My husband’s grandmother turned 92 last week, and while we sat next to each other on the couch, she rubbed the kicking baby beneath my skin. I wanted her to feel that squirming little life, because she can’t hear or see well. After our unborn daughter rolled inside me, Louise told me she’d live to see her next great-grandchild. Because I’ve cauterized a lot of the outlets of my emotion in the last two years, I made a joke.
“You said that last time, Louise. I think I’m done having kids. You’re going to have to find something else, because we want you around.”
I’m not hopeful like I used to be. It’s embarrassing, but it takes so much faith to believe something you want, something you work and wait and pray for, will actually happen. Hope gets whitewashed as flippant wishing, but committing to waiting for the possibility of disappointment is excruciating and exhausting. Continue reading “The Expense of Hope”→
One of the most memorable stories in the Bible for me comes from 2 Samuel 12, when Nathan, a prophet, goes to David to tell him an important story about an unjust man.
David, appalled by this man’s wickedness, swears he will punish him. That’s when Nathan finally clues him in:
“You are the man!”
The story about the evil man is about him, and what David perceived as a report of an impersonal crime committed somewhere in his kingdom reflected reality in his home, and sins in his heart.
We can read all day about racism and white supremacy and think it distant, but if we never ask how it would be possible that God might also send us prophets to reveal that we, too, are guilty, then we miss something. We are destroying ourselves.
Having grown up in the church, I knew the rules about dating long before giving out my first phone number. First, and most important, I had to find a Christian to date. When I found one in youth group or young adult Bible study, we would both abstain from premarital sex while we built the foundation of a healthy relationship that would carry us through marriage. At worst, it would end in an amicable breakup because God was leading us elsewhere. It seemed so straightforward.
Looking back, I find that idea laughable not because I don’t think that’s a good plan, but because that wasn’t my experience. Dating was complicated, especially when the Christian label was just that: a tag for people, including me, to wear to look like we were doing the right thing. For me, it got even more confusing when I found dating non-Christians easier and safer. Yet by the time I decided I had to get serious about finding a Christian spouse, I was sure most Christian guys I pursued would find me too bitter and heavy with emotional damage to risk a date.
As mentioned previously, I always knew I was supposed to date Christians, and committed ones, too — no rookies. I thought being “equally yoked” meant finding a cradle Christian who knew Bible stories and went to church camp (2 Corinthians 6:14). Non-believers, naturally, were out of the question. Despite believing this, I mistrusted it before I was allowed to date. At 15, I discovered the hard way that too many Christians aren’t all that different from non-Christians, and it disappointed and frustrated me to know that I wasn’t safe around someone just because he said he was a believer and played in a worship band. If a Christian would take what he wanted from me without my permission, why would I differentiate him from the vast group of potential mates out there?
Forgotten tomatoes and carrots were gathered at the corners of the raised beds. I thought of taking some while my daughter played in the pond of a community garden in progress.
We came to exchange some books in the Little Free Library at the entrance. For an old cookbook and a self-help book that never helped, we got Wuthering Heights and “Curious George and the Pizza.” She didn’t want to sit on the bench and read with me. Shoveling dirt into the pond was more appealing. Someone had left a spade and a full bucket there, almost as if they knew she’d be coming.
I hadn’t read too many news stories yet, but I knew the neighborhood lore. A 10-year-old girl, maybe even on the ground over which I’d walked, had been raped and murdered two and half years before my daughter’s and my late morning visit.
I wrote an essay for Christ and Pop Culture about how a lifelong struggle with body image and worth would never get better unless I could begin to grasp that I’m not my own.
This is out there because I thought someone might need it, and because no matter what I do, some part of this story will make it into most of my personal writings, whether or not it’s explicit.
Here is an excerpt:
“An abandoned aluminum foil container next to my sandbox provided me with my first razor when I was 4 years old. The box had been left outside after a cookout. At first, I was intrigued by its teeth. Then, after I pricked my finger, I couldn’t believe it. I was bleeding, and it didn’t hurt badly. Running my fingers across the sharp row again, I discovered I could cause and contain my own hurt. I didn’t need to cry, and no one saw me.
That incident taught me a lie that has haunted me ever since: My sadness is singular, and my body worthless.”
Neither of my parents ever approved of horror films, but we could watch movies that were funny and a bit campy yet never demonic or gory. That is how I saw quirky classics like Beetlejuice, The Goonies, Gremlins, Scrooged, and one of my favorites, The Burbs.
For those who haven’t watched it, The Burbs features Tom Hanks as an average American suburbanite named Ray Petersen who finds himself entangled with his neighbors’ plot to out the new family in the cul-de-sac, the ambiguously foreign Klopeks.
When I found out my husband had never seen it, we watched the film with friends. We laughed, but at the end, my friend Logan remarked that it could have made a statement about the dark nature of humankind, but instead reinforced stereotypes. Continue reading “Safety is my middle name”→