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.

Praying.

I’m not too sure what’s happened, but ever since January I’ve been praying like never before. I never hated praying or anything, but like most things I made the act of getting on my knees to be a procession, until I had no desire to do it. There were times when I didn’t know what to say; other times when I was so upset I couldn’t speak. I invested in a diary—which I keep locked and hidden—for my prayers when I’m too distraught to say anything. I’m someone who closes up when I’m upset and sadly God is the easiest person to do that with: you can’t see Him! He doesn’t have a phone to pester you with.

But I didn’t want to stay distant from Him. Some of the things written in the diary would surprise some people, but there are some things that only God needs to or should know about. There are things about me that I don’t like saying out loud, even in the confines of my own room; even when no one’s at home. The diary allowed me to express these things.

The diary helped in other ways too, I guess. It started me on my way for a healthy prayer life. I used to go to Wednesday prayer meeting just because it seemed like the right thing to do, but now I truly enjoy it; when I don’t go I’m bored, my Wednesday night somewhat of a damp squib. I like praying in the mornings, the evenings, and throughout the day. Ever since I started driving I pray in my head as I go. I think praying in this way has helped me stay calm when people blast their horns at me and spook me out.

I pray for my family and for their success in life. I pray for my own. University has been tough; it’s been a dramatic change from doing a course such as Creative Writing to the much tasking Sociology, which requires academic reading and assignments. I didn’t like university when I first started and even now I worry if I’ll do well in my first year exams. But when I pray for my success, God reminds me of all the times He’s helped me to pass. I’ve never failed an academic exam, why would God let me down now?

My friend set up a prayer group on Facebook where we can post prayer requests and testimonies. The whole idea of the group and the way how it’s taken off has really been a blessing. It’s been encouraging and it feels nice when I put requests on there to know I’ve got people praying for me, people who don’t even know me but are willing to pray anyway.

There’s been a case in the news this week about a couple who tortured and killed a 15-year-old because they believed he was a witch. Since then, certain pratices of corrupt churches in London have come into the limelight. I’ve seen these churches and I know about them; they spring up from no where, on the top floors of abandoned shops, with long entrances that look like the openings of caves. Their signs are dubious, with advertisements of prophets and prophetesses, who will heal your sicknesses. These people inject paranoia into vulnerable adults and brainwash them into believing their children are possessed. Some of these children are seriously ill and their parents ignorant of vital signs, so they go to these pastors who pray and chant over them, forever traumatising the children and leading them into distress. Some of these children are killed. The pastors are rolling in the tithe and offering money given to them by their congregation. Prayer can be abused.

But in its purity, it’s an amazing thing. There’s no other force like it. Read through the Bible and you’ll see countless miracles performed through prayer, the prayer of someone who truly believes and loves their Creator.

I could take or leave prayer before. Now I can’t live without it.

Happy Sabbath.

xXx

I Hate Church.

Something that is said too freely. I speak more about my own utterances than anyone else’s.

At one stage, I did hate church. I had only been a Seventh-Day Adventist for a couple years at this point and I had never experienced a colder place than an Adventist church. From being an Anglican, where all my neighbours attended and chatted about gardens and local business around the tea and biscuit table; to being a Pentecostal where everyone was too passionate to be cold, coming into the church that was supposed to ‘have the light’ really shocked me. I was outwardly different and aware that people thought I was odd. It was only years later, when I had made some of the best friends I’ve ever had, that I was informed that people just didn’t know how to take my eccentricity. They were nervous to approach me.

Since that time, God has worked wonders in my life. I’ve recently passed my practical driving test and I found out today that I passed my French Oral exam (I got a 2:2. Not a fantastic grade, but I’d been anticipating a fail so I’ll take what I’ve been given). But also, I’ve grown as a person. My life is genuinely better. My dad’s life is better. Most people, when they find out how he was before, just can’t believe it. He was never a bad dad, but looking back on our old lives, before both of us became Christians, it’s like meeting two different people.

With that in mind, sometimes I have to ask whether I’m a good witness for God. Sure, I tell  people about God, but what does my life say about it?

Today someone tried to persuade me to leave church, after I’d complained to them about something. This person is very anti-God and I’m not entirely sure if they respect my beliefs (I’m just judging by the mocking company they keep). Now, I’m not someone who believes in painting a Utopian picture of church to luuure in the un-believers. That’s just dishonest and unnecessary. However, if God has truly worked wonders for me, should I complain as much as I do? I believe in only complaining if you plan to do something about it—otherwise, keep shtum! So even though I’m in no way tempted by the offer to leave the church, I can’t really be surprised if people think I am. If I’m going to complain so much, what do I expect?

And what’s hilarious is that I don’t complain as much as I used to. I can only imagine how many atheists/agnostics I bored in the past with my ramblings.

I love God. I hate religion without God, because I agree that it has caused a lot of grief for people and has been used as a tool to control, subjugate and frighten. But these things will happen because we live in a sinful world, with humans whose natural choice is to sin anyway. With that in mind, I can’t entertain anti-God thoughts from others or encourage negative images of Him.

I shouldn’t emanate them, either.

So this week, I’m praying for more positivity. I can’t be a good witness if I’m complaining all the time. God’s done too much for me to behave like that…

Happy Sabbath.

xXx

A Testimony!

Happy Sabbath.

I love when a Sabbath starts on a high. I still haven’t experienced The testimony, my Damascus Road Testimony, but until then I appreciate the little ones—because in reality, they’re not that little at all.

Quick recap: I was doing Creative Writing at Derby University. I dropped out after first year to pursue a career as a Mental Health nurse but I failed the exam and ended up settling for Sociology at the University of Greenwich. Greenwich requires students to pick up extra courses to make up the points for the year so I chose Forensic Criminology and French—I love the former and hate the latter. I was really down at the start of the year because I thought I had ruined my life and I just wasn’t enjoying university.

The first part of my testimony comes in the form of a final career choice. Even though my dream is to be a published novelist, I still need a day job. One of the reasons I left the Creative Writing course at Derby was because  I couldn’t think of a job that I could do with a Creative Writing degree and my motivation for it started to wane.

Talking to my mum this week it finally dawned on me the job I could do. I would like to work in a Trade Union. I reckon it’s quite competitive these days, but they’re still hiring by the bucketload, plus I have the advantage of knowing how to get into the field as my mum works in the legal department for one of the major unions in the UK (don’t worry, no nepotism here; she can’t get me the job). I started following the work of the trade unions earlier this year when the Tories got in and was both fascinated and horrified by the stories my mum came home with, of the unfairness some people have to face. Finding a career that would be good for me has really got my confidence going and now I’ve started to work harder, because I know where my degree will lead to. I’m still going to pray about it anyway, as I’ve had to twist and change my desire to be a Mental Health nurse quite a lot since I started this degree.

The second part of my testimony is in regards to my French course. No, I don’t like it nor do I understand it and I find the classes boring. I’ve been struggling to retain information it’s made me fall behind in classes more than once. Last week, however, I fell behind in a bad way. I was supposed to hand in a portfolio of work that I didn’t know until it was too late was actually part of a formal assessment. I didn’t understand it so I didn’t do it and decided to give myself an extension for extenuating circumstances (LOL). But then the following week went by and I still hadn’t done it. By this time I was aware just how important the portfolio was and I was bricking myself over how much trouble I would get into. Friday morning came (today) and I very nearly almost stayed at home. So I prayed. I prayed some crazy desperate prayer, pleading with God to soften my French teacher’s heart so she would understand.

I went to class early and told her that I had had trouble with the work and hadn’t done it yet.

“Erm,” she said, “did we agree for you to have an extension?”

“Uhhhhhhh. I—oh yeah! I don’t think we did, did we?”

“You do know I can penalise you for not handing it in on time?”

I then went on a little ramble, saying I hadn’t known who to go to if I’d needed the help; I also hadn’t been able to get to a reliable printer in time; it was really hard work—

“Well it’ll be kind of pointless you coming in class today,” she said. “We’re going to be going through the portfolio together.”

There was a long pause.

“I’ll tell you what,” she said, “Go to the library for an hour and complete the portfolio now. Come back at twelve for the second part of the lecture and I’ll take your work in anyway. I won’t penalise you.”

HUUH? Can I get an ‘Amen’???

I almost cried on my way to the library! It took longer than I thought, though (I told you it was hard); I ended up taking two hours and arriving in the classroom when the lecture was over.

“This wasn’t our agreement, was it?” She said, tapping her foot on the ground.

“I’msosorrysorrytooklongsorrypaperjamsorrywrongfrenchtapesorrysorry.”

And she still accepted it! My prayer was answered. I should have a big red mark next to my name in the coursebook for handing in the work a week late, but thank God it’s all worked out.

But now I must never screw up in the lesson again. She’s gonna be watching me now, I’m sure of it…

xXx

Beauty Therapy

Sit on the chair and face me.
See how the mirror is framed by bulbs
that half obliterate the reflection
of a gaunt and pale individual.
Can you see the heavy clothes,
bending you forwards
until your chin glances against you knees
and your arms are lost in tendrils
of felt and tweed and stained
sackcloth. It frays around the edges.

Please, allow me.
There’s no need to flinch when I
pull the rags away, cut open
the clotted carcass that hangs across your back;
wrench wooden shoes off bleeding feet
unscrew rusted rings from bent fingers.
I wont leave until you’re bare
and even then,

allow me.
There is cloth to be used.
Let’s wipe away the dirt
and the black foundation that you wore
to hide away the things that caused you great shame.
And we’ll wash your hair together
to clear away all the mud
scrape the sludge from your nails.

In the meantime I’ll massage into your skin
my Grace and Mercy;
my Love, Peace and Happiness.
Anoint your head with oil
and tease Pleasantness to your scalp.
I’ll redress you in a slip
of Confidence and Humility so that
your skin will glow and gleam
and complement the brightness of your eyes.

No need for adornment.
Let the beauty come from within
and manifest in your mannerisms,
words, thoughts and conscience.

Time to turn down the bulbs
so you can see yourself clearly.

Time to set you on your way–
but don’t forget my card.
Testify your transformation
and tell others about
Me.