Unperfect

“Gargh!!!” Her teeth grind against each other clamped against the flow of curse words begging to unleash on the world. Inhaling deeply, she realizes that her fists are balled into tight weapons, knuckles whiter than snow. She exhales slowing, grasping for mental strength, physical strength, spiritual strength. Anything at all to keep her grounded. Flexing her aching fingers, she reaches for perspective. It won’t always be like this. It won’t always be like this. It won’t always be like this.

It’s not a superhero facing her nemesis… it’s just me. It’s what seems like my day-to-day life. Now that I am a domestic engineer, I sometimes face the question, “So what do you do all day?” from unknowing potential victims. They don’t mean it ugly; they’re genuinely curious. But let me tell you, hun. The real question is, “What DON’T I do all day?”

I wear a lot of hats- wife, mother, friend, counselor, human Klenex, teacher, student, Christian, volunteer, plumber, laundress, chef, electrician, mechanic, just to name a few. Today, I drove up to Norman (after slightly losing what bit of sanity is left in my brain) to retrieve the fourth item needed to fix a toilet… only to fix that and have another part break. Buy one part, another breaks. It’s like a bad boyfriend that just keeps coming back. The people at ACE literally know my name, and on what days I actually wear makeup.

I actually made the comment to my husband earlier- “I am done with 2017. Can it be 2018, yet?” Sheesh. It’s only February 6th.

Sorry for the bunny trails- stay with me. I’ll do better.

It took the entire way home from my impromptu escapade to Norman for me to find that bit of sanity I had lost, and return to what I consider my normal. I needed a serious reset button today.

My reset came in the form of an old CD. One of the cool black ones that I burned back in the day and titled “Praise and Worship 2010” using a WhiteOut pen. I was ready for anything. Windows rolled down, wind slapped my hair against my face, carseats rattled in the background, and 2010 blared over my speakers. I sang what words I remembered at the top of my lungs. I was ready for anything. And I got it. I got my reset. I got my wake-up.

Lyrics from my past blasted around me:

This world is always trying to take a piece of me
But You are always there to make me feel complete
If I can keep my eyes on what You have for me
I will face the truth and never look away
You’ll show me the real me

The real me. With all these hats I wear, I forget who that is. The real me. I thought I’d accepted that she’s just hidden for a time and that it won’t always be like this. But the real me escaped as I cried out these words to God today.

The real me- she’s unperfect. I know that there’s no such word, but it’s better suited than imperfect. Imperfect means with flaws. I know I have those. But I am unperfect. The prefix “un” simply means “not”. And I am not perfect. I am a lot of things, but perfect, I am not.

Tears roll down my cheeks and my words begin to mumble beneath the feel of the reset.

It’s You that I search for
It is You I can’t live without
Your hope is what I long for
When nothing’s left in me
It’s You

The real me. The real me is a daughter. I am His daughter. God created me. He is a good father; He loves me though I am unperfect.

He loves me even when that string of curse words unleashes despite my attempts to hold it back. Because He is what I search for; He is what I can’t live without. It’s my Father’s love that keeps my grasp on the reality of this world when nothing is left in me. When I have nothing left to give, he requires nothing of me. He loves me for me because I am his unperfect daughter. His unperfectly, lovable daughter.

Reset. Who am I? Today, I was a lot of things; I wore a lot of hats. But underneath all of them, my identity is true. I am a daughter of the one true king, the God who created this world and all who are in it, the creator of unperfect people like me doing their best to remember that, in spite of all this world has to offer or all it throws my way, I am His.

 

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She Stands-Unabridged

She Stands

Snot melts from her left nostril, pooling with the tears streaming down her face. She dare not lick her lip though she instinctively feels the need. Desperation wells up inside of her tossing its ugly head, beating its fists against her rib cage. All the while she stands there immobile. Her body rebels against her screaming mind, “Run away!!” But she cannot go. She stays, looking up into a face she scarcely recognizes as his. Could he even be the same man whom she had loved? His was a face she had sought for love, comfort, direction and peace, now he is barely a shadow of who he once had been.

Guards shout at her to step away. “Move, you whore!” One shoves at her, but she keeps her ground. She pierces him with her eyes so that he dare not try again. She stares into their dirty, haggard faces, seething, trying to tamp down the hatred inside of her for these people. They, who have invaded her homeland, stolen from her and tarnished her soul, now trying to wrench her last moments with him. Her gaze is enough that they step aside avoiding the assault of her stare, leaving her grounded in the mud. She will not move. She will stand.

And stand she does. Tears continue to flow, but she moves not her face from his lest she miss. She watches each agonizing breath as he hangs to what little life there is left in his body. His face once so kind is now distorted and misshapen. She finds him revolting but is unable to look away. She yearns to meet his eyes, but they remain swollen shut. Just one glimpse from him is all she needs for the strength necessary in the days to come. Just one glimpse for her to know it wasn’t all just a terrible nightmare. Just one.

Darkness threatens her view of his face. Rain thickens the air tempting to release its fury over the waning crowd of onlookers. Flashes of lightning dance in the distance just off the mountaintops. It’s as if the sky mirrors her inner turmoil.

She stares unmoving into the pulp of his flesh trying to remember his softness, the softness that always lingered there even in turmoil. She remembers his tears that day. And her anger. He had not come. When her brother lay there dying in her arms, she had sent word to him, begging him to come. But he had not come.

She had sent word again the next day full of dread that her first letter had been lost, stomach turning that he might have simply ignored her. While she waited, helplessly she cared for her dying brother, writhing in his anguish, fighting death to the end. Her beloved brother, whose eyes mirrored her own, struggled to hang on to what little life was left. “Don’t worry, sister,” he had gasped, “He will come.” With that, he had wheezed, convulsed and with a final shutter left her alone in the room. Gritting her teeth, she slammed her fists into the cavernous chest of his emaciated body, beating into him the pulsating beat of her anger, hoping that its heat would make him live again. It had not. She had not cried then, nor did she cry now.

Still standing in the muck as the skies darken above her, the winds threaten to displace her. Her hair whips around her face reminding her of the tears she had finally shed that day.

Four days had passed, and her brother’s body lay cold in the tomb she had purchased for him. She, with her own, hard-earned, dirty money had purchased it. After it was done, she had sat staring into an ash filled hearth with crowds of people around her, crowds who three years ago would have had nothing to do with her. They would not have dared to step foot inside her house. Smiling bitterly, she continued to stare.

A loud cry had interrupted her tumultuous thoughts. “He has come!” Her sister’s flushed, paunchy face was filled with joy as she labored for breath.

Too late, she cursed mentally. “What do I care now?” her eyes bore a hole through the brick, and she fought the emotions warring within her.

Her sister stood beside her, “He is asking for you.”

Her heart flipped and without warning, her legs carried her through the door knowing the way without prompting. Skirts flying all around, her mind whirled with the stares of people nearby blurring them in the dust. Seeing him in the distance, she pulsed forward, skirts flapping around her ankles.

She had fallen in the dirt without grace and clasped his dusty, road beaten sandals. “If you had been here, my brother would NOT have died!” She had stared at his feet, frightened of what he might see in her face. Frightened that he would sense the sheer desperation wrapped in anger at him, all directed at him for not being there when she had needed him. She pinched her eyes shut, willing the tears to stay behind her lids. She would not cry.

A thunder clap above echoes the distant memory of her anger in that past moment. She senses that the heavens feel her pain even now as he had then. “Please, God. Please,” she prays, hoping for a morsel of mercy. The guards continue to push and taunt at the crowds, but not one of the men enters her line of vision. Numbness replaces the hate and anger. She stands.

Her mind carries her back to that moment in the dirt at the tomb of her brother. His sandaled feet clasped in her hands, rage emanated from within her. These same feet that she would later wash with her tears and hair, now gripped beneath her curling fingers squeezing them as to maintain her grip on the world. Shutting her eyes tighter, she had silently willed him to speak. Face bent forward fighting the heat inside her, she felt his calloused hand on the crown of her head, tenderly but firmly. His touch spoke volumes more than his words. The dam had burst. Hot tears sprung forth from her eyes, and she had finally wailed in anguish. The pain of her loss, anger of his absence, despair of hopelessness had sprouted from her shaking her from the inside out. That loss so significant at the time, proves nothing compared to this day. A bitter smile plays across her lips at the irony of it all.

Suddenly, he moves. Just a fragment. But he moved. She watches as he fights the swelling to open his eyes. His kinds eyes are still there, hidden beneath the folds of flesh and suffering. She remembers them on that day. Though buried in bruises and lacerations, her mind reels to a moment when they were once covered in softness. It reminds her that once she had finally met his eyes, despite her anguish, they were also filled with tears. Her mind pulls her back to that moment- the moment she realized he did love her beyond what she may have ever imagined. In the loss of her brother, in her despair, she had found comfort in his eyes. For in his eyes, she had seen the same emotions she felt, though their cause was quite different. As she had looked in his eyes, there was hurt, but not of loss. Her lack of faith had hurt him. Her lack of trust had wounded his soul. Her pain of loss had yielded his infinite compassion. He had wept with her and for her. That was the miracle that day. The miracle of realizing the expanse of his love.

Now those eyes struggle against the weight upon them. Slowly, painfully, she watches as he fights to open them. Rather than finding her face, he seeks the sky. Grimacing as he tilts his head upward, his eyes find the clouds above. She watches, fighting the urge to grasp him, pull him to her, and make the moment go away. Her heart bursts in her chest as she watches helplessly, unable to offer him anything in his moment of suffering. Yet she stands.

The clouds let loose a thunderous roar. Her feet, caked in mud, reverberate beneath her, but she does not move her face away from his to look. The crowds scream as the ground begins to shake, yet she stands. Over the chaos, she can barely hear him.

“My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” His voice, strong as it once had been, is now stricken with defeat and agony. His loneliness pierces her heart. His desperate cry slaps her across the face. Yet she remains standing.

She watches as a tear slides down the cavernous wounds in his face, dripping from his chin. His head slowly sinks downward toward his chest. His eyes, for just a moment, meet hers before closing. Before eternity was changed.

 

Happily Ever Never

She gazed fixedly at the couple just a few tables away. The lady, probably once beautiful, twirled the pink umbrella in her drink, apparently more interested in the designs she was making in the frozen concoction rather than her present company. Said company was a man, slightly balding yet attractive rapidly typing away on his phone, clicking sounds resonating through the restaurant. Each click seemed like it tapped directly into her brain as she watched the two of them. Click. Click. Click. Faster and faster as she watched.

Aware that she as completely unobserved, she unabashedly watched the two for quite some time. The woman’s full lips were painted red, turned in a slight frown that matched her drawn eyebrows. She was dressed smartly in a black blazer and jeans with grey booties. Her auburn hair fell long around her shoulders but was pulled back on top by a clippie, the only sign that fashion was probably not at the top of her priority list. Occasionally, the lady would bring the straw to her mouth, sipping heavily of the drink before returning to her musings. Every so often, she would look around the restaurant as though waiting for someone else to appear, some one who might entertain her and fill the void with more than clicking noises.

The clicking noises only paused every other minute while the man took a drag from the bourbon setting in front of him. Ice melted slowly in the amber liquid causing a pool of water around the glass on the wooden table. She watched as the man sipped without even taking his eyes from the screen in his hand. His eyes never left the phone. It was almost a talent. He seemed completely unaware that the woman was even across the table from him. Unlike hers, his face was one of peace. Lines formed across his brow, but did not crease or shoot upward in surprise. It’s as if there was no emotion what-so-ever. Just him, his bourbon and the clicking sound.

She wondered what brought this couple to this place in time. The dull gleam of rings indicated that they were married, and given their age, it must have been for some time. Both were relatively attractive people. Surely it was that which had first drawn them together. She allowed herself to imagine them as they may have been 20 years ago. She with shorter hair and 15 pounds lighter, was quite the catch. He, head full of dark hair and athletically built, holding his arm out so that she might escort him to a party. Him smiling at her as though nothing else in the world existed. Both of them dressed to the nines.

“Ah hem”. The smiling waiter interrupted her thoughts, blurring the party’s details. “Anything else?” His youthful face begged that she would say yes. His hope for increasing his tips for the night was plastered over pimples and barely-there whiskers.

She smiled, “Yes, please. Another of these.”

“Very well. Be back in a second!” He beamed at her and left.

Returning to her musings, she pictured the couple on the beach, sipping margaritas with the same pink umbrellas, leaving them to melt and wading out into the ocean. The man swinging the lady around, her head tossed back in estatic laughter, only to draw it in toward his smiling face for a passionate kiss. Then splashing back to their towels on the sand, dissolving in fits of giggles.

Maybe it wasn’t always so picturesque, but she took comfort in giving them some sort of benefit of the doubt. Surely their lives couldn’t always have been this way.

Her waiter returned, exchanging her empty glass for a new one. Thanking her with his eyes.

Looking down into her glass, she frowns. This poor couple, she thought, looking up over her glass for another peek. They sit here in this restaurant hardly even acknowledging one another. It’s so tragically sad. Sipping her drink and finding it satisfactory, she stares over at the couple again.

The man has set down his phone, tossing back whatever remains there were of his bourbon. The woman’s drink is nearly gone, pink umbrella still swirling around in her fingers. She has yet to look at her husband.

Gosh, these two are such a sad couple. What a terrible date. She shudders at the thought of them and thinks to herself. Lord, I hope that never happens to us. 

“You ready?” The voice from across the table makes her jump. So caught up in her own observations, she’d almost forgotten he was there.

“Sure.” She twists the pink umbrella out of the glass, dropping it to the table, and stands to leave.

 

Musings from the Sky

Looking from the airplane window at the slowly setting sun, my thoughts traveled toward a friend of mine and his latest endeavor. I began writing what I thought would be words of caution to him, but the longer I thought, the more my mind wandered. These are just a few of my musings from the sky.

We are so small, so insignificant. Only in our realization of such can we be truly free. It frees us from what seems so relevant, so significant, so weighty. We realize that these earthly, minute endeavors of ours are all nothingness. None of it will last. All that lasts is what is beyond us. Yet, we are too minuscule to comprehend the reality of life beyond what  our eyes portray to our brains. Our eyes deceive us, telling us that what we see is what there is. They are our enemies as they do not see beyond the insignificant matters. Only our heart can do that. Only our heart joined with the ache within our souls can open our minds to the reality of what life is. Life is not about obtaining things, achieving glory or maintaining health. It is about an eternal endeavor, and endeavor to lead our souls into a paradise where nothing matters beyond the praise of a Heavenly Father… a father whose glory is so great that an eternity of praise is still too incomplete, falling short of the measure of praise his glory truly deserves.

So these “here and now” worries are nothing in light of the future that awaits us. A future where only one action, one desire matters at all. And that is to bring honor to the creator of this world- the creator of this universe and all it holds. He, who in this moment looks upon us and our fears, desiring that we should desire him above all else. Only in that deep-rooted desire of Him will we ever know peace. Only in understanding the insignificance of these earthly worries and fears will we realize the futility of them. Their futility is borne in their temporariness. Knowing that our entire physical life is meant only to bring praise and honor to Him who created us, and anything beyond that is tiresome to our souls.

I Hate You

“Come on, Mom!” I whined, pleading with her to save me.

“No, Tara Anne. You come get this phone right now.” She held her hand over the receiver pushing the cordless toward me.

“But I do NOT want to talk to him,” I whispered hysterically as I unwillingly reached for it. I was already borderline arguing, even though I knew it was to no avail.

She shoved the phone into my outstretched hand. “Don’t be rude!”

Rolling my eyes, I pressed it to my face. “Hello?” I asked like I don’t already know who’s there.

Mom never was one for getting me out of phone conversations I didn’t want to have. It was usually someone that I just didn’t want to talk to. Or didn’t have the time to talk to. Or who just couldn’t take a hint.

Little did I know, that was the good ol’ days. We had a land line. We had to call long-distance. Long distance cost extra money. We had an answering machine that beeped and sometimes deleted important messages on its own. We had to memorize a phone number. We could be gone, and NO one could find us.

Just imagine. You’re at Wal-Mart. Shopping. Roaming the aisles. Perusing at your leisure. No one texts. No one calls. No beeping, jingles, songs, dings, pings, or other annoying sounds. Just shopping. Your whole attention devoted to getting whatever is on your list. Nothing in the world to stop you from conquering that grocery list.

That has not happened to me. I swear, it’s like I walk into Wal-Mart, and the world knows it. Besides knowing half of the people shopping or working there, the other half of my acquaintances are texting me about God-knows-what. And do I have to look at it? No. Not really. But do I HAVE to look at it? Yes. Because someone needs me. Or needs to tell me something. It’s like I’m Pavlov’s dog and that beep indicates that another human being requires my time, and it must be immediately tended to. To wait would be to evoke the anxiety of wondering what is needed of me. I. MUST. ANSWER. NOW. (pant, pant, slobber, slobber)

Forget my cell phone at home…. there is hell to pay. How dare you NOT take it with you? It’s like oxygen. Must. have. cell. phone. to. live.

It’s absolutely ridiculous. This insane reaction to reach for my phone. That phone that is now my camera, map, personal assistant, calendar, email, social network, oh yeah… and occasionally I actually CALL people on it. It’s just there. And when it’s not there, it’s weird. Like when my wedding ring isn’t on my left hand. And it seems like I’m almost as committed to it as I am my husband who put that ring on my hand. (Only, I like him WAY more, and he doesn’t require nearly as much from me as that dang phone.) That phone that I hate.

I realized the depth of my hatred for cell phones after the birth of my second son. There I was- sweaty, shaky, coming out of my blissful epidural stage of comatose wonder, holding this beautiful, dark-headed beauty. I worked hard and long… 13 hours to bring this baby into the world to share him with others. It was finally the climactic point of the show- the grandparents and other family members were there with us. I looked down at his cherub face, and up at all of them. And you know what? EVERY single person had his/her head down looking at their phones. Every one of them. I was holding this beautiful creature, and the audience was distracted. In their defense, they were sending pix and news of his birth, I know. But in my hazy, emotional state, I did not care at that moment. But the time for ‘ooooohing’ and ‘aahhhhhing’ was there- tainted by that dang phone. It would have been a whole different scene without that dang phone. (Plenty of oohs and aaahhs have been made to compensate since then, I guarantee you.)

But I do hate cell phones. I hate text messaging. I hate everything about them. I hate that they have usurped a decent conversation and the art of communication. I hate that my kids will NEVER understand the bliss of being in a car without the distraction of their phone. I hate that because of phones, which once brought people together, now cause distance and coldness.

Don’t even get me started on group messaging…

Mine

Pain grips my heart so tightly my lungs feel its pain. Throbbing, bursting within its cage, it fights to maintain a hold. The pieces of it struggle for freedom, but sheer strength keeps it together. I cannot lose a grip now. Everything is fine. It’s all okay. You’re all right. My mind ticks off bland statements of reassurance. But then, I meet their eyes, their sad, solemn eyes. Any hold I have shatters, and pieces of my heart float down into the pit of my stomach. My stomach knots, trying to brace itself against their intrusion. I beg my legs to stay in place, not to run to each of them, hug them and let them know I care.

They don’t understand. They don’t understand that even though they are not mine, they are mine. They, well most of them, will always hold a special place in my heart. Even when they speak ugly of me, hate me for reasons beyond what I understand, ignore the potential I see in them, or move on as though I was just “some teacher”, they will remain in my heart as mine. Because my students are just that. They are mine. Am I tough on them? Yes. Because I love them enough to push them into better things. Do I hug them? Yes. Because some of them are not hugged often enough. Do I wipe their tears? Listen to their fears? Banter back and forth with them? Yes. Because they are mine- they are MY students, my kids.

So as I watched those boys file past me in the gym today as the funeral ended, my heart was obliterated. Not so much from my pain, but from that which was so evident on their faces. Faces that are those of boys who are not yet men, striving to be strong in this time of loss. Though I am so, so sad to lose Cameron, a boy who, as everyone knows, was sweet, kind, and an all-around great kid, I am mourning for my other kids. Cameron, I know, is hanging out waiting for us to join him later.

But for those kids who remain, my kids who remain, who still have the challenge of loss, my heart is broken and tears fall.

Hearing from the other end of the phone, “Mrs. Dyson, he’s gone” will forever haunt me. That sweet voice, which is normally so bubbly, so full of wonder, calling to tell me the news was full of such pain and overwhelming suffering. Her tears seemed to leak through the phone and fall onto my shoulder. I swear I felt them. But I was too far away to offer that hug. That hug that she wanted, that I so very much needed. Her pain, her loss became mine in that moment. Because she is one of mine.

Now here we are. Here we are telling ourselves, “Cameron wants us to…”, “Cameron would say…”, and “My, look at that storm outside.” Here we are with our wonderful memories, our tears and laughter, our storms and peace. Here we are. Together. Because we are friends. Because we are family. And I grieve with my kids as they grieve together. And we rise together.

And we remember just one of those special kids- one whom I am fortunate enough to call mine.  

She Stands

Snot melted from her left nostril, pooling with the tears streaming down her face. She dare not lick her lip though she instinctively felt the need. Desperation welled up inside of her tossing its ugly head, beating its fists against her rib cage. All the while she stood there immobile. Her body rebelled against her screaming mind, “Run away!!” But she could not go. She stayed. Looking up into a face she scarcely recognized. Could he even be the same man whom she had loved? His was a face she had sought for love, comfort, direction and peace, now he was barely a shadow of who he once had been.

Guards shouted at her to step away. “Move, you whore!” One shoved at her, but she kept her ground. She pierced him with her eyes so that he dare not try again. She stared into their dirty faces, seething, trying to tamp down the hatred inside of her for these people. They, who had invaded her homeland, stolen from her and tarnished her soul, now trying to wrench her last moments with him. Her gaze was enough that they stepped aside avoiding the assault of her stare, leaving her grounded in the mud. She would not move. She would stand.

And stand she did. Tears continued to flow, but she moved not her face from his lest she miss. She watched each agonizing breath as he hung to what little life there was left in his body. She sought to meet his eyes, but they remained swollen shut. Just one glimpse from him is all she needed for the strength necessary in the days to come. Just one.

Darkness threatened her view of his face. “Please, God. Please.” She prayed, hoping for a morsel of mercy. The guards continued to push and taunt at the crowds, but not one entered her line of vision. Numbness replaced the hate and anger. She stood.

Suddenly, he moved. Just a fragment. But he moved. She watched as he fought the swelling to open his eyes. His eyes, his kind eyes were still there, hidden beneath the folds of flesh and suffering. Rather than finding her face, he sought the sky. Grimacing as he tilted his head upward, his eyes found the clouds above. She watched, fighting the urge to grasp him, pull him to her, and make the moment go away. Her heart burst in her chest as she watched helplessly, unable to offer him anything in his moment of suffering. Yet she stood.

The clouds let loose a thunderous roar. The crowds screamed as the ground began to shake, yet she stood. Over the chaos, she barely heard him.

“My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” His voice, strong as it once had been, was stricken with defeat and agony. His loneliness pierced her heart. His desperate cry slapped her across the face. Yet she remained standing.

She watched as a tear slid down the cavernous wounds in his face, dripping from his chin. His head slowly sank downward toward his chest. His eyes, for just a moment, met hers before closing. Before eternity was changed.

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Imagining the scene at the foot of the cross of Jesus is heart wrenching. Place yourself in the shoes of one who loved Jesus, but who, despite the greatest attempts, could not understand him. This love, this devotion must have been unlike any other. It was not romantic, conditional, familial, or earned. Their love for Jesus was innate, instinctive.

This writing is not from the perspective of Mary, Jesus’ mother, nor of Mary Magdalene. It is that of Salome.

Mark 15:40 states: “Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.” Who was Salome?

I don’t know. But whoever she was, she was brave enough to stand at the cross when others had deserted Jesus. History tells us little, but this verse tells us much.

According to the historian Josephus, Salome was the name of King Herod’s step-daughter, whose mother wanted the head of John the Baptist. Could they be one in the same? Or is that name just a common one, as ‘Mary’ was? Perhaps this girl, who once danced provocatively in front of a king for gifts became one of the very first Christians. Just my imagination running wild…

A Father’s Love

Oh that I could only erase her pain, he thought as he stood, sand swirling around his feet. The sun beat down upon his dark hair, and he lifted his eyes to the heavens for just a moment. He peered into the faces surrounding him, faces he knew and loved. He found his mother’s face crumpled in the despair of her loss. Those soft honey-colored eyes leaking out her sadness from the depths of her soul. She looked not at him but at the shrouded figure of her husband, his father… well, his earthly father, the man he had called ‘father’. This man who loved him just as he loved his own biological children. Now sleeping.

Memories rushed over him… even his earliest memories as a toddling baby involved the strong hands of his father soothing him, caressing him, teaching him. Those strong hands were the same that taught him all he knew of carpentry. He remembered watching his father’s sinewy arms strip the bark from trees as he molded them strategically into something with purpose. Just as he had done the the trees, this man had molded him into something more with great purpose.

His own tears clung desperately to his dark lashes. He was not saddened by his own loss, as he knew it was only temporary. But his heart broke over his mother’s mourning. This man, her husband, who had every right to toss her aside only 18 years before, was her greatest friend. He alone knew and believed the truth. The time had not yet come for others to know.

Parting his way through the crowd, he made his way to his mother’s side and wound his fingers with hers. Opening her eyes, she peered into the face her son, her own son, so different from that of her other children, and smiled wistfully. Yes, she thought, he understands. We shall meet again soon. Clutching his hand, she bowed her head to thank God.

 

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So I imagine it must have been for Jesus when Joseph parted from this world. Joseph, who by the time Jesus is 13, is no longer mentioned in scripture. We know that Joseph went on to have children of his own as they are given mention and even names, but he would not. Only his selflessness in accepting God’s son is known to us. (But by no greater accomplishment can we be known.) Past the birth of Jesus, little is said about him or known of him. Joseph, who followed God and guided God’s son, must have been one of the greatest men to be disremembered by history.

 

 

Pursuit

I’ve no ideas running, huffing and puffing around in my brain that ought to be shared. There. Truth from the start.  You know that while normally I’d begin this post with a witty statement or descriptive scene, I just don’t feel like it. My heart is heavy.

Not too long ago, I came across a poem I wrote a few years ago. (Rarely do I share my poetry as it is usually written in the spur of the moment or during a breeze of emotion.) I find myself in this place too often; a place where I yearn to dwell in God’s presence and know that He loves me, but find myself too unclean to stay, running from the ugliness that is a human being, and one so unworthy.

However, I remind myself that I am constantly being pursued regardless of what I do.

My Pursuer

The horizon blinks and gazes at me,

Challenging all I hear and all I see.

What does it mean to simply ‘be’?

Can one just exist while living and breathing?

 

You are everywhere and nowhere at once.

Your presence and love my only compass.

Yet it is not within my physical vision,

as if hidden too far beyond my reason.

 

Reason- my utmost enemy.

The complexities of faith astound me.

How can something, someone even be,

if that thing I cannot touch or see?

 

Yet you chase me, and I am captured.

Your love, my soul enrapture.

Reveling, marveling in your infinite grace.

Your arms surround me in strong embrace.

 

My unworthiness brings me shame.

I dare not to utter your precious name.

Yet your fingers gently lift my face,

and I stare into that infinite space.

 

My tears of shame are wiped away,

and in your grace you bid me stay.

The sheer blackness of my being,

Keeps me, blocks me from seeing.

 

Seeing again who I am in you.

You, who alone can see me true.

All those things I desire hidden,

you uncover, and forgive unbidden.

 

To know it is me that you so cherish.

My actions warrant not its merit.

No thing I do nor that I so decline,

would cause you to reject or despise.

 

I am your beloved, and my beloved is mine.

This relationship, your greatest design.

Yet darkness tries again to steal,

all I feel of you that is real.

 

Trapped in a thunderous whirlwind

blinded and caught in my deadly sin.

My own soul wretchedly mocks and taunts,

remembers all the shame I once wrought.

 

Still again you earnestly pursue.

There is nothing I could ever do,

that you would turn your lovely face,

away from all of my disgrace.

 

Reaching for my reluctant hand,

once again you make your willful stand.

Constant reminders of your affections,

Purest, seen most in nature’s reflections.

 

The purest love song have you written,

Dare I think with me you are smitten?

Arms open, tears roll down your face,

longing to wrap me in accepting embrace.

 

Finally, I surrender and succomb,

to your perpetual love you beg I come.

Resting as a child in a mother’s enfolding,

Acceptance of your grace no longer withholding.

 

It is now I find my truest evidence

In your perceptible, tangible presence.

It is here forever I must remain.

To live is Christ, to die is gain.

~Tara Dyson

November 16, 2012

This is How We Became…

She could not believe what she was hearing. The inside of her ears itched like a thousand tiny beetles were burrowing out. Her brain rattled from inside its cage in her head. How in the world could he actually say all of that?  Just as steam was about to flare from her nostrils, she quickly turned and fled the scene of the crime leaving in her wake the shattered pieces of her heart.

No, it’s not a break up scene. It’s not reality tv. It’s just every day life. People say one thing but mean another. People do one thing but with the wrong intentions.  People want but do not give. People just are people.

Except when they aren’t just people. When they are Christian people… well, that’s just a whole new level. In the church, people are expected to have the super human strength to be not-so-human. We are expected to possess a certain infallibility of character. Why? (Because too often we possess a self-righteousness that warrants it- ahem, cough cough.) We also sometimes forget that just because we love Jesus and call ourselves followers of Him doesn’t make us any less human than anyone who doesn’t.

Then there’s the flip side.

How often do we run into people who have given up on the church because they have been (for lack of a better term) screwed over? Often times it’s all because of ONE person. Because of one person, people give up on an entire belief system. How did that one person come to possess such power? Easy. They professed to be a Christian. And with that title,  there is an aura of expected perfection.

But we aren’t. We. Are. Not. Perfect. There is nothing perfect about Christianity except Christ himself. Shoot- if there was, there would be ONE denomination, not 15 million. And you know what? Christians hurt other Christians, which is almost worse than when a non-believer is the injured one. Why? Because we are supposed to be family. We have our Father, and we are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. And because we are family, we are bound to injure one another. No family is perfect. No church is perfect. No Christian is perfect. No person is perfect.

As a student in Bible college, I was continually hurt by other believers. Either I was not “Christian enough”, or I did not do enough “Christian things” or spend enough time in “Christian activities”. Finally, after a serious rebuff from a leader in my church, I said, “To hell with this all” and left. I had had enough of these Christians.  They made life way too hard for this college student, and I just wanted to follow Jesus and do as He had commanded. I didn’t need all this undue pressure from others to perform. I just wanted to love Jesus! Was it too much to ask?!?!? Fortunately, after a rebellious streak (which only ended up hurting me and not them), I had an epiphany and was okay. I did learn a few valuable lessons from it…

But you know what? Christians hurt other Christians. Because we ARE family. Despite our troubles and difficulties, we ultimately share a love for the same Father. We may not always agree, and our disagreements cause discord which pains our Father, but we are imperfectly striving for the same goal. When I left that church, I left in bitterness and in pain. They had hurt me. But I had allowed them to. I had allowed their expectations of me cloud God’s expectations of me. He has never asked perfection. He asked me to follow Him and love others. It’s simple really. The more you fall in love with Him, the more you become like Him. And in becoming like Him, your love for others grows.

So while we may fuss and fight, please remember… we are not perfect. None of us are. The high expectations of others only immobilizes our ability to do as Christ commanded us. Love one another… in the good, the bad and the ugly times.