an odyssey: year 5, day 364.

One of my favourite past times while sitting up in my cot was playing with the early morning light on my hands that snuck through the slats of my blind. I played and cast shadows as my mind wandered. My roommate gave a cough. She was another friend on the mend who’d recently arrived and been mended after a nasty relationship left gaping claw marks in her chest. She resettled and I went back to playing with the light, my mind wandering to thoughts of You and how far my journey had unfolded since I’d arrived.

After years now, I’d had the chance to observe You in various harrowing scenarios. I’d had the chance also to build my own history with You.

Oh in those days how I didn’t know what to make of You. I was always keen on having people figured out, but You I just couldn’t unpuzzle. I scoff at my skepticism of Your intentions now. Not for a moment in all these years – never once – has Your character faltered.

No matter the amount of times I tried to catch You

trip You up

screamed at and became combative with You when I was in a state of pain and despair and delusion..

No matter the amount of times I watched You warily as You approached my bed side with a treatment

No matter how many times You found me wandering down the middle of city streets at 4 in the morning..

You stayed gentle, spoke the truth of my conditions softly with me. When I hurt You, You were quick to forgive me when I apologized. You spoke kindly to me, and didn’t hold my relapses against me.

Another cough from my roommate, this time wet and crackly. I snapped out of my memories and swung my feet out of bed and into my slippers on the floor by the side of my cot. I made haste to her bedside where now she had started to choke in her sleep. I ripped back the covers and could see a deep crimson stain spreading across the front of her night gown in the faint morning light. I bolted across the room to the blind and flung it wide to let the sun in.

“LORD, Come quick!!”

You were already by her side by the time I turned back around from the window. After some minutes of Your working over her, she quietly resettled and resumed her sleep as if never perturbed. You pulled her blankets back over her after reassessing Your work, tucking them in around her. Looking up and catching my gaze, You offered Your hand to me and I took it. We stepped out into the hall and You linked my arm through Yours as You pulled the door closed behind us with a soft click. We proceeded silently down the sun lit corridor to the examination rooms.

There was not a soul that sought Your sanctuary that You would turn away. You would take every wounded that managed to clamber or get carried to Your front door. Sometimes, You would go out and come back in carrying someone.

Regardless of who that someone was, all the people here would respond to You differently at first. Each had been badly wounded by different life circumstances, and it was fascinating and sometimes quite sad to see how the patients would treat each other. But still, You’d mend them and watch over them. I think about a year into recovery I realized the way You watched over them wasn’t just to mind they’re progress, but You genuinely loved each one. It was mind boggling. Especially since always at some point in the relationship that patient had to choose to fully trust that You were who You said You were. That part was always difficult to observe as a bystander. I wanted to shake the people who didn’t know You like I did when they would turn Your care that they desperately needed away. But You would never force them to stay. A sanctuary was a place of peace and protection for those who desired to stay, but I realized over time that if people were not here by their own accord it would be more like a prison. So strange that a place of such beauty like this could be considered a prison. But then I remembered how terrified I was when I was in fits of pain and delusion.

I’d learned over the years that there’s some mysterious aspects to Your nature, but it’s people who throw me into confusion about who You are. I’ve had to learn to be careful.

I used to know about You from others, but what my heart really longed for was to know You. Personally. Intimately. You are the best authority on Your own character after all.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/25/2017]

 

 

an odyssey: year 5, day 363.

I’m realizing that Your hospital isn’t such a daunting and clinical place. After the years I’ve stayed here, I’m starting to realize it’s actually more akin to a sanctuary. It’s when I venture back out into the world without You, forgetting and abandoning what I’ve known of Your character, that I run into trouble. But inevitably evil wounds me in such a way that leads me to remember You and Your loving skill with mending.

You’re not cold, clinical, and distant like they portrayed You to be. I once vehemently believed You were. I think often people forget that our story started with me despising, resenting and running from You. But in my time with You I had the opportunities to watch You work on others, pouring all Your concentration into the patients in distress on the table in front of You. That grimace on Your face that I once confused with a grimace of disdain and disgust now has context and is better understood from an onlooker’s perspective. It wasn’t disdain and disgust, it was a grimace of genuine concern – one that knew that this work You were doing would be the deciding factor between life and death. And You knew that in their disoriented state, these patients were combative because they thought the pain You were causing was torture instead of resetting bone, removing shrapnel, stitching up gaping wounds and dealing with ravaged tissue. You knew they might not understand for a long time, but still You saved their lives anyways.

Maybe I would’ve seen it more clearly if I hadn’t been trying to claw and beat Your hands away when You were tending to my wounds on the table for the first time. I’d just been through the worst thing possible to my mind and after snippets of stories about You, I had known only fear of You. At one time I thought kindly of You, but I couldn’t reconcile what I had been through with my unknowingly shallow understanding of who I thought You were. Still as my hands clawed through the air searching for Your face, You skillfully dodged and kept working. You knew that I didn’t know what I was doing. You forgave me anyways.

I was comatose for a few months. I knew somewhere in my consciousness that I wasn’t alone in my room. Somehow I felt You there. I sometimes heard other patients too. You’d come visit me, check in on how I was doing. You always knew exactly what we all needed and exactly what pace we all would mend at. You were always patient, always kind. Always long suffering. Even though I could tell I was slowly but surely healing I would still shy away from Your hand when You reached for me. It was very confusing. I trusted Your ability to heal me from whatever was coming my way, that You’d help me overcome the obstacles. But I also in my heart believed that it was because of You that I was in need of You to begin with.

When I would come to, You’d ask me about the distrustfulness in my eyes when I looked at You. At first tentatively but soon increasingly with a degree of defiance I would retort with the aforementioned reasoning. You’d calmly listen. You seemed sad, but not surprised not shaken.

“In time.” You said.¬†And my defiant glare would swivel upwards from where my hands gripped my blanket to Your eyes and the breath would get knocked out of me because I thought Your response was a challenge but the love in Your eyes told a very different story. I’d be internally reeling in confusion but You’d peacefully smile back, smooth my hair, check my vitals, then go attend to other patients.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/24/2017]

 

an odyssey: year 5, day 362.

the relentless furnace of reality has a way of igniting my wishful thinking, sending dreams and misplaced comfort up in smoke.

i know what I said because each moment is carved into my mind. I never tried to chisel them away because I needed the energy to survive, to exist.

i know what it’s like to be without Your presence. The cold and lonesome dark, the knife through my heart as the words “she’s gone” change my life forever.

yes I’m gone, far gone.

irretrievably lost unless You come and save me.

even though I cherished and loved all life long naturally, I was desperate to savour every interaction with anyone as if it were my last. I was desperate to see You, desperate to know there was something or someone who could help me.

always the child fearful of nothing but losing the loved ones she had, I lost my last breath when I heard you died. the thing that I feared most in life was an everyday and every night possibility that I tried desperately to see coming lest the surprise devastate me again. but for these matters, one could never be prepared.

so followed the six years of open heart surgery. so followed many surgical complications.

You had so much hope for me that I didn’t have for myself. I know Youre real, that You love me. I wouldn’t be coming back to life if it weren’t for Your skillful and loving hand.

“I’m not going anywhere,” they would tell me. And another shard of schrapnel would saw at my heart strings as I uncomfortably shifted, reminding me of the precise location it was lodged.

people to this day have always fallen into two categories. the ones that would inevitably leave over time and the ones that would leave despite our mutual passionate desire to stay with each other until the end.

death is so cruel. Jesus help me to not get swallowed by pain and fear of what has been known.

learning to live again post surgery is at times worse that the initial heart failure.

in my experience, as much as tragic things are tragic, what is intensely more difficult to swallow is the aftermath. I don’t know who that girl is in those photos from 6 years ago. she wears my face, but I dont know her. I’m dumbstruck. is it possible to be two totally different people in one lifetime?

ive struggled to remember much of anything accurately in the past six years. I remember her. I remember the summer following. almost everything apart from that is muddled together. almost. must be the anesthesia. time to rest.

[patient log status; completed.]

[archived.]

[impending log – 03/23/2017]

 

I’m There, LORD.

It doesn’t take much to wear me out and have me seeking Your face, but I’m there, LORD.

I have good days and not so good days, and I’m there, LORD.

I have days that I’m on top of the mountains and days where I’m under them, and I’m there, LORD.

I have days where I can’t think, move, talk, create fast enough, and days where I can’t do any of those things. And I’m there, LORD.

I have days where my mind is abuzz with the opportunities that are endless, and days where my head is aching with negative possibilities that seem endless. And I’m there, LORD.

I have days where I marvel and wonder with the hope and joy of a child, and there are days that I marvel and wonder at the joy and hope of a child. And I’m there, LORD.

I have days where I can’t praise Your name enough for making Your character known to me, and days where I’m crying out and wrestling to know it more. And I’m there, LORD.

There are days where Your presence couldn’t be more tangible, and there are days when it hurts despite knowing You’re just as tangible but this is necessary to go through.

Thanks for being there, LORD.

There are days when I can’t talk enough about Your grace, mercy, love, and hope, and there are days when I can’t get enough for myself, always wanting more.

Thanks for always showing up, LORD.

Despite the days I could live without or the days that aren’t long enough, thank You for making Yourself – Your very character and name – a promise that You’ll always be there, LORD.

Oh haste the day when Your children don’t just know Your character, but despite what comes their way, they can’t deny that You’ll always be true to Your name.

I want to be there, LORD.

Peace And Grace For A Mind That’s Been Through A Lot.

So I didn’t think I’d be coming down to my basement to write, but sometimes plans change and you have to prioritize. Especially when you’re getting that shoulder tap again.

Many individuals have been on my heart and mind lately, and I’ve been wondering how they’re doing and for some of them I know how they’re doing and the prospect doesn’t seem rosy. Before I start I pray that you’d be given a time of quiet and peace as you read this, because He’s good, He does respond to your prayer and petition, and He’s kind. And it’s in His kindness to show you some things and draw you out of dark places that you’ve fallen into or dug yourself into.

Before writing this post I was wondering if I would be limiting the material by going from a personal stand point, but after some thought and prayer, I’m feeling pretty confident that this won’t be the case.

In a time of things going wrong, what do you call a room that one is permitted to enter, but not permitted to leave?

 

a prison cell.

After years and years, many mistakes, many mishaps, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the grace I have for myself is NO WHERE NEAR sufficient to the grace I need. When things go wrong because I’ve made an error in judgement or things are crumbling through my hands despite much thought about all the outcomes, I cease up and lock down. It looks a lot like not caring for appearance, forgetting to eat, overindulging in eating, general apathy, overly emotional times, catastrophizing, shutting people out, or spilling my guts all over them. There’s just no sense of moderation anymore because my perception is that I’ve lost all control NOT that things are out of control around me.

So what do I do?

I lock myself in my head. Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks. I think about all the things that went wrong. Try to piece events and faces and facts and intuitions together and try to make sense of it all and see if it could’ve gone differently. And almost always, there’s some level of berating myself for either not seeing it coming or for not doing better. The overthinking was intense enough that it would keep me up for days. Or weeks.

Spoiler: I’d get no where with my thinking. The incident still had occurred and I still just felt like junk. Even if I did manage to “make sense” of things – which was rare, it was still beyond my control to do anything or to be back in control of my surroundings (and believe me, I’d thought it through from all angles).

In essence, like that riddle suggests, I’d made my mind a prison cell. It sometimes wasn’t even intentional. I love to ponder all sorts of things over and my mind’s a safe place to do that. Please, by all means thinking things through and reflecting is not a bad thing. But if life is spiralling and your first move is to charge into your think space thinking you can somehow snatch the controls back… if life is spiralling despite your best efforts, were you really in control in the first place?

Things were going wrong all around me, and I’d entered my head and over thought and rethought and marinated and – I felt like a failure. And I was ashamed it went wrong. And I was scared that if I couldn’t understand it or make sense of it, it’d happen again. And I’d have the floor fall out from under me. Again. Sometimes, I would get so sick of thinking that I’d try and throw myself into other things but would still find myself haunted by thoughts of inadequacy. It seems that the door of the “safe” place I’d slammed shut behind me was more willing to remain closed than open up again.

I’m just gonna throw it out there, but that’s not healthy or right. The fact that I’m feeling scared, ashamed, afraid of the future and reoccurrence, or sometimes straight up hopeless that I’ll get past this because I’ve seen so much “proof” in my past and current situation that “how could it be any other way”.

Just, please. Stop. The problem is not God being mean or failing us or having it out for us or not listening. It’s that we didn’t take Him with us when we charged into our think space-turned-control-room mind. And that someone else who likes to mess with you snuck in with you while you weren’t looking. Things like being fearful, ashamed, and hopeless are not things of the Father or even of you. Yes, you hold yourself to a standard and you try to do your best, but you’re called His child for a reason. Because sometimes, children make messes or they find themselves in them. Good grief, He has grace for both scenarios. So be at peace. He’s here for us.

Have you ever seen a child try to get themselves out of a mess? Exactly. It just really doesn’t work, or it gets worse.

There’s a reason that He says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” It’s because we need it. Did you get blind sided? Did it not turn out the way you planned even though you were meticulous? The things you put your trust and hope in are the things you’ll fall by.

And if you put all that trust in youself and you took matters into your own hands without Him? Then you’ll fall. If you put your trust in Him, you’ll still fall but the difference is that He’ll catch you.

It’s the most basic logic that if the world is crumbling around you, then you can’t catch yourself on anything to pull yourself back up because there’s nothing to grab.

Except Him.

It’s okay to not want to talk for a time, or to not cope well for a time, but if your history feels like it’s repeating, then maybe it’s time to start calling for help through the bars. If you feel like you can’t get out of the cycle of overthink, if you can’t stop berating yourself, if you’re intimidated or afraid or evasive, those might be red flags that your trusty think space has now become your permanent residence. It’s time to start calling for help through the bars to people you trust.

The danger of staying in the cell and not calling out for help is potential rotting. What I mean by rotting is increasing despair, intesifying beratement and belittlement of yourself, perpetual and growing self doubt and fear. The right people help protect us. They say things that might at first make us uncomfortable or cut us but at the same time that thing they say should also soothe. We need people in our lives to be honestly loving and lovingly honest and say, “hey, what you did there or what happened to you is not all there is.” Even if it was wrong. Even if it was awful. In my own life and in the lives of many others I’ve been privileged to talk to I’ve found three things. They aren’t the Bible so please do use common sense and think them through. Even test them. Please. Actually, I challenge you to.

1) people who don’t talk or aren’t willing to be told they’re wrong “rot” and their stench sends away people.

2) people who dare to get vulnerable and ask for help, like a child (because that’s what we are), receive aid.

3) God has more than enough grace for both individuals and pursues them relentlessly with His wisdom, grace, and love.

Asking for help will probably be terrifying. Asking for help might be hard and be difficult to know where to start because it means prying the door to your prison open. Ironically and unfortunately, it’s hard to find a weak spot in our strongholds even though our strongholds are against us and ARE our weak spot. But if you ask Him to, He’ll give you the confidence and discernment on where to start working away, and He’ll give you the tools, instruction, and encouragement. He’s done this once or twice.

And also, please please know He loves you and that He was never your enemy and is an ever present help in times of trouble. Invite Him in and lay down your life history and circumstances at His feet. And ask Him to show up however He wants to. Just a forewarning, you may be made really uncomfortable but I promise you it is so so worth it. And really, what have you got to lose? A cell isn’t very compatible with a comfortable lifestyle anyways.

And I pray you find peace in knowing that your life will not always be the way it is today.

 

 

This Woman Needs Bread

“I wish the I was eloquent with words. That I could be like one of those speakers that steps up on stage and

pops it,

locks it,

polka dots it,

and don’t do it for the fame.

They pop the question that

locks the idea in your head that

there’s more than just sentences filled with punctuation

see,

they have the bravery to say the words I had left unsaid. And so what I’m trying to tell you is, before you ask who I am, I will say what I am not. I am not

a prophet

a healer of all wounds

a comforter.

I am a beggar showing other beggars where to get bread.

Because you see, I have been through some of life’s miseries and I’m starving

on the daily

and this frail me

cannot sustain itself through fasting and keeping quiet;

this woman needs bread.

And though I’ve been offered many delicacies that looked delicious to these starving eyes, and pleasant to hold in these shaking hands, when I took my first bite,

I faltered,

The very food in my hand

altered

as it crumbled to dust leaving ash in my mouth.

This woman needs bread.

And so for months I stumbled around. The things that I thought would sustain me,

they framed me,

and I became the poster child of what not to do and who not to be. I was shackled in irons, starving and tired, and in desperate need for my bread. And finally the day came for me when I was too weak to lift my head.

But I did have enough energy -enough bitterness- to sputter the words,

‘How .. could You .. do this to me?’

I thought it was the end.

And as I clung onto despair like my skin and tattered clothes clung to my bones,

He came.

And never have I so desperately wanted, needed, craved to see this last person I thought I ever wanted to know. And as He looked at my pitiful frame, He drew me to Him, broke the loaf with His nail pierced hands and said,

‘Here woman, starve no more. I offer you My bread.’ “

The Death of a Criminal.

We are by far our own worst depreciators. And so we need someone who will appreciate us. We need someone to believe in us. Someone who will love on us. Someone who will remind us of who we are and what we’re meant for. Someone who will hold us accountable to our acts, thoughts, and deeds. Someone who will give us hope when all is lost. Someone who will put us on our feet again and dust us off, and then continue on walking with us. Someone who will be honest with and tell us the truth. Someone who will be the way out when there isn’t one. Someone who will tell us we are beautiful creations when we can barely meet our own eyes in the mirror morning after morning. Someone who will destroy our demons, not just put them in cages and give us advice on how to train them so they behave better. Someone who will break into the deepest parts of our self defenses, just to prove that it’s actually a prison and prison is no place to live. Someone who will free us from our chains that we put on ourselves and have had others put on us, not pass us a gun and say, “it’s like roulette. I hope you get lucky and make the right choice.” But the answer is not in us. It never was. We do not live for ourselves Sometimes we find it hard enough to live with our selves. Is that why we celebrate like we’re going to die tomorrow? But I don’t want to die tomorrow. Or today. I want to live today, tomorrow, and for all eternity. I want to party like everyday is new, because everyday will be, and because it’s a new day of my life that I get to live to the fullest. But I can’t have any of that without love to first set me free. A love that would meet me in whatever place I’m at, and then not leave me there. A love that wouldn’t be afraid or disgusted by my disfigured heart that couldn’t stand the very thought of its own self beating. A love that would take on the crushing weight of the consequences and accountability I had been running from but knowingly never escaping. I knew because whenever I was out of breath from running and slowed down enough to think about my life, the weight of dread would come and try to suffocate the rest of the life out of me. A love that would find me and give me hope, because I was lost and chained, and exhausted, and alone. Because alone with only all my demons for company was not a good place to be. And so love came. And when I was covered in my own shame and filth and blood, He took the chains off me so I could rise from having my face in the dust, and wore them around himself. He lifted my weary head so He could study every detail on this face of mine and keep it in crystal- clear resolution in the forefront of His mind as He died in my place. My death. The death of a criminal. Why me? I am not worth dying for, I thought. But that thought holds no weight anymore, and now it holds no truth either because I live for someone else, and He is truth. And I abide by His truth because He tells me that He endured that wretched death because I was His reward. I do not have to own what I have done anymore, because He owns me and paid for me in full. The highest price – He paid for me while others shamed Him, when He took on their filth, and when they screamed for His blood. He knows who I am. He knew what I did, and what I would do. And He reached into my lonely darkness, craddling my wretched and failing heart in His pierced hands, and whispered, “Mine.” And before my eyes He became all that I had ever wanted but knew I never deserved. He became my faith that I was meant for more, because it is He who grants faith. He gave me hope, because that is what He is to me. And when all failed, He did not, because love cannot, and He is love. “Love never fails…So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.” -From 1 Corinthians 13 ESV