Christian Prostitute.

The occasional ding, ding of a heart monitor. Halls mostly quiet. Patients waiting behind drawn curtains — dozing off. Nurses, doctors, the social worker (me), we are upright but mostly sleepwalking. A rather demanding case has been completed, I quickly grab free clipboard and head for the next challenge, room 32. Knock knock I say as I slip behind the curtain into dimmed room. Slight frame shivers under the white blanket.

Working in the trenches changes people. It has changed me. I once lived in an Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories world — identifying all persons as either good or bad. Things done right or done wrong. Christian or sinner. As a kid, I heard it everywhere. The message simple. People who choose rightly and act accordingly belong to the kingdom of God. People who make wrong choices and act wrong belong to the Darkness. Kind of a Yankees — Red Sox rivalry, never to be blurred, each with its own uniform and identifying ways. It’s understandable why adults tell children these things. The hope is to prevent the child from doing something that will harm them. Still, the overall message is a lie.

From the vantage of a congested urban emergency room for about 20 years as a psychiatric social worker, hours of interviews with people, teeth black from meth, bodies covered in abscesses from heroin use, faces broken and deformed from domestic violence, infected by prostitution, my view has been close up. An hour or so of taking history, huddled on cot and head down, the tears and shame of it all, I end the interview by asking, “How have you managed to survive?” and many times I’ve heard the same answer, through tears… “I never would have made it without Jesus.”

We have this idea that when we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, there is a certain something about us that is different from what I just described above. I know Jesus stabilizes our lives. That’s the hope we all have, isn’t it? Why, then, after I gave my life to Jesus, do I still have a temper? Why do I still use foul language when I’m stressed out, even though I try hard not to? Why do I say unkind things to my children though I’ve taught my kids that Christians don’t want to be unkind?

God HAS changed me over the years. Cleared out much of what kept me stuck. At the same time, I’m not being kicked and hit and torn at. I’m not being raped. I’m not being lied to. I’ve had resources. I have strong friends, many for over 30 and 40 years. Friends who love and support me. I have a safe and loving husband. I have a job, and food and shelter.

God describes how we can tell if a person is a Christian or not “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35. Love is different from addiction-free. Love and a cycle of hell sometimes coexist. If the church today were to write a list of Christian identifiers, the list would most likely look like this: “By this everyone will know you are Christ’s disciples, if you are strong, do well financially, dress well, are emotionally healthy, have a stable group of friends, are not addicted to meth, not shooting heroine, not living on the streets, not living with an abuser, etc..” Love and disaster in this life are not mutually exclusive. Love and human weakness.  The best of us and the worst.  Who we want to be and who we really are.

The God I’ve come to know while sitting alongside emaciated human shivering under thin white blanket on hospital cot is a God who does not abandon when we are too weak to get out from under the hell we’ve found ourselves in. God reaches into our darkness and holds onto us. In reality, not one of us fully escapes this sordid life till we step to the other side. The wretch we distance ourselves from has been made in God’s Image, very well could be my brother in Christ, my very own sister. Our mansions in Glory just might be parked side by side. Eternal neighbors with the hooker I turn my face from when light turns red on my way to work, good girl that I am, bad girl that she is. Sisters.

A fantasy, really, of us and them. The Bible teaches of the saved and the lost. Still, scripture reminds us that we as humans must not be the ones to determine who is lost and who’s saved. The sad reality is that if Jesus held hand and walked broken little prostitute into church this Sunday, I’m certain we wouldn’t recognize Jesus, and wouldn’t accept his company. I’m guessing your church would do as poorly as mine. No room in the inn. What would we do with her language? Her habits? With her reality? With his lack of discernment? We’d have difficulty making sense of her life. We’d question His love for her. Because Christians are liars. Our problem is not that we don’t believe that God cares for broken humans. The problem is our refusal to come to terms with our broken human self. We lie to ourselves about ourselves. We quick turn away from who we really are, causing us to quick turn away from anyone whose wounds are showing. Ultimately causing us to hide from Jesus. “Adam, where are you?” The question bounces off the emptiness of our lonely existence, God still searching for our hiding selves.

”Oh, it can’t be that bad!” “Praise God in all things” and on we blather, using God’s Word to shut each-other up from speaking truth about our real and messy lives. So much evil in denial. God Himself is the most solid model of seeing all, telling all, and loving, even-though. Scripture is full of stories — stories of what really happened. God’s people were often up to no good, he corrected them and yet continued to own them as His, His own broken kids, even when they were despicable.

There has been a lot of talk recently about churches and why women in domestically violent situations are less safe at church. It’s true. And the reason, Christians have fine tuned pretending. Telling a woman who is being beat at home ‘…all things work together for good’, ‘men are wild at heart, honey’ — yes, words spoken to battered women — words that kept her in a dangerous situation far too long.

When my patient’s arrive for therapy, they need help. They are willing to own what is. Every person who sees real change has a single thing in common. They are done pretending. There is a willingness to lay it out there, even despite the consequences. Because they want wholeness more than face saving. They want to get well more than to avoid pain. They also realize on an intuitive level that face-saving does harm, and so they pursue honesty.

Jesus Powerful Cross leaned hard on the wall between God and us and broke that wall down. The Cross tore the curtain from top to bottom, the wall that separated us from the Presence of God…. drawing us closer, still closer to himself. Not the pretend part of us. But all of us. Even the disgusting parts of us.

I think the sin of the church in our century is the sin of pretension (deceit).

Lying to ourselves about who we have been and who we really are. Minimizing our stories. Holding up the wall between us and them by pretending about us. The people hurting and wounded will never be accepted until I replace pretension with a good hard look at my own compost pile of a life, I embrace my actual story, I see the way God’s grace has met me in my pain. When I do, I am filled with love for others like me, with messes like mine, and there is acceptance.

Street Sheep. Jesus precious kids.

Baby girl born to house of drugs, molestation and rape since age 4, a runaway at 10 who became a prostitute for the safety of the thing, now trapped. desperately needs me to see her not as despicable but as made in Holy God’s Image.

Woman deformed from years of domestic abuse, I’ve seen her again, and again, every fresh visit to the ER, I work hard to provide her a hiding place, she always returns for more of the same, and is broken again, and much worse than the time before. Silent and tears, and shame. She repeats in a whisper “Jesus, Jesus, ….” She is my sister. Walking through this life alongside each other. Both needing Jesus to save us from ourselves. Both hopelessly stupid. Both clinging.

Man with abscesses from heroin. All the warnings in the world and he’s at it again, and worse off than ever. The PTSD war horror that he tries to manage in ways he knows how, and finally the needle is the only thing that stops the pain, and it will kill him. He always asks for prayer, tears streaming. My own brother. Together we strive to survive, letting Jesus hold us.

I can see them, the masses. The despicable. The broken down by life. The ones I distance myself from. Unbathed. Teeth mostly gone. Faces hardened by life. Bodies stiff from life under the bridge. Oh when the saints go marching in…. The lady who pulls eyebrows out and most of her hair – since the rape, forever pulling. The man stuttering his answers, face red from shame. The child covered in blood, still alive, saw it all. The young boy had never used a drug, talked into it at some festival, word salad and parts of words is all he can manage, and the rocking. His heartbroken parents with no answers. The confused Grandma who lives alone with her cats in a trailer. The dirty woman who just can’t get clean – life in the shelter, safer than home… I see them all together – moving forward, full of muted love for a Jesus who knew it all, never left, and refused to let go – they move together forward…. Oh when they march around the throne, when they march around the throne, I want to be in that number, when they march around the throne. 

 

Oh When The Saints Go Marching In: Black Spiritual

Thanks to Ian Espinosa for image.

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Joe and Donna – Thank you.

It was a winter day when I first remember Joe. Pretty sure I’d met him before, that’s just the day that comes to mind. The day I’d had enough of the darkness — was done trying to stay alive. The day I didn’t care anymore, gathered my 15 year old bulimic suicidal hair pulling self, boots and long black coat, and headed toward the freeway in hopes some crazy trucker would pick me up and I’d end up anywhere — I couldn’t kill myself, maybe somebody would help me out. Shaking with the self loathing of the thing, I stepped through heavy glass doors of the girls dorm out into the darkness of the evening. No one in sight, I hurried through campus winds toward the road. I don’t remember how it happened but there was a giant man coming toward me from the road — looked down so wouldn’t have to answer any questions as was pretty sure it was a teacher or staff of the school… he asked them anyway… “Young lady, where you going?” I don’t remember the rest. I’m sure I was tongue tied — tears, I don’t know. Never was any good at lying. All I know is that Joe took me across the street to his house to spend the night with his family. Remember nothing of that night except that I slept in sleeping bag on carpeted floor of their library just off living room. Remember being taken to counseling a few days later. Remember getting a job at the library that his wife Donna ran. After that night, I was always welcome in their home.

So many memories. Reading Pat McManus books in their living room. All of us laughing till our sides hurt. Joe rattling off math facts, hoping I’d pick up a few facts myself. Sorry, Joe, the math facts never stuck. Donna talking me into doing aerobics with her and a bunch of old ladies — (they were all in their 20’s and 30’s:) Donna inviting me to help her linseed oil their getaway cabin in mystic land of wilderness. The hours out in Joe’s automotive shop, hanging there when I had nowhere else to go. When the money ran out for me to stay at the school, having to call a dozen or so strangers — ‘Can you sponsor me to stay at Mount Ellis’ I wanted the floor to swallow me up, but then Joe said, come on, you can do this. And so I did. I got all the support I needed to keep going. I remember the stress of an audition for choir. Out in shop, Joe would tell me to try it. In the library Donna would tell me I would do fine. I did. Would hear me sing the song during choir tour — he drove bus, they would always tell me I did great.

Joe — the bus driver. He was the Abominable Snowman. Snow was not a problem to him. It was a challenge, kind of the way he took on the rest of life. Once the windshield wipers broke while we were barreling down the road. (I would stand up front as I’d get very nauseated back of bus.) Since I was up there anyway, he asked me to pull a level back and forth that he’d rigged up — keeping the glass clear so he could keep schedule and get another busload of kids to the next concert.

Joe was gruff and large and bearded and dark eyed. Not a guy I’d ever feel comfortable around… except that under the gruff was a guy who cared. A human being. And besides, Joe had his exact opposite, a wife who was as approachable as a meadow of happy flowers. She invited me to help her paint her brick brown fireplace all lovely white. Our work produced a fine looking makeover. I helped her wallpaper, do housework, organize library cards. She taught me things, and also shared hard things in her life. Told me about the day she and Joe, her boys and two of their friends went camping. About the tree that came down middle of night — right through the little boys tent. Her boys lived. The two brothers in the middle didn’t. How the other family lost all their children at one gust of surly wind. Tree that robbed them all of the feeling that life is safe.

Tree did it again, a number of years ago, when it hurt Joe bad, in the back. And this week, tree took Joe away. Joe, the rough-round-the-edges, who cared deeply.

Joe, Donna’s life.

Joe, Dad to three kids.

Joe, Grandpa of more.

The guy who helped random kids find better footing –

sent them out for catching strays

in world of surly wind and hopelessness.

Too many kids to count.

And that, no tree can take.

Thanks Jaunathan Gagnon, for the photo.

Beethoven

Dimmed light of the music studio, I sat listening to my 9 year old play a halted Fur Elise, her first time through – blond braids moving to the rhythm. The teacher asked her if she had heard the story of the man who wrote the song.  She shook her head no and continued to play – mighty hard for her to stop once she gets started.  And while she played the tune over and over he told the story of a little boy who played the piano.  About the way his dad must have been proud of his abilities as he was bound and determined to make a child prodigy of him – the next Mozart.  So determined he was that while the boy played, his dad would rage and beat the boy, slamming the lid of the piano down on little hands if a note was missed, showing no expression at all when he played it correctly, always wanting more and still more out of him.  He would drive the boy to practice long hours, and often middle of the night, coming home from the Alehouse would pull his young son from deep sleep out of bed, hit him in the head to awaken him, to play for his intoxicated friends.  I hadn’t heard this story before, but remembered reading about Beethoven years before – I’d hang over side of my bed, book on carpet below, I’d read out of green and white Children’s Encyclopedia.  The story of the wild hair, wild eyed man Beethoven, completely deaf, who could hear music in his mind, all of it.. all parts, how he’d write beautiful and complicated works even though unable to hear a thing.    

Mary played awhile, and I wondered about deafness and beatings.  About drunkenness and lack of sleep and rage and rich complicated powerful music.  And in my wonderings, scribbled out a song back of envelope… a song that starts with Fur Elise and ends with a phrase of Fur Elise. 

Beethoven

Another Mozart

Another beating

Hours at music and the iron fist

Tormented spirit, all walled up in deafness

Bled through the layers and layers of silence

Song found it’s way…

.. into the world

 

Dance in the thunder

And so beautiful

Let the score say what you never could

Flower of yellow

Burst’n up through sidewalk

In a concrete world

You shine anyway….

Another Mozart

Another beating

Hours at music and the iron fist

Tormented spirit, all walled up in deafness

Bled through the layers and layers of silence

Song found it’s way..

… into the world

By Lisa Boyl-Davis August 11, 2018

Beethoven could have loathed music for the way his dad tortured him. The harm done left scars that ran the gamut of his being, and still somehow the harm was unable to rob Ludwig of his run to music, of the creations in his mind – was unable to stifle love for God. 

There is so much more to his story. 

About the way he adored his mother, and lost her too soon.

About the way one sibling, then another and another passed on.

About the way each girl he fell in love with refused to marry him, for although most of his life was spent mingling with the wealthy, he himself was not, and therefore took for music, but not as a husband. 

About the way he suffered mental illness. 

About suicidal wishes. 

About his rage. 

About the mistakes he made. 

About the squalor he lived in. 

I could go on… and really the more I know of his life, the more I am in awe of the human spirit.  The way a dance in the thunder can make Beautiful.  The way flowers burst through concrete and shine anyway.  I think of all the survivors of abuse I have encountered.  Much like Beethoven.  Messy, complicated.  And contributors to some of the richest rarest forms of beauty I have encountered. 

Somehow, song finds its way into the world. 

Bill Died Yesterday

 

Yesterday Bill died.  Bill, our friend.  The Bill with a smirk, always a wonderful smirk on his face.  The mischievous tinkle.  The face I always looked forward to seeing, I’d search for Bill across the crowded Sunday Morning service.  Worried he’d someday be gone.

What will the world be like without Bill?  Our kind-hearted friend.  The guy always with time to listen.  Who loved to see me.  The smile he’d get when he saw our kids.  The stories he and Ted shared, standing out in the church parking lot, unhurried – they would talk.  A car where they were standing needed to back out, they would move to one side, and keep talking.  They’d have to move again.  And still, so much to say.  Never too busy to share another story, he and Ted could talk about anything at all.  Bill holding onto his stick (“It’s not a cane”, he’d say) – his son had carved it for him.  He’d tell about the trips across the states.  All about the adventures.  About the wind at one of the rest stops so strong someone had to help him to the restroom.  Into his 90’s, he was still on the go.  He’d tell about his flying days.  He was a flight instructor during WWII.  Ted and Bill both loved airplanes, they had that in common.  Ted knows which planes he flew.  I can never remember. 

Bill would come along on church campouts.  He’d join the kids for the campout bike parades.  He’d decorate his bike up fancy too.  And always the twinkle, the smirk. 

Bill, such a thoughtful guy.  I remember telling him one Sunday that Marty, our son, who he was fond of, had graduated from H.S.  I invited him to the graduation party.  I really didn’t expect him to make it.  His wife had passed away and doubted he was getting out much.  He came walking up, a bit unsteady on his feet even then, but came to congratulate Marty. 

Losing his wife I think was so hard on him.  He’d tear up anytime he talked about her.   The wife he’d spent a lifetime with, raising so many children that at her funeral I lost track of the count.  Their children, birth children and foster kids.  A lifetime of giving love to each other, and to their many kids and friends.  Grace had a stroke and for years Bill took care of her, bringing her to church in the wheelchair, his patient easy-going ways.  It was definitely true love.

Bill would steal purses.  You’d be chatting with him, and get distracted.  A few minutes later you’d realize your purse was gone.  After scrambling, you’d notice across the room, your purse and a few others hanging from Bills shoulder.  He did this enough times that the church finally presented him with his own purse, which he faithfully wore with his Sunday best. 

This story, it happens everyday.  Good people are born, live, then they die.  He was 96, after all.  And still, I can’t make it OK in my head that it will work for Bill to be missing.  I suppose that would be due to the significant lack of Bill’s in this world.  The eyes that see you from across the room.  The sideways smile.  The twinkle.  The dry jokes.  The smirk. The trust to share a story.  Taking the time to do so.  The interest in others. The caring questions.  The lifetime of giving and loving.  A man whose choices benefited so many. 

I suppose he stole things other than purses.  Like hearts.  It’s a habit.  Whenever I find my seat in church, I hunt for the site of Bill.  Bill died yesterday.  Finally with Grace again.  The twinkle.  The smirk.  Though he’s gone from us, he’s where he’s been headed all along.  A little support through the windy patch, and he’s arrived.  

 

All I Ask

by Gordon Jenkins

Beautiful girls, walk a little slower when you walk by me

Lingering sunsets, stay a little longer with the lonely sea

Children everywhere, when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me

Take me to that strange, enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand

Wandering rainbows, leave a bit of color for my heart to own

Stars in the sky, make my wish come true before the night has flown
And let the music play
as long as there’s a song to sing
And we will stay younger
than Spring

Canadian Geese and Ella Fitzgerald

Under the autumn sky, around the lake another time I walk.  Brisk air tossing my hair about, and I catch sight of them.  Grey and grand, they are silent above me.  Determined necks, strong wings in the bluster, they move onward.  Moving together toward a destination – built in the bones.  Just being geese, they pursue what has been etched into their beings, and they live.

For two weeks now, I’ve been working hard on “Green Dolphin Street”, “Take The A Train” and a couple other songs best sung by Ella Fitzgerald.  Geese in the currents overhead, I think about her.  Baby Ella born to a laundry girl and the shipyard boyfriend – the gene donor didn’t stay long.  She said once in an interview “… I never met him.”.  Moving from Newport News, Virginia to New York, Ella, her Momma and the current boyfriend settled in.  Life seems to have gone well for the family; a sister born, attending both school and church. 

Then things got hard.  An auto accident took the life of Ella’s mother.  Just after she died, her boyfriend treated Ella wrong.  Ella was a young teen.  Time passed.  An auntie finally came for Ella, moved her in with her family, but it was too late, Ella’s life had already begun the backward slide.  Failing grades, she skipped school and roamed about in the shadows of New York, dancing the streets of Harlem for a penny.  Ella was caught for truancy and placed in a reform school.  The reformatory was a horrible place.  The girls there were beat by male guards.   When she couldn’t take it anymore, she found a way to run. For some time she lived homeless on the streets of New York.  No year is better for living on the streets than another, except maybe for the years during The Depression – when she was homeless.  She survived somehow, did all kinds of odd jobs… slept wherever she could. 

One night she decided to participate at an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater.  Ella loved to dance, but when she saw the Edwards Sisters dance their socks off just before she was to go on, she changed her mind and decided to sing.  The crowd wasn’t pleased at the sight of her.  She looked homeless and unkempt, because she was.  But when she started to sing, the audience went silent.  A well known drummer in the audience realized this girl had something, and whisk her away to talk to the powers that be.  The answer was no.  They wanted a man, not a woman.  What they were really saying was that she looked like heck, and would not have her.  Well she was given another chance, she cleaned up, sang, and the rest is history.  Ella provided the world with music from age 17 to age 79.  Sold 40 million albums and won 13 grammy awards. 

Ella, a black homeless girl during the depression, on the streets of New York City, chewed up and spit out by life.  Orphaned, molested, a school dropout, thrown in juvie, a runaway, homeless.  When she was given a chance, it wasn’t for the amazing body beneath tattered misfit hand-me-down’s and dirt.  Wasn’t discovered for a startlingly unusual voice, though lovely.  Wasn’t chosen for her ability to charm musicians into choosing her.  She was too plain, too shy, and socially awkward at times.  Like the Geese that fly, no matter the weather, driven to be, she was herself – herself was just what the world needed. 

Circumstances can’t remove a core blueprint.  I wonder how she kept mind lies from stripping from us six decades of herself?  What prevented her from believing lies in her head that whispered she’s a nobody, that she’s got no business singing for people at an amature hour.  A brave moment.  A strong moment.  A moment of taking to the skies, doing what she was made for, just being.  She let her unique internal grid be her true north. 

At times, over the years, dark thoughts did tormented her.  There were times she felt like nothing, wanting to hide because of her failed marriages, and her body size.  A person who gives the best of themselves is not the person who has no dark thoughts.  It’s is the person who doesn’t let the dark thoughts stop movement forward.  She continued to put herself out there despite the struggles. 

Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote just after Ella’s death “Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians.”  Some things have changed in our world since that day.  Some things have stayed the same.  There are still homeless overlooked, rarely given a chance to be.  Children are still being orphaned, beat, molested.  Some still treat others as beneath themselves.  At the same time, society has attempted to make laws and movies and music, poems and books for teaching us to accept others different from ourselves.  Ella didn’t set out to change the world.  She set out to be, despite what she lacked.  Every time a person does that, the world changes

Ella, lately you come with me when I walk under autumn skies.  I watch the Canadian Geese above me.  Your songs, they soak into my bones.  I think about the beauty of each human being.  

… the baby born to a young mother and boyfriend

…the little one raised by a step-dad

… the child living in poverty

… the orphaned child

… the molested child

… the child running the streets

… the child harmed by the system

..each one with an internal grid

for giving this sorry world something wonderful

– built into the bones, just being.  

 

And I think of Ella.

 

The Abusive Treatment of Body and Narcissism

The way we treat our bodies in this culture is the way a Narcissist treats everyone. Like something to use.  Narcissistic people are motivated by one thing.  Will this benefit me?

Let’s say I’m a Narc and I’m deciding whether I should say hello to you or not.  The thought process is simple. 

Will talking to you benefit me? 

Will talking to you make me look better? 

Will talking to you give me more power, or make me look smarter?

Will taking my time with you give me an edge in any way? 

Of course there are spiritualized versions of this. 

Will talking to you be worthy of my time?  My time really belongs to God, and after all, you didn’t listen the last time I told you what to do.

When relationally oriented (non-narc) types makes a decision, ‘Will this benefit me?’ is one of the considerations, but it is generally only one of many. What primarily motivates a relationally oriented person is, you guessed it – relationship.  Relationship to ourselves, to others and the world around us, which leads us to ask different questions.

Will talking to you make us both grow in our understanding of an idea?

Will talking to you make me late, which might harm another relationship?

Will talking to you honor you, honor myself, and honor God?

Will talking to you give you the feeling of belonging?

Now consider the way we treat our bodies.  Very fickle, and Narc-like, I say.  Body sometimes offers something that benefits me.  There have been times Body has been strong, and brown, cute, and just the right and shape and size for fitting into a nice pair of jeans.   There are times Body has made me look beautiful, brought me a bit of power, and given me advantages.  These are the times I’ve treated Body nice.  I’ve regarded it.  I’ve rested it.  I’ve attended to it’s needs, dress it up, stretched it and ran tracks and stairs and mountain trails with it, all friendly like.

And then something happens.  Body breaks.  It can’t do what it once did.  Just looking at Body makes me sick.  The swollen face, thinning hair, pasty and hunched.  Body that doesn’t benefit me the way I’ve wanted it to.  In fact it’s an embarrassment.  Total rejection and repulsion is what I feel toward a body that once benefitted me. 

Such narcissism.  Such objectification.  What if I treated my body relationally?  What if I sought to let my body know it’s value?  What if I attempted to receive the kindness my not perfect body has attempted to extend to me day after day?  Might I learn to speak blessings to my body?  Wouldn’t Body feel more beautiful if I made an attempt to welcome its presence?  Would the things I think and say to myself allow me to be more comfortable in my own skin? 

Some confuse narcissism as obsession with self rather than what it actually is, an obsession with a fantasy of self.  Because the true self is made up of a real human being.  A human whose body sometimes gives and sometimes needs to be given to.  Using another for my benefit is a terribly ugly thing.  So is using my own body, and distancing myself from it when it can’t be for me what I expect.  Body has value – it’s value stands alone despite not always being what I’ve wanted.  It’s time I treat it that way. 

I Saw Your Son Yesterday

I saw your son yesterday.  Standing on the corner for a brief moment before he jaywalked in front of my car  – blue jeans, t-shirt, flip flops stride wide cross the downtown Seattle thorofare, tall frame and wide shoulders, black hair, the curls all wild. 

Beauty – I caught a glimpse of beauty beneath the emaciated form – the body torn down by a substance that owns him.  Leads him  – ring in nose – under the bridge to where he feels OK.  To an army of ‘ease the pain’ worshipers who sacrifice themselves for a fix. 

I saw your son yesterday, and yelled at God.  “What does it take for you to touch a body and make it whole again?  What if he’s too far gone to reach for You?  Can’t you just take the voices in his head and hush them still so that the fix is not his only relief?”

I saw your son yesterday, as light turned green, I passed him by.  Behind me, he and hundreds of other mother’s sons there to just make it through…

Another crave. 

Another fix. 

Another sleep it off. 

Only to wake up needing more. 

I saw your son yesterday, and asked God to be ‘The More’ for him, and all the mother’s sons with him. 

The Quiet Voice low. 

“…saw her son?  

He’s my Son, too.”

I Collect Good Men – Oops… stories of:)

This past couple years disrespect of women has become more public than in the recent past.

The Stanford Rape Case – girl gets left like garbage out on on the ground and swim jock rapist get community service.

Bill Cosby – 60 women destroyed and he calling it “casual sex”, admits to using sedative hypnotic methaqualone with the women – admits knowing that giving it to another person is illegal, but won’t call it rape.

Mark Driscoll the lead pastor of Mars Hill is off’d his mountaintop for a variety of reasons – I’m sure his graphic sexualized prophecies and hyper-fixation on teaching women in the church to provide certain kinds of sex to headship husband lest they neglect their Christian wifely duty have added to the list of reasons why.

Seventh day Adventist Church:  Women’s Ordination.

Donald Trump.  Lets see, strip clubs, objectifying his own daughter.  Filth spoken to his buddies long ago, (‘We all do it’, quip the supporters.  No, many of us have never had thoughts like the words that came out of his mouth, or ever heard such words.  And needed a shower after hearing such words.  No, we don’t all act like that and talk like that.). Reports that he raped a 13 year old girl (read the reports. Yes she dropped charges after her life was threatened.  This was a group effort, the other man accused, Jeffrey Epstein, Trumps buddy, is a registered sex offender and payed the girl off for his part.) 

This is the year it became impossible to talk about the happenings in the news round the dinner table. The year we couldn’t have our kids involved in the election process as it became X-rated and revolting.  The year an old family entertainer we all love and who made us laugh was found to be too violent and grotesque in his secret life to be funny at all anymore. 

Today I ran across a short little video about a single Dad who started classes in his community to teach other Dad’s how to do their daughter’s hair.  This Dad says knowing how to care for his daughter’s hair became one of the challenges for him and as he figured out what to do, he decided to share what he learned with other Dads.  Thirty-four classes later and 800 plus guys through the program, he reminds the guys it’s not a gender thing  “Even a messy braid is still time spent together. It’s not about the braid, it’s about the bond”.

I ran across a story about a woman who went to her husband’s work because he had been working late.  She found him sound asleep in his chair, feet up on desk, holding a little two year old on his chest.  This man works for Child and Family Services, the baby had been taken, and was between placements.  A big kind-hearted guy sound asleep on duty, helping the little one during this terribly painful time of transition. 

There are the abusers.  The selfish.  The toxic and manipulative.  Liars and users.  There are monsters.  The types who say words with a smile, but words that cut holes in the souls of those around them.  There are people all about power over.  There are small types who have to talk filth to feel big.  Small ones who drive giant trucks, suck up gas and burn tires to prove how important they are.  The people who do not care the scars they carve into those who trust them.

And then there are the others.  Not perfect, and still day after day he goes to work, brings home all that he has been earned, rarely uses money just for himself.  The guy who grocery shops.  He cooks.  The one who still tell bedtime stories, he doesn’t do it all just right, but cares deeply for the people in  his life.  The guy who doesn’t spend his life angry because he is hamstrung by the old lady and a couple-a snot nosed dependents.  No, a guy who loves and adores his wife, still finds her hot despite the way they’ve both aged… the marks grooved deep into her being, stretched lines telling a story about their love and their love babies.  A guy who doesn’t want the plastic of porn.  It’s his wife he desires.  Not just her body, but her friendship.  

This year I hope to collect stories of respect given by men to women and women to men.  Men and women to children.  Not tales about why it’s so important for women to respect men and why women don’t need respect but love.  The church has contributed to the abuse by ideas that we have propagated.  The Bible is crammed packed with why respect and love are important for all.  Male headship, leading and following.  Balderdash.  He who is greatest must be servant of all.  Jesus, God himself, says he calls us FRIENDS.  Men and women are all in this together, we either all contribute to love or to destruction.  We all need each other.  I am collecting stories of mutual care and love given between equals.  Help me collect the stories. I look forward to each one. 

P.S.  Happy Birthday Adored Husband.  Thank you for the little ways you remind me every day that not all guys are like the horrific males who make the news.  The kids and I are blessed.   

Ugly Duckling and God

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To mock me is to mock God, for I am God Art.
To mock you is to shun what God has thought up, and formed, breathed into and had high hopes for.
To mock is to set myself as an equal with God.
I will not do that arrogant thing.
I will notice the beauty in me.
The loveliness and intrigue in you.
And when I do, I glance at God.
God Art.
God Offspring.
It is God who causes us to belong to each other.

Real Prayer

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This prayer to God was written by a beautiful survivor of the most hideous of abuse.  It’s a real prayer to God.  I’m posting this with her permission as I think we all need to challenge preconceived ideas about what a proper prayer looks like, and assumptions about people unable to imagine a loving God.  The God I worship wept.  He welcomes honesty. Even of the rawest form.  Thank you Trinity for allowing me to share your letter.

 

I so long for a Father figure,

someone to gently love me without abuse,

without conditions, without fear of judgment.

You, God are suppose to be my ultimate Father,

on one side, I still so desperately long for your affections, your love,

and at times I see glimpses of that in the children you’ve place in my life,

through other people,

through the promises in your Word.

But lately there is this other side,

this darkness within me that rages at you

and doesn’t understand how you have a plan for my life,

or that you care about the broken hearted.

A part of me that see you no differently than I view my abuser,

as a monster,

because only a monster would allow children to be abused,

would allow my own parents to crave drugs so bad that selling me,

their youngest child,

was like selling a used shirt at a yard sale,

something you don’t think twice about.

And then you create me to need love and attention,

the very things that got me hurt in the first place!

Why would I come running to you?!!

You didn’t protect me,

you sure as hell didn’t stop the bastards that used me like trash for years.

If you want me to truly trust you God,

you’ve got to break the wall down,

because it’s high and thick and not coming down without some serious work on your part.

I’m tired of praying to what seems like thin air,

only to battle the demons within me so much more.

You say you’re a healer and you heal the broken hearted.

Where’s the healing???

When does it come?

When do I get release from the monsters of mental illness?

The hell and torture of PTSD?

The little Trinity needs her Abba Father,

but the adult me wants to never let you close to her.

I need some answers, God

if we are going to work together to heal little Trinity.

Written by Trinity