*Please listen to the song as you read
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30 (b)
“Your name spoken is a spreading perfume.” Song of Songs 1:3
The movie “A Star is Born” paints the picture of a deep and painful love, rooted in complications of artistry, song, alcoholism and fame. And although the movie itself is “surface,” that appears to be the point; that we ourselves are surface; that we become numb and immovable based on our responses to the world. And while we may not use alcohol or substances to fill that void and become “surface” we use other things; the portrayal of ourselves on social media, the deep seed of deceit among friends, the veil that exists on our tears. We all, to a certain extent, are the alcoholic and addict portrayed in Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie- we are afraid to live our own truth.
As a sexual abuse survivor, I often find myself in this position- questioning my authenticity, my outsides. Without something to numb the pain, can I be my authentic self? Is Jesus enough?
In the last two months I have found myself before the crucified body of our Lord too many times to count. I try to identify with all the good that came from the crucifixion, but I find myself melting into God’s voice as he calls me intimately into his suffering, and I cannot stop myself from falling madly in love with him.
You see my love story with God is a painful one, so I can identify with the very “surface” story of this movie which forces me to remember my own unwillingness at times to go deeper with God; to remember the way in which he called me. In horrific pain-no middle, a dark hole, lost.
I am reminded of my love for him in the rest of the verses in Song of Songs
Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth,
for your love is better than wine,
better than the fragrance of your perfumes,
Your name is a flowing perfume-therefore young women love you
And at first glance these very shallow and intimate verses appear to be just that- surface and I’ve heard it all before. To a survivor, it may appear to be a line to get me to be physically closer to you, something to reel me in.
But to a survivor who has a love affair with God, it is the realness of the soul. And as much as I write before my Lord’s dangling body when I am on my knees in the chapel, is as much as he exposes me and my pain for what it is- a desire to be real, to be loved for who I am and not for who the world wants me to be.
Why Lord, is it so hard for them to love me? Why Lord is it so hard to even love myself?
Even before the crucifix, I have flashbacks- of him that took my sturdiness away from me and HIM who saved me all on my knees while the candles burn. What a haunting conundrum.
I don’t want to be shallow, I want to be deeply personal, I want to be me. And I cry out to God in my pain and ask Him to make me someone else. Someone else with another purpose. Someone who is not married to the crucifix.
But in those moments as I cry out in desperation to be another created being, another version, one where the human slate of my soul is wiped clean from the dirty hands that touched me, more than once, I stay perfectly still.
But my story is not an anomaly, is not one, is not only me. Because from that pain comes the flowering of truth, the fighting to be myself, the pursuit of truth and justice in all things; the deeply abiding conviction to stay on the path.
It is a supernatural overtaking to be able to thank God for your pain and disgust. To not want to find a way out, but a way in. To ask God in the midst of your pain for more, if it means the salvation of one other soul from this corrupt and morally bankrupt world.
And I cry out to my divine lover, kiss me Lord with the pain of the crucifixion so I can feel something real, something other than my shallow pain. Because your pain is meaningful and changed mine into something meaningful. And it is better than wine.
And I am left on my knees in front of Him. No longer wandering far away into the corners and recesses where I can hide, but directly to the cross where He is.