seven

7. Someone who has made your life worth living for.

Okay, can I just say, before I get started, that the assignment above drives me batty? The preposition at the end of the sentence, for starters! Why would the originator do that? It muddles the whole question, and I’m not sure if it means someone who, generally speaking, has made my life worth the living, or someone for whom I have lived my life. Do you see the muddle? Grrr…….

Be that as it may, here is how I choose to answer:

I know I’m supposed to say something like my husband, or kids, or pretty much any close family member or friend. Or, maybe I’m supposed to say Jesus. All of these things are true. I mean, I love my family, and seriously, I’d do just about anything for them. I love living my life in loving servanthood to them (that sounded better in my head than it does in print, but I mean it in the best way possible). I love my Savior. He understands me like no one else, primarily because he knows me better than anyone else. Better than I know myself. I love them, and cannot fathom a life lived without them. Each one holds, impossible as it seems, my whole heart, and I would be incomplete without my loves.

yet…

Instead I will say my friend, whom I affectionately call the Heathen. His real name is Justin. When we first befriended each other, he seemed very much a rebel, a dangerous element, maybe even, a little, unsavory. Definitely not friend-material for a staid matron like me. Yet I liked his sweet smile, and his shy demeanor (around me) and thought that perhaps he is just an overgrown little boy. For his part (and this doesn’t speak well of him, but it gets better) he says he thought I was ‘hot’ and he enjoyed flirting with me (which, I know, doesn’t speak well of me, either). And, maybe, he hoped that fantasies do sometimes come true. They didn’t.

Flirtation gave way to conversation and I understood that the person beneath the persona was much more the little boy than the rebel. He was–is–searching for a home. Constantly restless, he says he never really feels as though he fits in anywhere he is. This makes me a little sad. But I think it also explains why he befriended me. I have been known to settle others. I feel it in their energy. And I feel them calm in my presence.

My God has flooded me with love, so much that I can only hope to let the excess run through me and over others. The Heathen is looking for God. He isn’t even sure God exists, but God is certain of the Heathen, and is lovingly calling him to Himself. And so, in a roundabout way, I have lived for the Heathen. If he has known any of the love of Christ through me, it is worth it to have been friends.

 

 

 

 

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6. Something you hope you never have to do.

Painfully simple: I hope I never have to bury one of my children.

In the summer of 2014, my high-school best friend lost her son. He was so young! Joseph was a week shy of his 12th birthday. I cannot even imagine the pain she must’ve truly felt, but the small glimpse I had of her heartache was enough. I’m sure I never thought it would be easy, but I never thought about how devastatingly difficult it is. Sure, people say it’s hard. I know it’s hard, but to witness it… it changes the way you think. The experience becomes real – tangible heartache, instead of theoretical what-if.

The numbness of shock was a welcome respite from the confusion of trying to wrap my thoughts around what had happened, and I lived there for a long while. I didn’t want to think about having to live that reality for myself. But every time I looked at my own beautiful children I wanted to hug them and never let go. I tried to imagine life without my precious babies – for whether they are 2 or 20 or 60, they will always be my babies – and I simply couldn’t.

My own son has since moved away, but he is still here. I can call him, and his voice is still fresh in my mind. My daughter is here – I see her every morning, can hug her daily if I like. Her laugh regularly brightens our home. I have my family. I thank God – though not nearly enough! – for His good and gracious gift of this family, husband, children, parents and siblings. In the natural order of things, I know I will have to let go of the elders of this extended unit. Perhaps even my contemporaries. But please, God, let me never have to bury my little ones.

 

five

5. Something you hope to do in your life.

This is a difficult question. There are many things I hope to do in my life. I should pick one that is more than just a natural progression in the course of my life, something I might have to chase, rather than allow to happen.

Therefore…I hope to travel. I might even hope to live for an extended time abroad. Not to permanently change my residence, but maybe spend more than a week on vacation somewhere. I would quite like to spend time in Scotland or Wales, maybe Ireland… Anywhere in the UK would be lovely. Perhaps it is my romanticising the place due to all the tv shows, movies and books I read which are set there, but I think it is more than that. I think it’s a longing to reach back to a simpler time – my youth – and the fond memories I have of living there. Granted, my memory is hazy. Faulty, even. And I have tended to live my life with rose-colored glasses, seeking and seeing the best in situations… Even so.

That is my hope.

four

4. Something I need to forgive someone else for.

This something is very fresh, and I want to express it, away from prying eyes, but where I can keep it for future reference. I need to forgive my friend for not wanting to be my friend anymore. It is her choice to walk away – I cannot and will not keep her tethered to me. The kindness and warmth would only turn to resentment and bitterness anyway. It is hard, though, to watch someone so clearly distance themselves from one. It has been evident for some time. And there have been signs. I ignored them for months, until I couldn’t. My gut told me this would happen, but, being a creature of hope and optimism, I ignored it. I told myself she just needed a little space. I gave her space, keeping in touch just enough that she’d know I was here when she wanted to return. Though I think I knew even then that she wouldn’t return.

She was a friend, but she was also a sometime business partner, and in that way, she let me down. I said it was all right – or would be. I said that I understood. I said I would never hate her, or hold this over her head. I said I know that I will find my way to forgiveness, and even offered it to her right away. These are all true things, but it is also true that I feel betrayed. My trust is in tatters, and I look back in hurt and wonder why. Why, and what did I do, that she couldn’t tell me how she felt? She said her pride got in the way. Perhaps so. After all, it is seldom about me. Nevertheless, I hurt. I want to retreat into myself, and the very shy and skittish girl inside is speaking up, saying This. This is why we shouldn’t trust people. This is why we shouldn’t love so freely. This is why we must keep our emotions in check.

I will forgive her – I always do. I cannot live without extending grace to others. However, things will never be the same. I will let her go, making no effort to keep her. It will be easier on us both.

Maeve & Owain

She knelt, staring into the meadow. Bright moonlight lit everything in an ethereal bluish glow. Occasionally there was movement at the edge of the wood, night creatures going about their business. Carrying on as if nothing changed. There would always be deer, raccoons, foxes and owls, had been for hundreds of years and would be for hundreds more. Nothing did change, yet everything changed.

Her heart was heavy. Owain was leaving in the morning, and who knew when he’d be back. He would come back. He’d promised, and she depended on it. But the nights alone seemed endlessly empty. Maeve went on, another woodland sprite, marking time, existing, not living.

She heard a whisper of movement behind her. He’d discovered her missing from his arms.

“My Heart, why are you here?” Owain appeared at her side, hand outstretched. She allowed him to draw her up and take her into his embrace.

She laid her head upon his shoulder and closed her eyes, breathing in his scent. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“You should have woken me. I would be with you.” He stroked her moonlit curls. He would miss the silk of her while they were apart. Silken hair, silken skin. Soft, beautiful, exquisite.

Maeve melted into him, snuggled her face into the crook of his neck and began to sway. She hummed a melody, ancient and wordless, a tune sung for him alone. She sought to comfort him, soothe herself, to seal this memory in their minds.

In the blue of the moonlight they danced, sprite and prince, one heartbeat shared, souls entwined, in perfect union.

Dawn crept over the forest’s edge. In the earliest hour of morning they had lain together again, a silent joining, broken only by sighs. There was no need of words, for there was nothing to be said apart from what their hearts spoke.

Owain opened his eyes. It was time. Her form was fitted so seamlessly into his that for a moment he hesitated. How could he leave? They were perfection together.

How could he not? These stolen moments were only that. Moments. They were from separate worlds, not meant to be together. He would return to his home, and she would return to the forest. Until next time. Until he heard Maeve speak into his soul, Come, my Heart, I have need of us. Until she heard the same. And they would away to this nest in the forest’s edge, to fill each other up, to wash away the yearning, and to part again until the next time.

Owain walked to the bend in the path and looked back. She had faded from sight, as if she never was, disappearing into the mist of the morning. He faced forward again. Breathed in the crisp air of the morning and strode on alone.

The hidden dark

Perhaps most importantly, write for an audience of one — yourself. Write the story you need to tell and want to read. –Khaled Housseni

Sometimes, when I write for only myself, the words are honest and true and raw. This is supposed to make for good reading, and yet, why would I share that? Raw words can be dangerous. Used as weapons and daggers to the heart. I protect myself at all costs, because if I do not, the cost may be too great. Perhaps this is the reason that I am not the truest singer I can be. To let myself be raw and bare in front of others comes at too great a cost. I find it easier – not much, but marginally easier – to let my writing be more naked than my singing.

I have written raw words before. And even shared them. The cost though, is a dear one. It allows others to see into my soul for a moment, to the places I want to keep to myself. And when rejection comes, as it does in time, it scores ever deeper, and reminds me why we keep ourselves to ourselves. I say we, because I think of myself as we. There is me, the one I usually am, and there’s the little girl that hides in the background. The one who is shy and skittish. She is easily hurt, quite tender, and bears the scars of hundreds of cuts. She bears the scars so that I don’t have to. She is shy, so that I can be open. She is reserved so that I can be caring. And she remembers the hurts I cannot. Were I to remember, I would never care to care again.

Lately she has peeked out more. Perhaps she is curious? I only know that she is harder to protect when she is out. And I do want to protect her. I don’t like that she is scarred. I don’t care for her shy and skittish nature. Though I understand it completely. Honestly, sometimes I wish she would hide away and never come out again. It is painful for me to see her.

Perhaps it is not so much her I want to protect as it is me. The me who is loving and witty and quick to laugh. I like me. I love being witty and humorous, carefree and happy. She disquiets me. She reminds me of…of something. The darker side of me. The one who questions the motives of everyone I meet, or who waits patiently for the hurt that will come, given time for any relationship. I don’t like thinking of those things. I want to be – strive to be! – trusting and loyal and forgiving and…the perfect embodiment of agape love.

Of course, I am only human. I can’t be the perfect anything. But I try. I really do.

A child at Christmas

Please please please!
Open my gift to you!
I’ve shared my heart with you!
I’m so excited, so nervous, I want you to like it!

No better gift for me could you choose than to read my stories.
To read my heart is to satisfy a longing in me to be understood.
I am pleased beyond measure and  need nothing else.

Except perhaps to know.
To know you have read
That you have understood.
That my gift has been opened and appreciated.

 

three

3. Something I need to forgive myself for.

There is plenty. Many little things I know I do wrong, or ought to do and don’t. But I think it comes down to this:

I need to forgive myself for not being perfect.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Everyone knows that no one is perfect. I am always perfectly willing to let others be imperfect. But knowing how dreadfully imperfect I am galls me, causes me no end of distress, and is a constant source of irritation. I cannot live up to the standards I set, and it irks me. I know so many people who think I’m perfect – or at least that I have it perfectly together. I try my hardest to dissuade them of the notion, but even so, it bothers me that I have to say so. That I have to admit to being ‘less than’ perfect.

I am moody, sometimes irritable and uncharitable.  I have whole arguments with others in my mind, when they have no idea I’ve taken offense at an imagined slight. I will rail and scream and shout – all in my head – only to find that there was no slight. the conflict I had imagined was only that. The confrontation I was imagining and dreading was nothing more than a conversation in passing. Nothing to get worked up about.

I am unkind. Sometimes my cynical hurting self will wrest control from my loving open-hearted self (the one I most like to be) and I will belittle or snipe or snark. Unkindness is something I dislike in others, and hate in myself.

I am vain. I like being and feeling pretty, and I like being admired. I like seeing the glances of men, and don’t do much to dissuade them from looking when I’m feeling vain and proud.

These are only the faults that come immediately to mind. There are hundreds of others. See? – very much not perfect.

So you see, I have a lot I need to forgive myself for. Thankfully I have a Savior who is constantly forgiving me (I have to ask a lot) and who is constantly reminding me to forgive myself and stay close to Him, so that I will become more like Him. Slowly, ever so slowly, I am inching my way.

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2. something you love about yourself

I love that I have a caring heart. I love deeply and fiercely. I love that I love people. I want people to be happy, or content, and do my best to help them in their journey to better places. I think people who don’t even know me can sense this about me – I don’t know, maybe it’s my aura. But friends and strangers alike will share with me their sorrows, and I will listen and encourage and pray for them.

Apparently it’s a Spiritual Gift. Mercy. I have received it in spades. I know I care for the sometimes overlooked, I see hurt that others don’t, and I will reach out to, if not heal it, then to place a salve of love over the hurt to encourage healing. I remember when I was young, perhaps in high school, we learned about the various types of love, and the unconditional love that God has for us and that we show to others through His Grace is called Agape. My little peer group liked to go around saying not, “I love you,” but “I agape you.” I must’ve taken it to heart. I Agape people all the time.

As stated in my previous post, God will lay certain ones on my heart. I say they are ‘mine’ though they might beg to differ on that point. But what I mean is that I will love them unconditionally, regardless of circumstance, and of what they may or may not have done. Some whom I have claimed have been friends, some acquaintances, and youths that come across my path, students or friends of my kids. Most of the time I don’t tell them of this laying-on God has done. Partly because, well, it’s a little strange. Unconditional love is an ideal, but it’s still somehow foreign to people. They like to think, there must be a catch – there’s always a catch. But there isn’t and I don’t want anything in return (though a little love and loyalty is nice my way, too.) I just know that I am called to love them, care for them, and be there. That’s all. Now, and in a year, and in ten years. I will be here for those whom God has placed on my heart. 

I love this about myself. I know that it is an unusual thing to be so deeply called to love. I know that God has uses for it – to point to His Glory, and to proclaim in some tiny way His vast and amazing Love. 

one

Thirty-one day challenge. These are hard questions, meant to make one dig deep and write honestly even through the difficulty. My days will be by no means consecutive. I will be honest, but it will take its toll and therefore I must take my time.

Day 1- something you hate about yourself.

Today, this week, this is easy. I hate that I care too much for people. Often for people who don’t care as much – or at all – in return. God has gifted me with a heart that breaks easily- if one aches, I will ache alongside one. I will hold one’s hand and hurt as if it were my own. This care is often appreciated, but just as often is carelessly tossed aside.

God will lay on my heart certain people. I cannot seem to pick and choose, though if I could I would certainly not choose some of these souls! Once they are laid on my heart, they are ‘mine’. I will pray for them, will love them, and will always be there. Even when our friendship’s season is done. I find this annoying at times, downright painful at others. Because I know that I care more. It hurts to be the one who cares more.

I have thought about how I can care less. How do I guard myself against this kind of hurt? And the only answer I come up with is to not be myself anymore. Too difficult. Besides, I sometimes love this thing about me, too – which is the next day’s post.