what if you lost everything, including yourself?
Loved As If is a triptych, a three part story that reveals the masterpiece God has made of suffering in my life. It is written from inside my experiences using memory vignettes to paint the story. Panel One, Orphaned Waif, covers the years between almost five and twenty-one, when I found myself living in a highly irregular, brutal and abusive foster care situation until the day Jesus revealed how He had always cared for me and had never abandoned me. Panel Two, Always Reaching, covers the years I spent looking for my family, my deepening relationship with God, and how God taught me that, Why me? was the wrong question. Panel Three, A Place Called Home, tells the story of my return to the Catholic church and the Christian community that healed me when I was convinced pain was the cross I must simply pick up and carry. Loved As If is a story of divine love and miracles in the midst of great suffering and evil.
I …locked myself in the bathroom. “I have to be alone with You,” I told my Friend as I bent over the sink to splash water on my face. I looked at my wooden face in the mirror. Suddenly, my mouth broke into an ugly, wide grimace. I shrugged. Tears burst out but the hard place remained. I tried to cry harder, to release the well in my heart but could not budge the stoniness. “I’m not really crying, am I?” I queried my Friend. The tears that were not tears subsided. “You are going to New York.” My head whipped around so quickly my glasses went flying. There was no one to be seen. I picked up and replaced my glasses. Still, the sound echoed through the room, bounced off the white tiles and pale green walls, rang within my heart. I looked at my face in the mirror again. My forehead crinkled, “God?” The voice spoke again, “You were happy once. You will be happy again.”
Loved As If is the story of loss, the story of my search for healing, and the story of how God kept His promise that I would be “happy again.”
IMAGE: The Harrowing of Hell is the depiction of Ephesians 4:8-10: Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” It depicts Christ’s descent to the dead to lead captive souls to freedom after the crucifixion.
Though I did my best to hide it, I lived in hell from the day my parents were killed until just a few years ago. Jesus stayed with me and prepared me to accept freedom. Finally, He pulled me out through the love of extraordinary, ordinary people. Today, He pulls me a bit farther each day from the gaping maw that once engulfed me, again, usually through the love of other people. Christ is with us in every hell others cast us into, every hell we create for ourselves, every hell we believe inescapable; we are more ruthless with ourselves than God is. He always offers us freedom if we let Him. There is no hell too deep for God.