seven hours

back home, this would be an adventure

I would know what to do

something great would happen

and we would eat chapati on the side of the road.

Would. But we are here,

I am windswept, arms folded, staring into a stream off the shoulder

of 215.7 southbound at 7:00pm (it’s getting dark, we have 4 hours to go)

and the engine is spluttering. Maybe it will explode.

Every pothole will be a curse, every damn trucker

will be stress.

Will.

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postfinale

what am i without all this water weight?

it’s been slowing me down, keeping me under

and for the first time in months I can consider

what I really want, the fresh greenery

of optimism and ideas springs up in my brain and spine

I am a little bit freer than I was yesterday and I will drink

all of this rainwater happily

biology

repressed anxiety

takes the most unusual forms during stress.

I spent all of class wincing, jumping

every time the professor wrote on the board

the squeaking chalk said

that she was going to fingernail it

she was going to

every time, I was sure

she was going to scratch it

i want to go home

[pressure]

i am tiny pieces taped together

so tight, too tight, stress-hugging my knees

and i feel no older than eight,

the same innocent naivety at my centre

the tension pushes me in and pulls me out

so i am all edges and no rest

[collapse]

Lexapro and me.

Someone once told me that I was incredibly selfish for not taking God’s creation as enough for me to be happy. That, to be a good person, I had to be joyful all the time every day and the fact that I wasn’t just proved how ignorant and lost I was.

Another person told me that I “didn’t need” medication, that the drugs were a waste of time and bad for me. They assumed I could make it since they had gotten through life just fine without – they’d even been to counseling!

I’ve heard all these and more. That my life isn’t hard enough to merit medication – what have I gone through, really? Blank stares, awkward silences, whatever stereotype they’ve heard or the name of someone they know on meds for depression/anxiety – something SERIOUS, unlike my situation.

The truth is, I am incredibly weak. I can’t handle a single day without feeling like my heart is being crushed by my ribs, I can’t force myself to smile, and I am convinced that I am the single most pathetic and useless person on this planet – that the world would be better off without me. There are times when, out of the blue, fear washes over me to the point where I am physically paralyzed. It is beyond my control, and that makes it all the more terrifying.

I know, your life is not like this. You are stronger than I.

I would do anything to stop these feelings – everything that convinces me that I am worthless, and will never be able to overcome it. It’s like drowning in shadows and darkness, suffocating sorrow not directed from any specific source but overwhelming nonetheless. So yes, I am ashamed of Lexapro and my dependence on it. I wish I didn’t have to take it. I feel unbelievably pathetic for doing so, but not as pathetic as I feel without it.

There are some people who are like glowing pure light in my little dark world and being with them chases every evil away – I will do anything to be as close as I can to them to keep the dark running so I can finally sleep….

All I ask is you not run away from my struggles and stand by my side so that I may have the strength to fight on.

Luke Harms’ “On Shame.”

from Luke Harms’ blog, Living in the Tension

On Shame.

There is a conversation happening. It’s an important one, birthed out of frustration over the modesty wars, purity culture, and a whole host of issues that are, I think, concrete manifestations of our misunderstanding of notions like love and grace. Also, I think it’s part of a broader conversation about shame and guilt versus hope and redemption, about oppression versus freedom.

There’s just one simple idea I want to add to the conversation. I want to shout this from the aisle of every church, put it in all caps on every internet message board and start a kickstarter campaign to buy some Super Bowl add time.

“There is no place for shame in the Kingdom of God.”

This Kingdom is built on a foundation of implacable love, every stone a story of redemption, of hope, of restoration. Our Cornerstone is Immanuel, God with us, and scandalous grace is the mortar that binds us all together in our shared heritage of son-and-daughter-ship.

Shame though, at its base, is about fear – fear of condemnation, of rejection, of not measuring up – but perfect Love – radical, self-sacrificing, other-embracing, redemptive Love – casts out all fear. Shaming then is nothing short of denying the primacy of this Love, and the power of grace. It says that God’s goodness, love, grace and kindness are not enough to draw us to repentance. It says that control, not love, is the nature of our relationship with God.

While Shame says “You can go no further because of what you’ve done,”
Grace says “I have already come all the way to you and further because of who you are to me.”

While Shame forces you into the darkness, to hide your face from the pain of condemnation,
Love lifts up your face and shines the light of redemption upon it.

Shame destroys. Grace restores. Love renews.

When Love breaks in, the shame that shackles us to the worst versions of ourselves is cast aside, and we are set free. Bonds are broken. In the solidarity of a family of sinners saved by grace, we find the hope that shame stole from us and the redemption that it denied us.

This truth seems to me to be no small thing, no simple platitude that utter lightly. It is not just a trifle to be put on a bracelet or a slogan to be splashed across a church bulletin. It’s a very real acknowledgement of the power of Love to break every chain, to heal every broken heart, to bind up every wound, to give rest to the weary, to save the world from itself.

When we preach shame, condemnation, guilt and oppression, our words ring cold and hollow, empty of the life-giving, words of that Truth. When we shame and condemn, we deny the power of the Gospel.  We can never shame someone into the Kingdom of God, nor scare them into loving community, but Grace makes all things new, and Love makes whole that which was broken.

In the end, Shame says “We can’t even start until you fix these things…”

Love says, “It is already finished.”

spread eagled

a people addict choosing to be alone,

to work, pressing forward

schedules conflicting, rarely speaking.

hearing whispers of the most wonderful time spent with friends.

faith, don’t fail me now.

the excitement of knowing that you are out there

that you finally want to speak and listen

delights me silently

knowing that there is hope –

I have a chance. I really do.