Disconnected Ramblings on Love’s Presence, Absence, & False Form

It seems that all my friends are in seasons, where love is raining down in giant drops of warmth and relief and joy. It is a time to dance in the rain; I feel like I am drowning in it. Most days, it is enough to keep me afloat, but lately watching love in its mysterious abundance has become painful. I could condemn myself for the exaltation of romantic love, but it would be a legalistic attempt to repress what feels entirely human and appropriate.


Flowers and weeds were planted in the desert, just in time for the skies to open and release what they were holding back. Time and weather allowed for waters to recede and flora to blossom. Flowers and weeds looked all the same and took over the terrain. How does the desert know a flower from a weed? It has seen nothing of either, it just knew it was covered. To be covered with life is wondrous, to be tended divine. You were once a desert. Nothing could have ever grown there. You never expected bloom. You never expected life. You never expected for weeds to take over and destroy you. If you don’t tend to a garden in the desert properly it is only a matter of time before weeds will bring it to ruin.

Faithful Desert Fathers and Sisters witnessed the wild takeover from afar. If the desert was to be saved every weed and flower needed to be uprooted. They were. Every pull took a bit of sand and water with it. It left the desert exposed, fragmented, and dry; it was a lesser desert. The weeds were taken and burned before her eyes, along with the flowers. It is better to be a desert than filled with weeds robbing you of life.

But the flowers left seeds, that the desert knew it could never bloom again. So when it rained in the desert the terrain wept as she remembered.


Anyone who would encourage me to be content in the love I have now is a fool. I don’t think of them actually as a fool, but how? In counseling, Dalia tells me, I feel things deeper and process quicker. I know my sorrow is a lack of specific love.

My closest friends are busy with their families. My most recent of question is “Where I fit into all of it?” I think in terrible analogies. It includes this one that has been running through my mind.

Our individual worlds are entire solar systems, with moons that revolve around planets and planets revolving around the sun. My friends feel like planets or moons, receiving priority in my solar system. Sometimes, I have to settle for being a meteor, brightly quickly passing by causing temporary interest to return to normal orbit once more. Love – if it has degrees of goodness – generates a new planet to add to the solar system. It may begin as Neptune, colder than ice, but in time it will draw near to the sun.

I was once Pluto. The appearance of a planet in orbit, but actually a moon. I was devasted to learn I could never be either. I would love to draw near a sun.


There are people in need of more than a handout or hand up
Litmus tests we give people have showed them what we are made of
If you choose to love, love well
If you find someone intriguing, don't caricaturize them
Give them space and time, let them be human
If you choose to love, love well
People will never show you pain until you see it was your hand
People that you hurt will still want to be your friend
If you choose to love, love well
A lion is leaving in the autumn leaves
Both lion and lamb are weeping sorrow and relief
If you choose to love, love well
Go to bed cold, sad, and alone
Remember your two hands are something you can hold
Love is more work and time than one could afford
After loss, I want to love once more
Love may kill you and bring about death
It's the one way to die with a heart still beating in your chest
I choose to love, so love well, so love well, so love well.
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A Year After Hurricane Harvey

Rebuilding your life after a hurricane tears it apart takes time. It only takes a drive through my old neighborhood to remind me of that. I woke up early this morning to drive the 35 minutes from Katy to Houston to see my former home. Last night last year was the last night I would have spent there, and I didn’t even know. It’s a tragedy that one doesn’t know that memories are being erased. As I sat outside my home, I stayed long enough that I only cried, but didn’t weep.

This past year has been the greatest unwanted challenge of my life. I have been vulnerable in the best and worst ways, and I know it is still not over. The same feeling, I had towards my birthday last year is the same as I have now. Why celebrate? I don’t have the lightheartedness needed to supplement the festivities. I survived, losing my roommates, home, and things. I survived, living in a homeless shelter. I survived failure that near ruined everything. I survived, living in 3rd Ward and moving to Katy. I survived another challenging year of seminary.

I survived and I’m grateful, but when do I get to go back to living? When does life start once again? All of the pains and perils of prehurricane are still present. I still want to root myself in Houston, but I don’t know when or where. I still want to have someone to companion with, but who and when? I still want to know why I’m in Texas. It will always feel easier to start anew that to remain where you’re planted, but remain I must. When will life feel like it is settled again?

One thing that I am confident in, is that God is faithful to me even when I am profoundly unfaithful. God could have and should have left me this year. It would not be unwarranted. He didn’t though. He used people, His people, to love me in ways, I didn’t know I needed to be loved. I have been loved at my worst this year. I have been loved when filthy and writhing in my detestability. I have been loved in rebuke and counsel. I have been loved in discipline. I have been loved with people’s time and money. I have been loved by a child who brings praise and his mom and dad. I have been loved by a girl filled with beginnings. I have been loved by an Equa-Nore couple who God has just used in simple and profound ways. I have been loved by my pastor and his wife. I have been loved in settings where I get to place my feelings on a canvas. I have been loved by my family in Atlanta and my family in Katy. I have been loved by classmates and roommates. I have been loved by former coworkers. I have been loved by a woman with a shy dog. I have been loved through the Spirit, from the Father, by Jesus. I have been loved by God.

Hurricanes destroy things, but they help us know who will be there to rebuild when life falls apart.

Dear God, 

Thank you for uprooting everything. I mean this sincerely and sarcastically. I know there are some things I would have never uprooted if You hadn’t plowed through, but I’m grateful you did. I am exhausted. I’m always exhausted. I’m grateful for another year. I’m hoping and praying for a good one next year, but if sorrow comes once more, I pray I would be more faithful to you than before. 

God thank you for loving me when I was unlovable. I don’t deserve it and never will. Thank you for knowing the depth of my failure and still allowing me to know You and be associated with you. 

Amen

Lenten Prayer #5: Mothering

Father,

A sleeping desire was nestled today. Motherhood has always been a sure desire for me. I could not imagine a life without children to love and care for. Matrimony would be nice, motherhood is my heart. To care for, to love, to serve, to be silly, to run, to learn, to grow, to correct, to be humbled daily. While nestled by three children today, she was not awoken. Give me patience to wait for my children. It is hard to not know someone, but already love them so deeply and dearly.

In the Name of the Son, through the Power of the Spirit,

Amen

Race, Beauty, and Hope

The predominant culture suggests normative black features are not attractive. Because of this in the dating realm, black women finish dead last. OKCupid has a study affirming this. While, it is not explicitly stated: “men find black women unattractive”. My assumption is that they don’t. Rounded noses and darker skin are not particularly “in”. Full lips are currently “in” but as a trend. Like thick brows are “in”.

In the past seven days, I have had two conversations with a friend about race and beauty and attraction. They are hard conversations. Not only for the content, but we are distinguishable by both race and gender. Which is not bad, but often you have to explain things that may be inherent to a person who was black and/or a female. Though difficult, I find the conversations refreshing. I process things through them. This blog is not so much about the feelings of unattractiveness or the conversations had with my friend. However, both serve as a black drop to something significant that took place on a warm Saturday afternoon.

I was sitting my Houston mom’s hair salon playing with my cousins. Which is a sight. I’m an African-American and my mom and cousins are white. She takes a break from doing hair. I sit in the chair and my 12-year-old cousin begins pampering me with a massage. It was legit. My 9-year-old cousin comes over and begins to look at my hair. She politely asks if she can touch it.

“Yes. Thank you for asking.”

She continually says how soft and fluffy it is. Fascinated, she gets some Morrocan oil and places it on my hair. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, I have my shoulders and arms massaged, my hair oiled and brushed, and my looks affirmed in a really special way.

What makes this interaction so distinguishable from others, is that my sweet cousins whose skin is so much lighter than mine, think I am beautiful. Not for a black person, but as a person who God created. While, they are old enough to know we look different, there was not this elitism in them. I sit on the couch and my 9-year-old cousin snuggles up with me. She looks at my lips and calls them pretty.

I wish my lips were bigger like yours.” She pouts trying to make them bigger.

“I think your lips are perfect for the face God gave you.” 

The rest of our time is spent snuggling on the couch catching naps at 2 in the afternoon. I don’t know how these sweet children learned to love diversity at such a young age, but it gives me hope.

There is a coming day where there will be no narrative of black women being unattractive. Because our biased expressions and representations of beauty will disappear. Humanity will understand that our racial diversity, our various nose shapes and hair textures, our crooked smiles and pearly whites, our physical differences scream of a divine Creator who loves and revels in variety and in diversity. Who loves the porcelain skin of Scandinavians, the almond eyes of Asians, the raven black tresses of Native-Americans, the warm skin of Latinos, and the rounded noses of African people. I felt that hope today.

I felt that hope today.

It was beautiful.

Gracious to Me

In an instant, emotions billow over me. They consume me. It’s scary. A simple tugboat amid the crashing waves, I am jolted into a storm threatening to capsize my humble vessel. These storms persist over weeks and months. Lighter rain pours, but this is not relief. After a four month midnight, overcast comes. I welcome it. I welcome drab without dismal. It’s not luxury but livable.

The sun’s presence is felt before it appears. Warmth fills the damp air. Humidity has no place and evaporates like my sorrow. The flame casts out the clouds and resumes its shine with the radiant blue sky.

This happened today. What continuously runs through my mind are these thoughts.

Strangers are gracious to me.

Friends are gracious to me.

God’s gracious to me.

All of this is a gift, I have discounted. I have been well loved by a gracious handful of people who have born and been beaten by my billows. I am humbled to be a recipient of their love and grace. Thanks for giving it even when I wasn’t aware. It washed over me today, and was compelled to share.

Quasimodo is a Person!

There is a scene in the Hunchback of Notre Dame that has haunted me since I was six. The Festival of Fools is transpiring. They are revealing the distorted faces of participants. They get to Quasimodo. Esmeralda grips his face and realizes Quasi is not wearing a mask. With his distorted face, he is crowned the King of Fools. What is a moment of excitement turns to terror as he is tied down and is pelted with rotten produce. I cried at six; because I knew it was real. People were mistreated like that in real life. I cried again tonight at twenty-six.

The crowd turns so quickly. I mean he is animalized. He cries out for mercy, but he finds none. What happens in this scene is the same type of suffering I cannot bring myself to watch in Roots, 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, American History X, Hotel Rwanda, or any film about slavery or the Holocaust or genocide. It makes me sick. It’s not entertainment, but a snapshot of human history. Real people died. While, they are honored by their stories being told. It is still a hard story to listen to.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a children’s film. It speaks to the condition of general humanity, but also of Christians. I believe in a story about a man and woman in a garden. Who make a bad decision and suffer some serious repercussions. I believe one of the repercussions is this: while humanity has the propensity for good the same propensity for evil, and are more susceptible to evil. What makes the narrative more frightening is how it’s possible to choose “good”, but still have the potential for that to be corrupted by evil. As, I watch Frollo, I am reminded of men and women (historically and currently) who have utilized religion as a vehicle to control and hurt people. Rather than to love and serve.

I dunno. I have a lot of feelings about this movie, but it is 5AM. Maybe, I’ll edit it later.

2017 Resolutions

Typically, I don’t make resolutions. A yearlong commitment to anything seems a bit drastic. However, the previous statement is just well crafted coding for my personal laziness and desire for a lack of accountability. So here are my 2017 Resolutions.

  1. To have a more consistent view of God.
    • When life is good my perspective on God and His character is fantastic. It is easy to see Him as benevolent and wondrous. This trickles down to how I interpret my life and others. So my interactions with God, self, and others are good.
    • When life is bad my perspective on God and His character gets gross. It is harder to see Him as benevolent and wondrous. My interpretation of self becomes exaggerated and my concern for others stems from pride. My interactions with God, self, and others are not beneficial and unhealthy.
    • If, I can learn to have a more consistent view of God in both good and bad situations, it will alter the way I interpret my life and interactions with others in a positive and sustaining manner. Which will in turn make life less about the general peril and more about a vaster narrative in which, I honestly play a smaller, but meaningful roles.
  2. Read through the Pentateuch and the Prophets
    • In Matthew 5, Jesus makes this huge claim to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. He does it, obviously. I just don’t know all the details of what He meant. So, I will be going through the following books over the course of 2017: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
    • My hope is this: If I can understand the Law and Prophets, I can understand the character of the Messianic King Israel was waiting for and in turn understand the character of the Messianic King, who will return.
  3. Create things that are true.
    • This year, I want to write blogs and music and paint. It is easy to obsess about whether or not it is good or bad art. Which can be subjective. Rather, I want to create things that are true and reflect truth.
    • If I can create things that reflect truth, than I have made art that I consider good.

I think that is enough. Here’s to 2017!