Happy “Here”

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“Christians should be the happiest people on the face of the earth… we know where we are going!”

How many times have I heard that sentence rattled off by a suit and tie wielding leather-bound pages?

To say I’ve lost count would be an understatement.

“Blessed assurance”… “Certain ends”…. “Comfort in the chaos”.

Whatever you want to call it, Christ’s gift of eternal life is a high-end commodity for our lowly race of beggars.

It is such a commodity in fact, that it makes the entirety of the rest of our lives completely irrelevant.

Because there is no “messy middle” that compares to the glory of an eternity in Heaven with Christ.

Faithful Christians then, always rejoice.

Faithful Christians pull their shit together and sing of God’s goodness no matter what evils befall them.

Faithful Christians are not to fear even death itself.

And boy, did I ever want to be a faithful Christian…

At the age of 16, in reference to being terrified of failing my driver’s ed. test, I wrote:

“I didn’t want to pray a selfish prayer by asking God to help me pass, so I simply asked the LORD to help me handle every failure as a Christian should. Not by crying or by being angry, but by smiling and saying “I’ll just have to try again”.

It seems silly to me now that I thought the great and mighty God of the entire universe had a very vested interest in whether or not I passed my little test and in how I would handle not passing.

But, especially as a teenager, there was something addictive about the idea that every single last minutiae of my life not only mattered to someone, but that those minutiae were also preparing me for my “certain end” in Christ.

Talk about rude awakenings!

Nowadays, people keep asking me how I got “here”.

“Here” meaning “fallen off the straight and narrow” and “given over to my own evil desires” after being such a “light”.

“Here” meaning “spiritual, non-religious, and Agnostic”.

The truth is though, that I’m still asking myself the exact same thing.

Because the story can only be told in many pieces.

Pieces taken from little moments, from little fractures, from little lies, from little truths…

Pieces that sliced my palms and stitched up the wounds.

One of those pieces is called “happiness as faithfulness”.

In my mind, and in the minds of my community at the time, the day my hopelessness stole my joy was the day I betrayed the gift of Christ.

Losing my joy meant that, unlike my drivers’ ed. test, I had failed.

Because Christ is greater than grief.

If you keep your eyes on Christ, then pain should hold no power over your mind, your heart, or your body.

What does it matter how much pain you are in as long as you know your certain end?

How great can your suffering be when Christ’s and His martyrs’ were all the greater?

It is clear to me now the harm in these ideas.

Because no matter what, the blame would always be placed on my shoulders.

If I did not have joy, it was because I was not faithful.

If I did not feel comfort, it was because I did not pray earnestly enough.

If I did not have faith, it was because I didn’t meditate fervently on the scriptures day and night.

Even the fact that I had pain in the first place was my fault because I let something have a greater space in my heart than God.

When you’re a faithful Christian, there is no scenario in which the sinner is not in the wrong.

Because God and all of the ideas that He supposedly endorses, are perfect, righteous, and kind.

If He did not help me, it was because I did not deserve help.

Thanks to all of these extremely useful ideas about the world, I entered therapy nine months ago believing whole-heartedly not only that I was going to Hell, but also that I deserved to go there.

Although! I will say that God’s Hell didn’t scare me quite as much as it used to at that point because I had already been through my own.

I feel so sad for myself that, that was my reality.

Because I most definitely do not deserve to go to Hell.

I am a kind, compassionate, peaceful, and understanding person.

I would do anything for my friends and I have empathy for those people who have hurt me and for those I disagree with.

I am a 24-year-old young woman who loves fitness, writing, music, and nature.

I’m a vegetarian who’s been known to catch and release spiders instead of kill them.

I am funny, I am driven, and I am a good listener.

If there is a God out there who thinks I deserve Hell, then what does that say about Him?

Many of my friends are praying for my soul to this day, pleading with God that I would come back to my faith.

But, I am so much happier “here”.

I’m a better person now.

I’m stronger now.

I don’t want to go back to something that was making me so miserable.

I endured the pressure of it for 9 years of my life and I don’t see why anyone would wish that upon me again.

I may not know where I’m going anymore, but at least I know I’ll be free on my way there.

And that makes me feel whole.

 

Some Dark November

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Why did you have to break the vow that I made?

Born again they say.

“You must be born again”.

I was.

Twice.

The first for childlike faith.

The second for naïve visions of hands holding hands.

There was a day when I was baptized in the usual way…

With water on a Sunday.

The day I remember most though,

Is some dark November.

In a strange light, and covered in bedbug bites.

Some dark November,

I was born again. Twice.

I sold my soul to the quivers of my body.

To the way I heard someone screaming,

Far away, but embodied in choking chest.

I sold my soul to feverish ache.

To insomniatic rage.

To how carpet tastes like nothing but coarsens the cheeks.

I was baptized in that unusual way.

Wonderment crucified beneath the scathing hot rivers I cried that night.

Raised to walk in newness of life…

And it’s still the newest life, I don’t know how to live.

The newest life I never wanted.

Spitting image of this unfamiliar family…

Singing for the outside our dearest song-

“Never be born again twice”…

“No, never be born again twice”.

Ghost Girl

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Here it comes again.

An emptiness, a heaviness, all at the same time.

My fingers are bloody from the knowing – what’s beneath the surface.

I hold my breath.

I hold it for as long as I can.

Maybe I just won’t take another one… and this won’t have to come.

But it comes, gasping.

And that’s when I know I’ve lost again, that’s when it takes me.

There’s no saving in that moment.

For hours (who knows how many this time), the screams thunder in my throat and echo in my ringing ears.

Somehow, I’m the only one who ever hears.

Who could hear the cries of the dead?

Not one hears the Ghost Girl.

It doesn’t matter how it happened now.

The trigger was just a trigger;

it’s the bullets that tear through flesh.

Here I remember her-

Alive Girl.

And my nails dig deeper into my heaving sides.

She had a life…

Dreams even.

Laughter…

Friends even.

Hope…

Ghosts have a death.

Ghosts have a haunting.

Ghosts are souls without a home.

And all of the Alives,

Live on in apathy towards things dead.

Now begins the shaking, and I choke on aching lungs.

Maybe, I’ll just stop breathing now…

But I remember this story I heard once,

Of a King.

Everyone knows the story.

Of the King they crucified dead.

And laying here, clenched in tomb of sorrows,

I don’t know if I believe it, but I know that it is true-

He didn’t stay dead.

Resurrection!

He didn’t stay dead.

Not His body, not His Ghost.

A Ghost who makes More Alive.

A Ghost with an Awakening.

A Ghost with bountiful dwellings.

How can this be?

I press my fingertips deep into the pulsating of my wrist.
And I feel her-

More Alive Girl.

Because Ghost speaks to ghost.

Ghost breathes for ghost.

And More Alive sounds so much better than Alive ever could.

It’s this moment.

When there’s something about the Resurrection that speaks to the death in me.

 

 

John 11: 25-26- Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?