forgiveness. And when I’m honest, I must admit, I’m just like our first parents.

It was never wrong to want my family. Anything else would be unnatural. But I picked at the wound in my heart and made my pain worse. I made Marmar and Papa idols. Parents model God for their children, so that’s normal — for a child. But I continued idolizing them as an adult, long after I knew that anything and anyone could be an idol. I wanted them safe in my idol cupboard. They were my household gods. It never even occurred to me until I began writing this final chapter that I enthroned Marmar and Papa as my saviours, as gods, just like Andrew enthrones himself and his friends.(3) And just as Andrew kills his only friend, Jonathan, so that he might become a god, I used my wounds and my loss as an excuse to engage in some version of every one of the seven deadly sins. My culpability may have been less because of the wounds I’d suffered; that’s between me and my confessor and God. But in the imagination of my heart, I made them more than they could ever be and used my imaginings to harm others.

I begged for a world no bigger than I could imagine. It was too little. too little for me, too little for Marmar and Papa. By insisting that I could only be happy by having those two people, I made them more important than God. My heart became smaller. My ability to love decreased. Often, I couldn’t even see love, couldn’t trust love, couldn’t accept love. Love was an irritant, always reminding me of what I lost, an irritant that even limited my ability to accept God’s love.

1) Ephesians 3:20 (NAB)

2)  Looney Tunes, The Abominable Snow Rabbit (Warner Bros. 1961)

3) Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7 (will add correct episode info)

Stop CISPA
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