Unspoken

I said “help”

with closed lips.

Did you see my need
in the ways my clothes hung off my body
the way how I stood
like an old coat rack
that spends its years wasting
in a charity shop?

Was there a sign
in the late texts
that rattled your pillow as you slept
and the morning calls–supposedly innocent
only two hours after?

Was my desperation evident
in the absent prayers of general weather;
my eyes which could stare for hours at night time
the journeys I took inside my self in silence,
where my daydreams made more sense than reality
how I found it easier to speak to walls in my head
and rolled in uncomfortable fits of fidgeting and breathing
whenever I spoke to you?

You asked me: is everything okay?

I said
“no”

But my mouth didn’t open.

 

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Understanding God

It dawned on me the other day that I don’t actually know what love is. What does it mean to ‘love’ someone, what do you do when you ‘love’ someone? How would they know that you love them?

A baby latches onto the first source of food and comfort they find. They understand that the fragrant, warm, secure blobby thing above them from which milk is secreted can bring them happiness. A little child knows that this blobby thing is their mother, eventually their father too, and they build a relationship with their parents. They don’t fully realise that the reason why they burst into tears at the school gates, watching the red lights of the family car vanishing far into the distance, is because they love their parents and don’t want to see them go.

Love gets more complicated when you’re older. Suddenly, it’s not just your parents that you love, but your friends. Sometimes teachers, eventually you’ll grow in love with someone who isn’t related to you. All different feelings, manifestations, decisions and contexts, with one word to describe them all.

Love.

A word used too freely. I have members of my extended family that I am not close to; some I’ve only met a couple times. Sometimes I don’t get on well with them at all. But then, I’m expected to say that I ‘love’ them, immediately, on the first meeting. People generally say that they ‘love’ their siblings, but they don’t ‘like’ them. What does this mean? It’s a cliche that people use on the assumption that everyone knows what they’re talking about. Another one is ‘loving someone is not the same as being in love with someone’. Words and adages and riddles; they mean nothing to me.

I spoke to my dad about it yesterday. My dad and I talk a lot about these things. I’ve told him when I’ve fancied someone, or had relationship drama, and vented to him about the odd ways of men and women in the church. I asked him how he knew he had been in love with my mum. He was honest: “it’s indescribable”, he said “but there’s a difference when you love someone as a Christian. It’s no longer ‘I fancy him, I fancy her’; emotions can’t be the main part of it. You learn to love Christ first; you experience His love for you; then you learn to love other people”.

I think it’s the best explanation I’ve heard about ‘love’. It cannot be explained in a few words or actions. It’s a verb and a noun and an adjective; it’s a decision you make–you decide to love someone and stay with them and accept them for their faults and their good sides–and yet it’s a word that rouses emotion: anger, joy, arousal, desire. It can trigger hate; people kill others over their love for someone else; people kill themselves because they love someone else…

Christ killed Himself, didn’t he? He sacrificed himself, lived a life of persecution and completed his task on the cross out of love for people who to this day give him nothing in return. That’s why love is so hard to understand; because to love someone means to make sacrifices.  It means you put yourself on the line: you give up your time, defer your personal happiness to make someone else happy and safe. You compromise and give without expecting anything else in return.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:8

I’ve been praying for God to teach me how to love truly and earnestly; to be willing to make sacrifices and care for people as I should, not just as a Christian, but as someone who has morals. I know from the text above that love comes from God first, and more importantly that ‘love’ is something I’ll never fully understand…

…because to understand ‘love’ is to understand ‘God’.

Draughts

Black and Red were my favourite colours.

There’s something about red;
the colour of anger
passion
strawberries, cherries, lovehearts and lipstick.
To me it signified blood.
The way it oozed down my brown arms
so slowly,
like a scarlet clad army
marching across muddy terrain.
It felt good to do this to myself
because I was lost
and locked up in my own madness
I was calm and collected
on the exterior
but in side lay the Jack
waiting, just waiting to jump out of the box.
Few people knew of my secret
of times in the bathroom stalls at school
with a blade in one hand
and my soul in the other
whilst girls outside chatted about
random things and everything
and I, only separated by a wall as thin
as a cubicle,
stood in a whirlwind of distress.

 

I loved Black because it healed and concealed.
The battle scars along my arms and legs
caused stares and questions
so instead I doused myself in black
I was a dirty scrap of paper
washed in fresh ink to beautify.
I was hidden.

I wanted my room to be black so that I could
cocoon myself in pity
I wanted my bed to be black
so I could crawl into a ball
and return to the womb
because slumber was the only time I was happy
when the night fell and the blue sky
was turned black
I thought of death
hanging bodies
mutilated corpses on my floor.
I was terrified. This colour that gave way to such images
was the colour I wanted to be
and to immerse myself in.

These spirits of death and decay followed me
until I was left entirely alone
with no friends
and no one to call.
It was just me and God.
And in that loneliness I could hear Him
calling to me.
When hurricanes sweep your life
and your possessions are flying about your head
when screams are ringing in your ears
and your house, the very foundations of your being
are cracking and crashing to pieces
you cannot hear the person calling your name
to bring you to safety.
It’s only in the eye, the silent circle of calm
that things finally make sense.
So as I stood in the eye of the storm of my life
I heard God. And His voice was sweet
like a hummingbird
whistling to the forest.
I began to return to Him.

With this newfound friendship
I became best friends with two colours:
Black and Red.

 

Black is onyx.
Black is the darkness that enshrouded
the Son as He waited
behind the stone of His resurrection
the onyx that waited in this garden
with two guards beside
and turned into a pearl
when He was risen.
Onyx stands for my resurrection
from a sinner
drenched in death
to one saved by grace
and saturated with the whiteness of
His righteousness.

Red is blood.
Red is the blood that dripped
from His brow
as He hung on the tree of death for me

when it fell to the ground
in a shower of rubies
and hit the soil
that was unworthy to absorb it.
Red is the love that He had for me
whilst I mutilated the body He gave me
and carved graffiti on
His temple walls.

Red is His compassion
that whilst I cloaked myself
in darkness
and observed my blood
trailing down my arm,
He observed and He cried
and He bled, to remind me that
mine should never be shed.
Red is the fruit of the spirit
that He wanted me to bear
and the spiritual gifts
that He gave to me
to write about the things that have come to pass

Red is His Passion.
Red is my Passion.
And with this passion
I will praise Him.

Chain Link Fence

My week has been uneventful but revelatory. I opened up to the Rolling Prayer Request list that my friend set up on Facebook. I started to write my prayer request and deleted it several times. It dealt with an issue that I wasn’t keen on letting people know about—after all, I don’t know the majority of people in the group. I was aware that I would be recognisable as the girl with “that problem” if I ever went to a national church event. I’ve already made friends with people in the real world because they recognised me from the list. I didn’t want to be branded with anything.

I’ve really built this up haven’t I? Anyway, this is what I wrote:

 

Please pray for me. I suffer from low confidence and low self-esteem. It shows to other people and gets me in compromising situations, I guess. And I’m too sensitive. My sensitive nature has had me holding a grudge for years whilst the people involved just carried on with their merry lives. Basically, just pray for me to be more Esther-like or something. I feel as though my current personality, one of “fear” and “worry” completely contradicts the Bible’s standard of having faith and being bold. After all, if I have a strong relationship with God I shouldn’t be so emotionally weak. Thanks xXx

I got a lot of responses that really touched me. The same people I was weary of before took the time to message me privately with words of encouragement. It really gave me a boost. I then saw that there were people who were also going through the same state of mind but had been worried to ask for prayer about it before. I hope that this helped them in some way.

I would like to end on a thought about how we build and break each other in church. In a place where everyone wants to be seen to be doing something for the work of the Kingdom, I reckon it can be easy to heap too much praise on an individual when we like them or magnify their open sins when they look like a spiritual threat. This boils down to our natural sinful nature and is something we will only overcome by completely surrendering to Christ.

But it really hurts me when people say ridiculous and demeaning things just to ensure their own delusions of piety and status. I’ve just read a quote from an unknown person (and to be honest I don’t want to know them) fundamentally saying that the church needs men to stop the drama that women generate and this is why women don’t make good leaders.

As a young woman in church, when I hear things like that, how can I possibly have high self-esteem? If I’m being judged and broken down in such a way by the brothers in my own church, I don’t think it’s surprising if my morale is a little low. I feel more anger at such statements initially, along with the drive to prove the speaker wrong—at the same time, I feel terrified. I’m supposed to pick a husband out of this bunch.

I’ll be away for a week on Monday, so this is my last post until the 24th. I’m going to a church camp meeting in Wales. Hopefully I’ll have lots to talk about when I get back.

xXx

 

So Much Happens in Seven Days…

Happy Sabbath.

I spoke about the problems that arose for me at the start of last week in an earlier post. It seems so strange that less than seven days ago I was writing about the importance of mental rest and then, the very next day, I was faced with something that had me ticking over almost constantly. So at the moment I’m estranged from a family member due to religious differences–as in, one of us follows the Bible and the other follows nothing. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. I just didn’t expect such a drastic outcome.

On the other side of the coin are my achievements for the week. Last Friday evening I was worried about my university problems and now, thankfully, I’m all caught up. I handed in my French portfolio today–all completed–and I caught up on my missed readings for Sociology. I’m ready for the assignments I’ve got next month; bought my textbooks and have focused more in my classes. The Devil was on my case on Sunday, but God’s answered some prayers anyway.

I had a nice day with a great friend, Dami. One of the few people in this world that I can trust. She’s strong, intelligent and creative–a great poet. Her testimony is amazing, as well. It was nice to have lunch with her, chat and stuff and then go to praise team practice, which I’ve just come back from. The Youth Praise Team is singing tomorrow. We haven’t sung for a while, so it’ll be nice to introduce some songs to the church that we’ve been practising during the interim.

Mmm. Next post will be a poem I think…

Have a good Sabbath.

xXx