The Associate Pastor’s Tirade

Part I

We barrelled into Church a motley crue,

composed of one shoeless screaming to be

shirtless, who wanted to run and climb.

Hung from the other arm was one whose

Only desire was to scream and run, but

Who had cried out “I want Jesus” in the parking lot.

I came for the Living Water. Broken, tired,

I came to hear Him tell me love exists.

My husband came for me, and for hope,

And for the sense that everything will be ok.

The Mass is hell with toddlers on board,

But we trust heaven in it, because He is there,

Even when the darkness seems too heavy,

We are there because He came.

Today, was different though.

The air was heavy when we woke, as if it knew,

We fought to Mass, starving for the Bread.

Instead, we were met with him.

The man of God, but just a man,

Condemned those who fight for God.

The devil works in those who think they are good,”

He said, “racism is worse in other countries.”

Before he violated children’s ears with graphic fear,

Stuffing modern justice warriors with straw

Until they looked like war.

Scenes of blood and pain despair far above their heads.

The children grew impatient, shrieking,

They ran around the columns gleeful in rebellion,

As he compared defenders of the dead to spoiled children,

Like a baby girl’s father is less than a playstation.

Livid, we planted our feet on Jesus,

Crying out to Him, we stayed for only Him,

Left quiet, muted, but present.

We begged Him for His presence amidst the dark,

And He had already sent love to us, A family

just across the tile, with horror written on their faces,

They let us know, this Church cares for all the races.

We cried and laughed in anger with them,

Reminding each other of who God is, not this.

Part II

We dragged through the wreckage of

broken desire to reach the altar’s hope.

Heads hung in fear of what the Church could mean,

I lifted my eyes to Jesus, begging for His love,

And His arms reached out over three children.

The children were black, condemned by proxy

Through the entire hour long sermon for hate,

They sat apparently complicit, imprisoned to the wait,

No part of him asked if these children might be afraid,

As he spewed terror from the pulpit in defense of the racist horde.

Helpless, I watched as one child’s eyes opened,

And I asked myself if anything could take away what happened,

They may always remember that moment,

And God willing they don’t think it was Him,

This is why spiritual abuse is a sin.

Please Don’t Let Me Die

That song is playing agan

The one I play to praise

when I’m afraid

I won’t make it this time.

“Even when it hurts”

I pray again with beads

Clutched in my hand

Like a holy card or nun

Oh, God, Please don’t let me die.

It’s another one of those nights,

I don’t know if I’m dying

Or if my body is lying.

And if my body is lying

Is that better or worse than dying?

If this thing I live in can’t be

Trusted, or relaxed in.

If that, then how do I live

Again, how do I live this way,

How do I exist in a body

That lies? Or dies?

When Did I Stop Writing Poetry?

When did I stop writing poetry?

Was it when I told you who I was?

Was it when this place online

Became a place in your face

Without somewhere to hide mine?

When did I start preaching

Like so many talking heads

Doing the things I don’t do

Yet learned to, but still don’t

Understand how to.

When did I stop writing poetry?

Was it when you told me to take sides?

When my guts were pulled in both ways,

When you told me I am empty

Until I decide to play your games?

Hush. Take a breath. Be still.

When the poet speaks in the dark

There is no us vs. them, me vs. you,

There is you and you and you.

And me. Waiting for the words to come.

Stay: For those in Isolation

Dear Friend,

You are lonely tonight. 

When the rest of us cheered

Delighted at time away,

Your heart quaked in fear.

You were faced with isolation,

Alone with yourself,

You are haunted by your demons. 

I have fought that dark fight 

When night seems endless

I begged for release and screamed

While no one could hear.

Please, friend, be patient.

Stay with me.

I’m here. 

Here in the deep, 

you are not alone. 

I am reaching out my hand to you.

Touch me.

Let you fingers linger on mine,

As I tenderly stroke yours.

I will sing to you tonight,

Whatever is your favorite song.

Lay your hand in mine,

Let me hold your weary bones. 

Stay.

Recoil

Here’s a poem inspired by a scrupulousity spiral yesterday

Recoil

I read a meditation
And it said,
“Picture yourself
Among the crowd
That crucified Jesus.
A few Easters ago
I cringed
When the Gospel instructed,
[Crowd speaks]
Crucify Him.
I trembled.

In the name of guilt
We daydream we are
Murderers of God
The worst sinners we could be
But I am not evil.
I spent my entire life
Trying not to be
So I don’t want to pretend I am.

If I were there,
I would be screaming
Crying my heart out of my chest
I wish I would rise up
Or be a help to Him instead.
I’d like to imagine I’m Veronica
And touch His loving face,
Or Simon and graze His arm
With love while I helped Him
With His Cross.

Don’t tell me I’m a monster
And my sin’s same as murder.
I love my Savior with all I am.
He chose to be crucified for me
Because He loves me
I will not punish myself
For every mistake
And make it all my fault
This isn’t about me
It was for me,
And that takes Him away.

Original Sin

When I gave birth the third time,

Everyone told me what a perfect birth it was.

They marveled at how calm and “unafraid” I was,

How I “roared” my baby earthside.

I’ve ached in that lie for a while now,

Lost in their awe and my own despair.

What they didn’t know is that

While they were calling me calm and unafraid,

I was facing the endless exile of humanity

With trepidation, anger, and despair.

While they were resting and calm,

My head bowed over the water’s edge

And realized nothing will save me.

This is an effect of original sin.

My husband leaves every morning for hours,

Like so many other husbands.

He’s far away, but not as far as many others;

I’m not blind to my own privilege.

He feels so far away to me though,

A piece of my heart leaves with him,

And the hole aches inside of me.

But, “the man shall work…

and the woman will long for her man.”

They tell me, “it could be so much worse,”

My own voices, and others sometimes,

And I know they are right.

I am lucky to be alive, lucky for my family,

Blessed even.

But they are missing the point.

It’s not about my pain being so horrible,

It’s about pain being horrible.

It’s not that my struggles are the worst,

It’s that they are the least.

It’s not a little pain,

It’s the largest pain there is.

It’s the anger, it’s the fear, it’s the hope,

In the face of a God who will not relent.

Or sometimes won’t. It depends….

On what?

On His mood? On my merit?

If God shall number our sins,

“Lord, who can stand,”

But if God does not hear our merits,

Lord, who can stand that either.

Eve may have fallen, and so have we,

But we have also begged you to return.

We have made you king.

We have fallen again and gotten lost

In this terrifying world you have created,

But we have come back to you and we have begged you to return,

No more to go away.

But you won’t hear us, Lord.

Please forgive me, my anger Lord,

My heart breaks over nothing, I know.

My heart breaks for the whole world,

I cry for days over a 6 month old boy I never met,

I break in half over a family who loses their father and almost their mother.

I shatter over shootings, over bombs, over countries, over worlds,

That cry out like violent small humans for your help.

Oh God see us in our weakness and have mercy on us.

We are so desperate for your love we are destroying each other,

God, we want you in your fullness,

We just don’t know it yet,

Have mercy on our misguided attempts to find you.

Reveal yourself, and hold us until we stop crying,

Like a mother with a flailing infant,

Hold us in our fear, despair, rage,

While I kick my legs against you and scream,

Hold me and receive my tears,

Understand that I am lost in your exile,

And I just want You to come home.

Ugly Cry, or, My Awakening: The Tension Between Cultivating Joy and Feeling Heard

Lately, I have been feeling like a ping pong ball in my own head. I’m learning a lot about a lot of things, but the problem is they all seem to contradict each other. I am learning how to cultivate joy, but I am also learning how to give myself space to be sad, I am learning about how to let good things in, and bad things out, I am learning about how anger is a secondary emotion, and about whether or not acting it out in some way helps, I am learning about healing, and I am learning about how much hurt can hurt, and I am learning to love and trust myself, and I am learning all of my weak spots all at the same time. I read an article that talked about how ugly real-life awakenings are, and if that’s the truth, it makes a lot of goddamn sense.

I’m so pissed off about this awakening. I’m humiliated and angry and frustrated, oh and presently actually literally sick. I am so aware of every single one of my flaws and yet it seems like every day someone thinks of a new one to add, not that they are even meaning too. I’m as sensitive as a porcelain doll right now because I feel like I’m trying to become this new person and every single move I make could change the world or end it. And to be fair, I don’t blame them, I can’t stand being in my own head anymore than they can stand what a mess I am.

I’m bouncing between all of the things I’m learning at the highest extremes of each trying to figure out who I am and where I stand inside, and just knowing I don’t belong on any of the sides I see. I see flaws everywhere on everything and everyone especially myself, but I am also seeing beauty in a way I haven’t in a long time, and for the first time in a long time, when I see the flaws I am doing something about it, or at least trying to. Sometimes I feel literally on fire because I’m so angry when I see someone else get talked down to, when I see anyone being ganged up on or feeling isolated. I’ve become, possibly a little too much, intense about standing up for the people who feel alone in that particular way.

I want to be a crusader for the lonely, and the misfits. That’s how I see who Christ was, and that’s who I have always wanted to be. I want to heal broken hearts, I want to hold those I can’t heal in my figurative or literal arms, I want to wipe away tears, I want to scream as loud as I can with people who need space to be angry, I want to pull dreams out of people who are afraid to dream, I want to answer despair with hope, I want to dive into their mud and muck and I want them to breathe again.

The problem is, I’m not big enough yet. I feel like a three year old looking at my life and realizing I’m not a grown up, and I keep throwing tantrums that humble me beyond what I thought was possible. I am so deeply angry at fate for whatever it has dealt everyone who is in pain including myself. I don’t want just answers to my problems, I want my answers to be the answers for everyone. I want to revolutionize how the world does life right now, because people are hurting so freaking bad. So the problem is, again, I’m not big enough to do all the things I want to do.

My answer to this, that bothers some people around me, is to complain. To live the truth of my struggle instead of sucking it up and pretending everything is ok. There’s been several articles out lately about society keeps giving “self-care” advice to people who really just need HELP. A prophets/artists job in life is to state the truth, and I am living that curse right now. There are things in our society and culture that are seriously fucked up. There are things in our Church that are horrifying. There are things in our world that are disastrous. I am a ball of positivity sometimes and I love to see the good in people and in the world, but let me tell you, there are some awful things happening right now, and the only space for my positively right now is my all-consuming hunger for helping to change it all, so I write, and sometimes I hate my negative confusing messy scribbles, but I’m not writing them for me. I am writing them for the little girl who wishes she was dead, so she knows she’s not alone. I am writing them for the mom who can’t stand up another day, so she knows someone else is fighting the war with her, I am writing them for the people who think the Church hates them, so they know they matter too. There is beauty in the truth even when the truth is ugly.

I catch myself sometimes feeling like I am trying to excuse the fact that I’m having a hard time. When I do that, I try to just stop writing right there, because it gets insincere real quick. Sometimes, I have to just push through it to get to the other side, and sometimes the other side is excusing the fact that everyone in my situation is having a hard time. I try to write letters for those who are struggling, or write comforting words to them, or write about their struggle, but sometimes it seems like the most powerful way I am able to struggle with someone is to stand with them and say, “Yeah, this fucking sucks. I’m here.” I catch myself defending people from themselves, other people, even myself sometimes, saying, “What you have been through is really hard, it’s ok to have a hard time.”

And ok, that is partially selfish, because when I am sad that’s all I want-my loved ones to see that I’m struggling and accept me through it, but it’s not just selfish, because I think the whole world needs that. Mother Teresa said that the people in America were suffering more than the people starving in Calcutta because they are lonely. That hasn’t changed, if anything, it’s gotten worse, and I believe one reason why is that we have this standard of perfectionism that no one can ever attain, but everyone is expected to, so no one is accepted for who they really are because everyone is so desperately trying to keep their mask on. Even the women who share their makeup free selfies are sometimes hiding how insecure they really are about it, and how scary it is to put themselves out there.

The thing is, that cultivating joy and choosing the good and all of that, do matter. I am not great at them and I am practicing, and failing, a lot, but sometimes, when someone is going through something really hard, just choosing joy isn’t enough. Sometimes the whirlwind of problems are so much that choosing joy seems completely impossible, and the litany of different medical and physical and emotional things that could be wrong with you are so overwhelming that all you know is that you are all wrong. Everyone else is happy and you aren’t, so something is horribly wrong with you. I am here to tell you, it’s okay to have a hard time. It’s even okay to have a hard time if you are STILL having a hard time. Recovery from grief is not an easy process, recovery from abuse takes titanic strength, recovery from addiction takes insane amounts only effort, recovery from anger at fate for what your life looks like seems almost impossible. It is ok to struggle.

If you are reading this, and you are not having a hard time, try to remember a time when you felt completely helpless and powerless, and if that’s never happened in your life, thank God and the people who have made that happen for you. If, though, you are reading this and you are having a hard time, know, you are not alone. We are here for you, all of the other silent people longing to be heard, we are here for you and we love you. It is ok that you are having a hard time, you will see better days. Try to get there, cultivate joy where you can, but let our love hold you while you struggle to get there. You are loved, completely, accepted completely, somewhere, we just have to find the place where we belong. Until then, we love you.

A Good Friday Style Easter

This Easter was a hard one for me so far. On Friday, I saw a headline out of the corner of my eye, “When Easter feels like Good Friday.” I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

As I crawled through lent this year, my refrain was, Easter is almost here, Easter is almost here. Now that it was here it was almost harder in some ways. I felt like everything was supposed to be happy, we are supposed to be feasting, but I think I was in tears for half of this Easter week. I was exhausted from trying to reach the Resurrection and feeling like it’s so far away.

I repeated over and over “I believe,” because I choose to believe in the Resurrection and hope, but I heard myself in my head being like Martha, “I know we will rise, at the Resurrection of us all,” and then I crumble in fear for all of our struggles here. Jesus rose Lazarus after weeping with Martha when she said those words. I kept asking Him to understand where my fear is coming from and to be with me, and help me.

It feels arrogant though sometimes to ask for help when my worst problems are nothing compared to the horrors going on in the world. Every day there’s a new tragedy. Over 200 people died on Easter. How can we feast when the entire world is crying out in fear and pain? So I feel guilty for my joyful days, but then when I am caught up in my own misery I feel guilty for thinking my problems are anything in the grand scheme of things.

This Easter in particular was a weird one. How do you reconcile the birthday of Hitler/20th anniversary/national pot day with each other, let alone with Easter the next day? How do you reconcile incomparable world ending joy with unimaginable evil?

I think there was something happening this year. Something we couldn’t see. This lent it seemed like everyone was dying. Everytime I got on Facebook there was a new notification of someone dying. And these were not just any normal expected deaths, many of these were out of nowhere terrifying horrible things happening. The fire in Notre Dame was like a symbol for everything happening.

Yet there have been little moments when I have seen hope in the world. One night when the world seemed so heavy, and so many terrifying deaths had been announced, I fell to my knees(and I hate kneeling) and I just begged for mercy. The next day was the most beautiful day outside, the sun was shining and everyone was happy. So many people were talking about how the world felt so much lighter. I know that my prayers were not the only ones going up that night, but that time I felt prayer work.

I didn’t realize during lent that it was the 20th anniversary of Columbine. I found out on Holy Saturday, and it seemed only fitting. Something about the gravity of this year made sense with that being the case. I had hoped that on Easter there would be some great turn around and this year would turn into everyone’s most amazing year ever. I know that’s a little crazy, but I’ve always been known to have high expectations. I can’t help being an idealist.

Well, there wasn’t a huge immediate turn around, but I’m starting to see little changes in people and even bigger changes in me, so I don’t know, maybe it’s a battle we have to fight the long way, maybe we have to feel like we have earned it or we won’t appreciate it, or maybe it’s just too big of a battle for one moment to win, but whatever the case, I am working on fighting every little battle that is given to me, and I believe that one day we will see the battles we have won.

The Silence

For the last few weeks, I’ve barely posted on here. I felt guilty and I insulted myself for it, but it wasn’t until tonight that I realized what I was doing.

I have a bad habit of getting too caught up in what everyone else thinks about me. We have all heard that one, I guess, but for me it’s true. I am such a people pleaser that I have almost literally served myself to death at times. It takes a superhuman amount of strength for me to pull myself out of the shame spirals that result from this, because no matter how hard any person tries, you cannot please everyone every time. Which means that if you try you will just end up in a tornado of failed attempts.

Well, I got into my drafts this week, and I got to see concrete evidence of me letting my people pleasing kill my creativity. There was post after post that I remembered being so excited about posting, but then I felt awkward or embarrassed, or afraid. I doubted myself, and I let it keep me from posting and from writing.

I have fought this battle before and I will fight it again, but today it’s time for me to pick back up the pen, (figuratively, I don’t write with a stylus on here. 😉 )

My Worst Nightmare

I had every writers worst nightmare happen to me today. I got a good look at everything I don’t have. I don’t have writing credits, I don’t have many connections, I don’t have time, I don’t have so many things it hurts. I posted my own rec post, but I don’t know that it’s really meant for people like me. The other writers all seem to have something more than me, confidence, support, experience, again, time.

It’s an age-old problem for artists. I know this. Ive been trying to tell myself that all day today. This is the curse of being an artist, feeling like you have nothing to offer, and offering it anyway, and sometimes even acting like you have the world to offer, and sometimes thinking you do.

I read some entries for contests I was going to enter last night too, which didn’t help. On some level, I knew I was not at the same level as these people. I’m not a genius with dialogue, I don’t write character studies-yet. I’m not the perfect seasoned writer. But I did think my movies were worth seeing. Now I don’t know.

Today, I don’t know why I even bother. Today, I wonder if screenwriting was just a fantasy I made up in my head because being a kid was too hard. Maybe my parents and everyone who told me not to dream were right. Maybe what I have to say really doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m supposed to give it up. But I don’t want to. It is in my blood. It was my hope and my dream my entire life, and it never leaves me. No matter how hard I try to shut it up, or pretend I don’t want it, I breathe this.

It is what gives me hope while the entire world seems to be falling down around me. It is what gave me shelter when the whole world seemed too bleak to survive. I prayed, yes, and prayer matters, but deep down amidst the despair I need my voice to be heard, I need to do what I’m meant to do, and I do believe I’m meant to do this. God knows me, and He knows my heart, and He knows I have this in me. Even if I sound like a complete idiot to everyone around me.

I am terrified that I have this need and desire for no reason, that it’s some sort of joke from my own stupid psychosis and a God that doesn’t care. There have been times when my entire life is defined by this fear. I want to believe that God gives us our desires for a reason, and that He will fulfill them. On this, I place my hope, and I pray everyday that I’m not wrong.

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