Give up the time

Jennifer Fulwiler, a Catholic radio host on Sirius XM, has a segment on Fridays called Jen’s Jukebox, where callers share their favorite secular songs that have a spiritual meaning to them. The hard and fast rule: the song cannot be a Christian song. This provides insight on the caller’s behalf to attach spiritual meaning behind pop culture words.

When I finally sat down to watch the movie “A Star is Born, ” I was upset and dissapointed that after weeks of trial and tribulation, the Lord had allowed me to watch such a deeply painful movie. The songs were vibrant and way too real, and my heart came away so heavy,- even moreso than it had before. I looked at my husband in the midst of tears and heavy gasping breaths and refused to let go of his hand. I apologized for anything that I had ever done to him. I apologized for being so petty at times and told him that I valued him beyond comprehension. But the tears and the heaviness on my chest would not go away. And after this last song, “I’ll never love again,” I could not hold onto him tight enough. All of the memories between us passed in hyperspeed through my very human and remorseful mind.

Why do we hurt the ones we love the most?

And as he held me and  told me that I was being overly harsh on myself, I couldn’t help but think of the other marriages that have suffered and are suffering over human selfishness. In the core of my being I wanted to shout out to all of them that the devil is a liar, there is a hole of nothing on the other side. 

These deeply painful lessons that I have learned about the sacred gift of marriage came at a high cost, but forced me straight into the arms of Jesus, who held me tightly when I couldn’t hold my own self up.

You see my husband was the casualty of another man’s sin. And so that man’s sin did not only effect me, but in turn effected a  multitude of people.

When you are running inside of yourself to get away there is nowhere to go but out.

I have left many people this way- in the wake of my inability to deal with conflict and pain. It was too difficult to let them love me, and too difficult to explain the depths of my pain. But to the one that loved me the most, I was slipping away. I couldn’t love my husband because I couldn’t love myself. I hated myself. 

In my cries for help, he could not recognize or hear me. In those dreams that I had over and over where I was in grave danger and my phone refused to call 911 as many times as I tried to dial, something was preventing me from pressing down on those numbers. I tried many times but a force greater than me controlled my fingers. I was spiraling and nobody seemed to be able to help me. How could they not see, I thought. How could they not see I’m drowning?

But rather than an extended arm I had arms that pushed me farther down. My sin became greater. And once in, I could not get out- there was no way out, until the great Master came and rescued me.

Sharing the details of one’s own demise is deeply personal and greatly distressing. But my demise was not my end, it was my beginning. The great healer saved me, saved my marriage, told me it was ok to be completely broken, shattered in a million pieces. And rather than sweep those pieces up and toss them in the garbage, he used them and is using them to create HIS masterpiece. There are pieces still missing, but I am living them. They, like the others, will one day be part of God’s greater plan.

And although I have apologized to my husband one thousand times, I apologized again to him for not having the courage to get help sooner. I could have lost everything, we could have lost everything. How could I ever thank Christ? I can’t. There are limitations to my human self.

How can you thank me? He said this morning.

Write your words. Speak your truth.

So after two years of being away from this keyboard, in the painful turmoil of my soul, he has worked enough on me that he finds me worthy to type his words to the world.

Our work for the Lord is never in vain. Hold on for the ride.

Shlomi I love you.

Shallow

*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.