It’s the Patient’s Fault

It’s been three years since cancer took my mother’s life. She battled with cancer for ten years. She went in and out of remission. She sought God. She prayed for healing. She prayed for wisdom. She prayed for guidance. She got treatment. It worked. But cancer is a bitch. It’s pretty good at finding its way back, even when a person is so good fighting it.

Right when I graduated with college my mom was re-diagnosed. I remember sitting in our living room and she asked me what I believed about what God and healing and doctors. Should someone skip treatment and just believe that God will heal them? People in her church were telling her to just believe. They were telling her not to seek treatment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I full believe in healing. I’ve seen people healed. I watched a blind woman get her sight back. God can heal. On his own. But you know what else God can do? He can use people. He created all of these people with all of these abilities and all this knowledge. He uses doctors to heal people all the time. It’s not one or the other. It’s both and. My mother did believe for healing. But she also got treatment. She believed God wanted her to get treatment. I believe God wanted her to get treatment. And she did go into remission again, for a little bit.

So it really hurts when I hear that people who knew my mother, people who studied the Bible with my mother, people who prayed with my mother, people who got words from my mother, are saying that cancer patients don’t stay in remission because they got treatment rather than believing for healing. It hurts that they’re spouting their conspiracy theories to people that I know and love, saying that cancer patients deserve to die, because they didn’t believe enough. That’s along the lines of the Old Testament, saying that people were blinded or developed leprosy because of their sins or the sins of their parents. It’s small minded and stupid.

I’m still hurt. I’m still angry. God is good. His people are not.

The Worst of These

I think that all Jesus wants is to give us eternal life so we can spend it with him.  I think all he wants is to love us.  No matter what.  I think that he came to the world to save it, to save us, from death.  That’s all.  And what began in the garden, what began with sin, was death.  There’s no escaping this, because although Christ came to save the world, and although he succeeded, we did not suddenly become perfect.  But we do get to have a choice now.  We do get to choose him, if we want to.

It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten the “if we want to” part.  It seems to me that some people swing to the side of “you must choose him or you deserve to die.”  As if they forget that we all deserve to die, whether we choose Christ or not.  Because you do not suddenly become perfect or sinless just because you call yourself a Christian.  Yes, your slate is wiped clean in his eyes, but he still knows you.  He still knows the judgment in your heart.
In Matthew 18: 21-35, Jesus tells the story of a ruler who decides to collect on his debts.  He calls a man before him who cannot repay him, and the man falls to his knees, begging for more time, begging not to be thrown in prison.  The ruler has mercy on the man and forgives him of his debt completely.  But then the man seeks out someone who owes him money, as if he has learned nothing, and demands the money be repaid.  When the money is not repaid, he has him thrown in prison.  When the ruler hears of this, he throws the first man in prison to be tortured until his debts are repaid.
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
I think a lot of us forget that we have been forgiven already.  We forget about our sin as if it never existed, as if we had never done anything wrong, as if we had never been in debt, and then we try to force others to “turn or burn.”  We tell people little one liners like, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  HELLO! WE ARE SINNERS TOO!!  All have sinned and deserve death.  And all sin is equal, because all sin is deserving of death.  
So we do things like telling someone, because they’re gay, they’re probably going to hell.  No.  Because they were born into an imperfect, sinful world, they might miss out on eternity with the Creator.  And you telling them their lifestyle is wrong does not allow them to see the loving God you claim to serve.  Who wants to follow a God who will not accept someone for who they are?  I honestly don’t believe anyone wants to be gay.  Nor do I believe anyone really wants to be straight.  I think you just are gay.  You just are straight.  You just are short.  You just are tall.  You just are lanky.  You just are stocky.  You. Just. Are.  I cannot make myself taller unless I add something that is not myself into the mix (tall shoes).  I cannot make myself love a woman unless I pretend to be something I am not.  Wearing high heels is masking who I really am.  Someone pretending to be straight when they’re not would be masking who they really are.

Christ did not come so we could point out people’s differences, flaws, or downfalls.  He did not say to Peter, “stop being so zealous and causing trouble,” he said, “follow me.”  He did not say to Mary, “don’t sleep with so many people,” he said, “follow me.”  Follow me.  The rest will get figured out along the way.
I had a professor in college who told a story about when he first gave his life to Christ.  He went to his pastor and said, “Well, now that I’m a Christian, does that mean I have to stop doing all these things,” and he listed off a bunch of “sins.”  Because he didn’t want to stop.  The pastor told him that he didn’t have to stop doing anything.  It was more about what he started doing.  He started spending time with his savior.  He started serving more.  He started worshipping.  And a lot of those sins?  He stopped doing them when he felt he needed to, when he felt led to, through his personal relationship with the Spirit.
That’s how I honestly believe God wants it to be.  Not every person is the same, so what is “sinful” for one person might not be for someone else.  Yeah, murder in cold blood is probably always a sin, and infidelity, and anything else that can hurt someone else.  But having a few drinks?  Loving someone of the same gender?  Eating shellfish?  Probably not across the board sinful.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”  Paul equated himself with every other sinner, while we like to call him a saint.  In fact, he put himself below everyone else, because he knew his sins, knew himself, better than he knew anyone else.  Yes, he did his fair share of judging and calling people out.  But you know who he was calling out and judging?  Those who had already turned to Christ.  He was calling out those in the Church!  He wasn’t finding random strangers and telling them they were going to hell because they weren’t in the pews every Sunday.

Be like Paul.  Be like Christ.  And never forget who you are.

 

 

New Year

Wash over me
Waves come crashing, rains come falling down
New waters, refreshing
Drought is ending

The thirsty can drink
No need to thirst anymore
Be renewed in this
Be revived in this

Spring up oh well
Can you feel it?
In your heart, you’re overflowing
What you thought was dry is drenched

Can you see death in the land around you?
Because all I see is teaming with green
This land is alive, well, and free
It has not let you down yet

Welcome to a new year
A new life
Be refreshed
This drought is ending

Me Too

You know when you’re certain something isn’t going to happen, because every time it could have happened; every time you thought it might happen; every time your heart made peace with it happening it didn’t happen?
But then at the time when you least expect it, when you’re thousands of miles away with not much money and only a frustrating phone call to go on, it happens?
Me too.

You know when you spend months planning, in innocence, half-heartedly fighting something; giving up and moving on, then accidentally giving in?
Every time you turn away and say no more something within you rebels and you know you’ll give in again, most nights?
Me too.

You know when you make conscious decisions to change your being for the better, making an effort to leave it all behind you?
But then something is destroyed and you discover that you brought it all with you anyway?
Me too.

You know when the crowd is constantly standing in ovation, while your heart, though elated, is still sunk in grief, and no one understands because you hide it well, so you find yourself sitting in a sea of standing bodies?
Me too.

But, you know when all you know has been uprooted, when you find yourself wallowing, when you feel more numb than you’ve ever been?
But you are loved anyway?  You are accepted anyway?  You are forgiven anyway?
Me too.

The Case of the “I Don’t Matter”s

I’m experiencing an increasing case of the “I don’t matter”s.  So much that it’d probably be easier to disappear.  And I don’t need people to try harder or act smarter or to learn to remember.  Because it’s me.

And it makes me think.  Maybe no one really matters.  I mean, people matter to each other, and it’s my fault that I have no one.  I’ve never really learned to have anyone.  But in the largest meaning of the word, no one matters.  We are all just blips.  Time keeps going, and the longer time gets, the smaller chance our existence will impact anything.

I feel really abandoned, but I’m the one who abandons.  I’m the one who packs up and moves away.  I’m the one who doesn’t stay in touch.  I’m the heart breaker with a broken heart.

I went to a friend’s family’s thanksgiving.  I traveled to be there.  On the way home, I realized it probably would have been better for everyone if I hadn’t gone.  My being there changed nothing.  I was just overwhelmed.  Because I don’t like lots of new people.  I don’t like feeling stuck.  I’m not good at socializing.  Why do I think that because there is a holiday, I need to spend it somewhere, when I’d be happier at home?  I don’t matter.

I entered into something I didn’t mean to enter into.  But it wouldn’t matter if I was here or not.  They can argue over everything without me anyway.  And there would probably be fewer arguments if I didn’t show up, because I’m too liberal, apparently.  Anything I have to say just gets interrupted and forgotten.  I don’t matter.

And when people say that nothing is going to change, it always changes.  When they say you won’t get dropped, they’ll have excuses for when you do.  Because it’s impossible to articulate anything real at all.

I feel alone.  But I feel alone because I don’t know how to express what is inside of me.  I don’t know how to make anyone understand this grief that has built up.  I don’t know how to be anyone else.  I don’t matter.

Time Passes Differently

My mother died almost two months ago.  I’m not really sure where to go from here.  But I have some thoughts.  I always have some thoughts.

I spoke at her service.  I wrote a poem and shared some thoughts, along with a poem that she wrote more than 30 years ago.  It was something personal.  Not something I planned on dwelling on.
But people keep asking me to send it to them.  People keep asking for copies.  And I don’t even have it typed up.  I’m not sure that I was planning on typing it up.  Not for a long while.  I feel like asking that of me is a bit insensitive, isn’t it?  I write a lot of things.  Why is this the one thing people keep bugging me about?

So anyway, after all of the mess, I’ve decided to put it here.  Here’s a poem.

 

There is pain
And there is peace
Pain for something lost that words cannot do justice
Peace, because there is no more pain

Songs are sung freely now
Lungs are not aching for breath
Mountains are climbed with ease, now
No need to stop and rest

Adventures can still be had
She’ll go with you still
With every new experience
Delight is more than real

It’s okay to laugh
I’m sure she’s laughing more
In fact, she’s probably dancing now
Her feet never touching the floor

There is a freedom to be basked in
A joy, lighter than air
A truth in her heart she can finally know
The promised land she always dreamed of

I’ve heard time passes different now
So while we’re down here mourning
She spends no time waiting for time to catch up
Saying “I’ll see you in the morning.”

We have pain
She’s in peace
Words can’t do this justice
But remember her peace, now, as she learns to dance in the rain

I Don’t Know What Should Be Said

No one tells you what it’s like to lose your mother at 24 when you’re across the country and are sure she isn’t dying.  No one tells you how to act.  No one tells you what you’re supposed to say.  And maybe they don’t know.

How long until you’re supposed to be okay again?  Because life goes on.  My life goes on.  I have to go to work.  I have to see people.  I have to write.  And really, I am okay.  As okay as I can be.  But I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  I’m not a talker, I’m a writer; yet no one seems to understand that.

Stop asking me how I am, because I won’t have an answer.  I don’t know.  I won’t know.  Any answer will seem like a lie.

All I can say is: don’t take life for granted.  Because now, if I ever fall in love and get married, my mother won’t be there to argue with me over details.  She won’t be there to tell me how great he is, or how I could do better.
I’ll never be able to bring a guy home to her.  And she’ll never get to visit my home here, in the south.
She’ll never get to read my first piece of published work, that I just got delivered to me.  She won’t get to point out all the typos, because there’s a lot, but it’s not my book, so that’s okay.  She won’t get to read anything else I publish either.  My mother will never know me as a professional.

And there a lot of things I could say.  There a lot more things that I meant to say.  A lot more things I meant to write.  Because I’ve been meaning to post this for at least a week now.  And it’s not for lack of strength.  It’s not for any reason other than all of the thoughts that I feel might be caving in on me.  There are too many.  I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know what should be said.