Category: Healing

Worth Something – Assignment 6

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Even the painful things are worth something

“He used to say, ‘I’m doing the best I can,'” I said staring at the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows above Dr. Vogwall’s head.

“Was he?”

“I never thought so before,” I sighed looking down. “But now…” My eyes returned to the icon.

“Yes?”

“His best was deficient, but it would still be his best.” I longed to press my face into the folds of Mary’s blue mantle.

“It would,” Dr. Vogwall said.

Mary’s eyes encouraged me to say more.

“If it was his best,” a tear threatened to spill onto my face. I sniffed it away. “If he did his best,” I sniffed again, “no matter how deficient, it’s worth something. Don’t you think?”

“What do you think?”

I took in a deep breath, “I think it must have some value.”

“What does that look like?”

“I don’t know.” I scratched my head and glanced up again at Mary, “Must I be able to quantify it in some way? Isn’t it enough to know there was value even if I can’t delineate it?”

“We’ve talked about the problems with abstractions,” he sighed.

“Yes. I need to be able to see reality.” A tear ran down my cheek, splashed onto my charcoal grey skirt leaving a tiny damp spot that slowly disappeared in the knitted wool. “He saved my life.”

“Tell me about that.”

“He interfered.  When I kept trying to kill myself, he distracted me.”

“Brutally,” Dr. Vogwall said.

I nodded my head, “I was taking more and more pills. Eventually, I’d have succeeded,” I sighed. “I was so busy fighting him, I forgot about killing myself.”

“You weren’t willing to let him do the job?”

“Precisely!” I sat up straight in the chair. “I could kill myself but I’d be damned if I let him destroy me.” My eyes sought the tears on Mary’s face, “He engaged my stubbornness subroutine,” I said in a small voice. “That’s worth something.” More tears tracked down my cheek. I lowered my eyes to Dr. Vogwall’s, “Fighting him, I learned to fight myself. That’s worth a lot.”

“You think that came as a result of him doing his best?”

“I think his best was absolutely crazy and exactly what I needed.”

“But he didn’t know,” Dr. Vogwall replied.

“So?” I asked. “I get credit for so many things I do thoughtlessly or instinctively. Everyone does. Shouldn’t he?”

“Should he?”

“Yes,” my head nodded in agreement. “If I get credit, he should too.”

“So the cruelty doesn’t matter?”

“Of course it matters. It was horrible. But things can be horrible and necessary at the same time.

“Dr. Vogwall, I would be dead if not for him. He saved my life and,” my face crumpled, tears flowed, “I’m grateful to him for that.” My hand flew up, covered my mouth but the words had already escaped. “I never thought I’d say that.”

“Do you think he wanted to save your life?”

“No, he wanted to control me, to own me. But it’s like Joseph’s brothers — the minister meant it for evil but God meant it for good — my good.” I sniffed and wiped away tears. “I wish he had taken it for his good too.”

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Assignment: In words and/or images, compose a piece grounded in the possibility, distant as it may be, of hope and reconciliation.

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All Along You Were Trusting Me – Assignment 3

Beloved,

Rage. That was the worst thing. Seeing Grandpère murdered was brutal but the rage that flooded my soul was worse. Ditto Ti Eduardo’s murder. And being raped. And Marmar’s and Papa’s murders. And the neglect and abuse by the minister and his family. And all the abandonment. None of that compares to the rage.

I have so much rage. Rage against myself, I tried to commit suicide so many times. Rage against others, I tried to kill the minister.

He survived only because Charles was inept. Had I been old enough to get drugs, he would have died. But all I could do was use my voice and words to convince Charles to kill his father. When he stirred the contents of the capsules into the milk, I assumed it was a lethal dose. What does a nine year-old know? I was so full of arrogant rage, I would make the horror end.

And all along You were trusting me. Me!

All along You were trusting me to bring my heart with it’s huge load of arrogant rage to You and let You heal me. I deserved to be zapped out of existence. I’m dangerous. Look at the way I treated that security guard. He said I called him ‘a leech, a lowlife, and a non-entity.’ I didn’t call him any of those things but I made him feel that way. He crossed the line and I crushed him.

I ought to have loved him. You love me so much. I ought to have loved him even though he was being a jerk.

When Jesus is in our handsNow You have me praying for the soldiers who murdered Grandpère and Ti Eduardo. Last week, I wanted them dead. Today, I pray but I’m not trustworthy. The arrogant child who wanted the minister dead, who wanted the soldiers and whoever murdered Marmar and Papa to die still lives within me. She’s old enough to know murder is wrong but there are other ways to annihilate people. (Remember Cade?) On some future tomorrow, I will probably try to annihilate someone else. And You will still be trusting me.

You take immense risks. That’s the way You are. This is part of Your plan. This is You putting Yourself in my hands letting me choose whether to crucify You or be crucified beside You. I hate pain!

(This does make beautiful, horrible sense. You get us to love the unlovable by using what You’ve given us. You use the curiosity that has helped me survive in this crazy world. And You make me indebted to murderers and abusers because praying for them leads me to love them in ways I would never imagine.)

You shouldn’t trust me.

Please. I may not be curious about whether an enemy will see me in their children’s eyes. I may go on fuming about some slight and not attend to You showing me how I was rude and annihilating. I’m not worthy of Your trust. The ugliness in my soul is the same ugliness in the world; I so want to make the world in my image. And I only want the salvation of those who cross the line when You hold my feet to the fire. You are not safe in my hands.

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The assignment is to write about something that is both beautiful and horrifying, sustaining and devastating.

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R is for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Caroline stopped scrubbing the sink and asked, “Why are you limping?”

r is for rheumatoid arthritisI leaned against the counter and handed Jenna my bag. “My ankles are swollen,” I replied using my right quadriceps to slightly raise my foot and show her the angry red joint. “They both hurt but I can’t even stand on this one.”

A wince overspread my face as I lowered my toe back to the floor.

“Let me help,” Jenna said.

“You’re too young to have arthritis,” Caroline said as Jenna supported me while I hopped over to a chair.

“What?” I ejaculated and bumped my ankle. “Damn!”

“You’re too young. My mother has arthritis. You’re just a kid.”

I sighed.

“Rheumatoid arthritis attacks young women,” Jenna told her. “Your mother probably has osteoarthritis.”

“Do you hear yourself? Attack! Why would your body attack you?” Caroline lit a cigarette then put the kettle on to make another cup of coffee.

Jenna helped me rest my feet on another chair then replied, “That’s what actually happens with autoimmune diseases. The body attacks itself.”

“It doesn’t make sense that your body would attack you,” Caroline said. “You’re body is made to be whole.”

Lord? I silently pleaded.

“And this is a fallen world,” I replied aloud. “There’s illness and accidents and death.”

Caroline thumbed through a paperback book that no longer had a cover. Looking up at me she said, “Every day you should repeat, ‘My mind and body are in perfect balance. I’m a harmonious being.'”

Jenna’s mouth opened. I shuddered.

“That’s how you’ll heal your body,” Caroline.

I huffed out a loud breath.

“W-W-What good is that?” Jenna sputtered. “She needs a doctor.”

“I’m never sick,” Caroline said.

Another huff escaped. “You had the flu last month?” I said in a shrill voice. “You were so sick, I took care of you and the girls.”

“That’s not sick, sick,” Caroline replied. “Nothing like rheumatoid arthritis.”

Please? I mutely begged my Friend.

“Affirmations are words. Good words,” I said. “But you actually have to do something to reap the benefits.”

“You think you’re so smart,” Caroline said. “I know some things.”

Again, my head shook of it’s own accord.

“What makes you so rigid?” Caroline asked., her nose wrinkled as if she smelled something distasteful.

Another loud sigh escaped.

“Reciting some magic words won’t make this go away,” I said. “Eating better, more dance classes, more sleep, following my doctor’s instructions — those work. Positive thoughts help me feel better but they’re not magic.”

“Then you’ll just be sick,” Caroline retorted.

My head shook again.

“I’ll help you upstairs.” Jenna said.

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N is for Nightmare’s At An End

Comes a moment when light shines and the nightmare’s at an end
When shadows fail and wounded hearts rejoice to see the dawn
Comes a moment of laughter and our spirits sing with joy
When Love shows Love is stronger than our fears

Beloved,

n is for nightmare's endDawn has come but I’ve only got the beginning. I’d like to have the whole song. But the nightmare’s at an end, isn’t it? And doesn’t that deserve a glorious song?

I get whole days when my heart doesn’t hurt. Everything is richer, clearer, brighter. Colour is more colourful — the blue in the sky flirts with me, asks to be touched. Trees and grass smell green — the way it did when I met the cow. That was a dream or so I imagined. It seemed so far away. Now, it’s all around me.

A Grief Observed comes to mind.

The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.

Either way, we’re for it.
What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?
Maybe the nightmare’s at an end but I’m still for it. Maybe the song won’t be finished for a while: dawn isn’t noon. But I know the sun has risen. I know laughter and joy. Just keep me close to You, Beloved. Just keep me close. We both know me, how impatient I am, how I hate suffering and think I’ve payed my dues in that area. If You must continue to cut, keep me close else I create a new nightmare.

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L is for Learning to Live With Myself

“You’re almost an adult now,” Caroline was admonishing Farrah as I walked into the kitchen to get yoghurt. “You’ve got to make time for your studies as well as your job. I know you want money but your studies come first. Ask your father for money.”

l is for learning to live with myselfThirteen year-old Farrah exhaled a long, huffing breath and then responded, “My job doesn’t interfere. I just forget and then there’s not time to do everything.”

“Then ask Mel for help,” Caroline said glancing over at me. “Mel, you’re good at math.”

“W-e-ell,” I stuttered. “Yes. But Farrah’s good too. She’ll figure it out.”

“You’d better get it figured out soon,” Caroline told her. “I don’t have time to deal with these letters. Why doesn’t they just give you detention? That’s what they did when I was in school.”

Farrah and I shared a quick glance.

“They don’t give detention when someone hasn’t finished their homework,” Farrah told her mother.

“They should,” Caroline replied. “Why do I pay taxes if they don’t do their jobs?”

My eye brows lifted. I pulled them down before Caroline saw them.

“You have to fix this,” Caroline told Farrah, “or you’ll have to give up your job.”

Farrah emitted a little squeal, “That’s so not fair,” she said. “I get straight A’s in nearly every subject and I’m getting a B+ in math.”

“I mean it,” Caroline said. “I don’t want letters from your school. I have enough to do.”

Farrah and I traded another glance.

“I have to do things I don’t want,” Caroline continued. “I want to go out for a drink after work or to a gallery but I come home to make dinner.” She turned to me, “I’m sure Mel makes herself do things she doesn’t want to do.”

Does she know what she’s saying to her daughter? I mutely inquired of my Friend. She’s keeps telling her that she doesn’t want to care for them.

“Mel, you have to do things you don’t want to, don’t you?” Caroline prodded.

My eyebrows raised again; I pulled them back into place. “There’s not much I do that I don’t want to do,” I replied. “And I don’t know what that has to do with anything.” I looked into Farrah’s eyes, “You want to do your math, true?”

“Yes,” Farrah nodded. “I just forget.”

“I suffer from that disease,” I said. “I’ve been learning to live with myself.”

Farrah’s forehead ruffled.

“I don’t use direct deposit anymore because I realized I’m better if I hold the cash in my hands,” I said. “Direct deposit gives me a number and it’s not real. With cash I see the amount I have for bills and expenses and the amount I can use for whatever I like.”

Farrah’s head was still ruffled.

“The cash tells me I have fifty dollars to spend on books,” I explained. “Otherwise, I’d spend two hundred dollars and have to eat ramen until I got paid again.”

“That won’t help Farrah,” Caroline said. “She should just give up her job and get money from her father.”

“I don’t want to ask him for money,” Farrah told her. “I can earn my own money.”

“What if you do your math first?” I suggested. “Then it’ll be out of the way.” My head tilted on one side, I perused Farrah for a moment. “You’ll read no matter what,” I said.

“Maybe” she nodded.

“That’ll just make some other subject a problem,” Caroline interjected.

I shrugged. “All I know is by learning to live with myself rather than remake myself, life is a lot easier. I get the things done I need to do and, thus far, haven’t stopped doing the things I was already doing.”

“Adults don’t do it that way,” Caroline insisted. “Adults make themselves what do adult things.”

My face felt hot. I took a deep breath and shrugged one shoulder, “Then I’m not an adult.” The heat in my face lessened. “Forcing myself never worked. I’d still forget. Learning to live with myself just works better. It works. It’s practical.”

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J is for Just So You Know

“Just so you know,” Liam said as I closed my music notebook. “I’m not convinced.”

I laughed, “If a couple of scones, a dirge, and a Bossa Nova setting for the Sanctus was enough, I’d open Conversions Я Us.”

j is for just so you know“If you’re not trying to convince me, why do you bother?” he asked.

“At first, I did want to convince you. I was flattered that you asked me about my faith. You ask serious questions. I wanted to answer them,” I replied.

Liam opened his lips to speak but I rushed on before he could voice the first word, “But early on, you told me, ‘Your God is either cruel beyond measure or insane. How could it be otherwise?’ It took a while but eventually I realized that I can’t convince you.”

“You can’t,” he said. “You make up stories about God and suffering — like my sister did.”

“No” I replied. “But I did realize that you can’t see what I see, what she saw.”

Liam articulated each word with precision, “You see nothing. She saw nothing. You just comfort yourself with lies.”

“Six years ago, I’d have insisted you were wrong.” I shook my head, “But not now.”

“Because you know I’m right,” he replied.

“Because I know that it won’t work to tell you you’re wrong,” I said. “I can tell you how I’ve changed. I can show you that my writing is no longer full of wistful longing for halcyon days. I can play joyful music, tell you about the series of songs I’m working on, or my design projects. You can see my face go all red and excited because I’m teaching sewing and design or because I’m studying math. You can come to dinner every week and hang out with my friends who are so close, they’re family. But none of that matters…”

“You’re right about that,” Liam blushed and blurted out, “I’m glad you’re happy. Glad you’re off the pain medicine. You were so loopy.” He blushed again, “I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay. I know what you meant. And none of that means God isn’t cruel.”

“Your God let you suffer for years, only now are you happy. And even though you’re happy, you’ve still got problems.”

“True,” I nodded. “You see my suffering and your sister’s suffering as examples of God’s cruelty or insanity.” Our eyes met and I smiled, “You did call Him insane.”

“He is either cruel or insane.”

“You can’t see any reason God allows suffering,” I said. “The good that comes just doesn’t outweigh the pain.”

“God knows the suffering we’d undergo, that we’d visit on each other,” Liam replied. “He could prevent that. Only a cruel or insane God would allow cancer, child abuse, terrorism.”

“There are those who’d say, ‘Only a cruel or insane person would experiment on animals.'” I replied. “But you do and you’re neither.”

“I treat my animals humanely,” Liam said. “God isn’t humane.”

“God doesn’t follow our idea of humane,” I replied. “You don’t follow PETA’s idea of humane. And if they could reason and speak, your animals might agree with PETA, not you.”

“They’re mice. Bred for the lab. That’s they’re purpose,” Liam asserted.

“We’re God’s. Made for a purpose,” I said.

“So you say,” Liam insisted, “but where’s your proof?”

“That’s just it,” I retorted. “You have a preconception of God, how He acts or ought to act. If He is good, there’d be no suffering. You can’t imagine that suffering might be a good thing even though you cause your lab animals to suffer.”

“My animals are treated humanely,” Liam repeated.

I breathed took in a deep breath and relaxed my shoulders. “I know you treat them as humanely as possible. They still don’t live as animals naturally live. They’re not even pets. They’re manipulated.” I smiled wryly, “That’s suffering. To live in a cage and not be able to run and hide or move about and use muscles that were made to climb is suffering. It’s horrible to be thwarted.”

Liam’s shoulders stiffened, his fists clenched. “What would you suggest?”

“Me?” I asked, my voice squeaky. “That you continue your research, You’re doing good things.”

“Then I’m not cruel,” he retorted. “But God is.”

“That’s what I mean: you don’t see what your sister and I see,” I replied. “And I can’t open your eyes.

“PETA doesn’t see that your research is so important, experimenting on animals is necessary. I see it. You see it. But they don’t.”

“You mean you see God isn’t cruel but I don’t,” he smirked.

“Yes,” I answered. “And there’s nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. God will have to do that.”

“Maybe a blinding light,” he smiled.

“If that’s what you need,” I replied. “Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to find ways to say what I mean.” I nodded at him, “You encourage me to do that. I really believe that you want to know if God is cruel or insane or something else, something immensely good.”

“You believe He’s the latter,” Liam said.

“Yes.”

“Why are we friends?” he asked.

“You don’t have to agree with me for us to be friends,” I told him.

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E is for Earth is Earth

“Who would do such a thing?” Caroline demanded of me. She stooped next to the console table that held her stereo sweeping up bits of broken pottery from a small blue and white porcelain plate. The stereo was gone.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Someone broke into the house,” she told me as she chased down the remaining shards.

“How awful!” I replied. I glanced through the kitchen at the back door. “Where’d they break in?”

Caroline stood up and pushed heavy red waves of hair off her face, “I left the door unlocked so the girls could get in.”

E is for earth is earthThank You, I mutely told D’Abby. As much as I loved the dark polished floors and gilded furniture, I was thrilled to have moved into an apartment that though it required renovation had locked doors.

Sneaker clad footsteps sounded in the hall overhead. Farrah clomped down the steps as she announced, “My TV’s gone. Adhita’s boom box and camera are missing too.” She halted in the dining room doorway, “Ma! Why didn’t you just lock the door?”

“You girls lose your keys. I get sick of you breaking the windows.” Caroline espied more pottery shards and bent to corral them.

Thank You, I prayed again.

“Who’d do such a thing?” Caroline demanded looking up at me.

“Burglars,” I told her with a shrug.

“But why would burglars come into my house?” she asked.

My initial response remained unvoiced, Because the door was unlocked. I said, “That’s what burglars do,” Farrah nodded in agreement.

“I need my things,” Caroline whined. “I don’t have money to replace them.”

“Burglars rob poor people too,” Farrah said. I shrugged in agreement. “We should just lock the door,” she added.

“When I was a girl…” Caroline began.

Farrah interrupted her, “You never locked your doors. No one ever broke in.”

“That’s right,” Caroline told her. “That’s the way a neighbourhood is supposed to be.”

Farrah eyes caught mine. I let out a low, controlled sigh.

“Ma,” Farrah answered. “We don’t live in the country. We live in New York. There are projects four blocks away.”

“I shouldn’t have to lock my door. We’ve never had any trouble before.”

Farrah sputtered. My eyes widened.

“I thought you’d been robbed twice in the past,” I blurted.

“Well, yes…” Caroline began.

“And didn’t you rent to that man who was wanted for burglary and rape? Wasn’t he convicted?” I demanded of her.

“Yes,” Caroline admitted and then brightened, “But he didn’t rob us.”

I quashed a snort.

“Burglary was his job,” Farrah told her. “He didn’t work at home.”

Caroline looked up at me. I nodded.

“It’s earth,” I told her.

“What do you mean, ‘it’s earth’?” she insisted. “You say that but I never know what you mean.”

I released a sharp sigh. “Neighbourhoods aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. There are burglars and children who lose their keys and unlocked doors. So bad things happen.”

“But I didn’t do anything to the robber,” she whined.

“Robbers rob,” Farrah replied. “They don’t say,” she continued in a low, hollow register, “‘I won’t rob Caroline and her kids because they’re good people.'” Her voice returned to its accustomed contralto, “They look for houses that are easy to rob and just steal.”

“But I’m a Christian,” she insisted.

My forehead wrinkled. My head shook, “It doesn’t work that way.”

“Ma,” Farrah interjected. “Robbers don’t care if we’re Christian.”

“They should!” Caroline seemed about to stamp her foot. Farrah and I exchanged another glance.

“You mean everybody else gets robbed?” I asked. “But Christians get a free pass?”

“Why not? What good is that… What do you call it?” She waved the broom in the air as if she could sweep the words onto her tongue. “Abundant life,” she nodded. “What good is it if there’s no abundance?” She held the broom and dust pan before her like a sword and shield.

“You only get abundant life if earth is earth,” I said. “When some stranger has invaded your home and your stuff is gone, abundant life means the losing doesn’t define you. Mistakes don’t define us. God does. And you know you’ll be okay because Christ holds you and the whole, crazy world in His hands.”

“I want my stuff,” Caroline insisted.

“I’m sorry your stuff was stolen,” I replied. “It’s horrible. Why not call the police?”

“They’re no help,” Caroline said. She shook her head. “I need to make dinner,” she said carrying the broom and dust pan to the cupboard. “Why don’t you stay?”

“Sure,” I replied.

Help her D’Abby, I prayed.

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Quiet – Five Minute Friday

O GOD of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer)

Pray For A Quiet MindNearly 18 years ago, I stopped looking for my family. I was banging my head against a brick wall trying to find a relative who wanted me in his or her life. My head ached from the stress of finding just one cousin, one aunt, one uncle, anyone. I heard His Voice ask, ‘Can you be happy without knowing any more?’ And I responded, ‘Yes.’ He is my very best Friend. He condescended to befriend me had remained with me and brought me through hell. I knew I could be happy as long as He is with me. And my head did ache so badly. So I worked to quiet myself and develop confidence. Over and over I prayed the collect for a quiet mind. Years later, occasional chatter appears in my heart but attention to my Friend quiets me.

Fast forward to yesterday when I was reading the biography of the new Bishop for the Personal Ordinariate in the USA of which I’ve been a parishioner for some times. I had heard his name pronounced “Lopes” as in “hopes” but for some reason, that didn’t seem right. He doesn’t seem Brazilian. Yesterday, I learned Bishop Lopes is half Portuguese. His name is pronounced, “Law-pez.” I read more eagerly only to discover a few sentences later that Bishop Lopes’ father had emigrated from Portugal to the “vibrant Portuguese community” in northern California. <Timer Rings>

All at once it struck me. Whenever I’ve been asked, “Why northern California?” I had no response, was left confused — it didn’t seem a reasonable choice. Perhaps my parents had spun a globe and randomly chosen a haven for me. But in one paragraph, their choice suddenly made sense. They sent me to my mother’s people. They may not have known me and when my parents were killed, I wasn’t raised by them. In fact, I didn’t know there was a Portuguese community all around me, our paths didn’t cross. And I’ll probably not know this side of heaven, if they had emergency plans to have me cared for by someone in that community, plans that were thwarted. But I do know that my parents chose a place where there were people like me. I know their choice was an act of love and care.

That knowledge brings a new quiet and a new happiness to my heart. My dearest, dearest Friend has provided me an opportunity to know my parents and myself a bit better. How fortunate I am that when I was lost, He never let me go.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),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.

Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/source/overcomeroutreach.com

Time – Five Minute Friday

rageIt only takes one time. Just one time. And then it’s awakened. Rage. A bigger rage than any child can fathom. The desire to destroy, the desire to rend, the desire to annihilate… One molestation, one rape, one instance of sexually abusing a child unleashes forces no child ought ever experience.

Rage is for hell. Rage is for the self absorbed. God did not make a child’s heart for rage.

Sometimes friends post images of molesters being punished in horrible ways. Sometimes they make excruciating statements about what ought to happen to child rapists. Those hurt the victims. Such images and comments beckon the rage that we work so hard to keep under control. They take us back to the desire we must fight, that we must allow God to fight within us.

We were never created to do horrible things to others, even when we’ve been shattered by their actions. We don’t need more insanity. We need to know that we haven’t been made crazy by what has been done to us. The only hope is forgiveness and that takes prayer and work and time and an enormous amount of grace. We need to mark the debt paid because those who have hurt us can never undo or repay. We need to let the sins committed against us be washed away by the Blood of the Lamb.

Lock up abusers. Stop them. But don’t delight in harming them. Don’t be like them. And please, don’t tempt those of us who have been weakened to nail those who have abused us to the crosses their sins have placed upon our shoulders.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),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.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rage.jpg

First (The Christmas Card I Wanted To Write)

“[S]eek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

God reveals the beauty in us.

Pieta, The C.1498 Buonarroti, Michelangelo (1475-1564 Italian) Marble Sculpture St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

First, it hurts. Like warm water on frozen fingers. Like Michelangelo chipping away at a block of marble because he knows the Pieta or David is within. Chip. chip. Chip. God is plying his little hammer and chisel. First, it hurts.

Then I remember that first, my parents gave me to God in baptism and entrusted me to His care.

And first, I chose to risk my life on the belief that He really meant, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” If that promise is a lie, then all the other firsts are meaningless.

And first, He has always made it possible for me to withstand the chiseling and so I remain and let Him work. He loves me. I know that. There is no why. I’m not worthy. There is only love.

And first, there are my friends who share in community I hoped for but could never really imagine. They’re the biggest surprise. They wait with me as God warms my frozen flesh and brings me back to life. They wait as He chisels away. They wait in expectation even when I can’t turn my eyes in hope that there is something glorious in me that He is releasing. They wait even when I can’t find words to say “thank you” for loving me. So I will wait with them. I will have faith in their faith.

First, it’s a glorious new year.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),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.

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