You’ll never guess the butler did it

Sue: ” Hey Megan.  I have a book you have just got to read.  You would never guess that the butler was actually the twins dad. He’d been disfigured in a car accident and blamed the family for stealing his children and was killing them off in vengance.  You will just love it. It is the most suspenseful book I’ve ever read.”

Megan: Cue sound of crickets chirping.

Knowing the ending of a book or a movie disrupts the story telling art.  It is the building up, the guessing and being on a shared voyage with the characters that creates the impact.

When presented with our bibles we are told that it is the living breathing word of God.  It is not like any other book. Most books you read from the beginning as opposed to New and Old divisions.  We read the histories but we have a big problem.  We know the endings.  We know that the ultimate battle will be won my God.  The suspense factor has been taken out.

I think we lose a lot of the meaning and impact of what we are reading because we see an overview of people’s lives and experiences.

Moving forward as someone who is divorced in the church it is easy to feel that we are alienated.  What if we stepped back and re-read some of the stories that we thought we knew from the perspective of the characters who had no idea what was next or what would happen to them?  What could we learn and take strength in?

I think of the story of Esther. We celebrate that she saved the Jews. We know the finished story. We don’t feel the true horror and sorrow that was her life.  To be a young girl without parents  must have been so isolating. To be sent to the palace meant to lose all her hopes and dreams. She would never have a nice Jewish husband and be able to raise their children in their faith. She was being taken out of her community to be put in a place of debauchery, violence and madness. She would be hated by the other women competing for favour and would be targeted for violence by them. She would undergo treatments and training that would be against her upbringing. She would have seen him drunk and out of control and pictured him touching her.  Her wedding night would be without mercy or love or committment. She would have no protection and nowhere to run. He could do anything he liked. She’d be tied to a man who killed his best friends son on a whim. His best friend had already lost one of his two sons in battle. He asked Xerxes if his second son could be spared. Xerxes called his friend to the courtyard and the friend witnessed his second son murdered as a penalty.  This was the man Esther faced.  Can you imagine her fear and hopelessness?  We know the rest of the story but she did not. We don’t know what happened to her afterwards but the dreams of her youth would never be given back to her and the rest of her days would be in this environment.  God put her in a place that was a nightmare and yet she trusted and served him.  It did work but she could not have known that.

Many times we will end up in places and situations that seem impossible for God to redeem.  We might see facets of our lives as nightmares. Re-read the stories as if you didn’t know the endings.  You will find that you are not such an alien after all.   D.

 

Fresh

The other night a great thing happened.  I was dropping my son off at a youth event.  It was complete mayhem, in other words, business as usual. I was talking to some of the other moms when a  woman I hadn’t seen in a while asked how I was doing.  I fix her with a huge smile and said I was doing really great.  It was amazing to realize that I meant it.  I tried to come up with reasons why but there really wasn’t anything in particular.  It was like this fresh wind hitting my spirit.

I didn’t think too much about it until I realized that again today I was feeling good.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am not to feel like a scrambled mess if even for one day.  One of the things I really hated about the mess of divorce was living in active grief.  I felt stuck in a Salvadore Dali painting and I didn’t know when I would find my normal.  I lacked control over my feelings. One day I was up for anything and other days I was too broken to figure out my banking, or clean up or find my way out of the paralysis.  I’d make plans in good faith and then cancel because I just couldn’t bear it.  I really resented being so stuck.  It was like bracing for aftershocks and not feeling secure enough to move back into my own home. I wanted to get on with my life, do the clean up work, but the urge was to lie down and drift.

During the last years of my marriage I channeled the loneliness in sculpting and creating.  I had textures and colours and form to challenge me and help me communicate.  When I was told I no longer had a marriage I found that all my head could produce was static.  I couldn’t organize my feelings or thoughts and since art is communication I couldn’t produce.  That was another loss that really jarred me.  Not knowing when or if it would end was profoundly frightening.

For at least a year I’ve had my work table set up with all my tools and supplies and nothing has been touched. I haven’t made any rugs, or baskets or jewellry or sculptures.                                I put everything away and decided I must not be an artist anymore. I felt blank.

One night I got an image in my head that I couldn’t get rid of.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I started to paint.  I’d never really painted before and all of sudden there were ideas and excitement and I had something to say.  It felt so good.  The colours became vibrant and I felt the little shoots of new growth, humour and light start again.  Other things started unfolding.  I started going through my phone book and touching base with people I hadn’t seen in a while but valued.

This last weekend I even went on a Women’s retreat with a girlfriend whose church I’d never been to.  I stepped out and put myself in a new situation.  As I drove up to the camp I tried not to think about what I was doing so that I wouldn’t alert my inner hermit.  It was a mix of feelings but the thing was I did it. I decided to try and get out of my situation and live.

Yesterday I phoned a travel agency to check out a promotion and found I’ve booked a ticket to celebrate New Years in Istanbul. Let the adventure begin.

I realized there is no path back. The house got demolished in the earthquake and it is time to build anew. I may have to deal with the rubble but I don’t have to live there.  I am taking steps to go on to fresh challenges and joys.

“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying,… I will try again tomorrow.”  Mary Anne Radmacher

Wishing you all new fresh steps. D.

My reality as a teenaged boy and other science fiction

The truth is that I’m not a rainbows and kittens kind of girl.  I enjoy science fiction, sculpting, abstract painting, comic books and a good burger.  A great night is a vintage godzilla film marathon, popcorn and an ice cold Pepsi.My ex once said that I was just a teenaged boy in disguise which in hindsight I think disturbed him. As my ex mother in law would say, “You have odd tastes for a woman”.

I was never a tomboy, just creative with a Far Side sense of humour.  I was a medical social worker and science fiction was infinitely more interesting or exciting than any movie of the week and it was a great escape from the intensity of my work.  It asked all the “What if?” questions and everything was in technicolour.  In truth the monsters were usually extensions of the human condition and a lot of the stories were morality tales but with the greatest make up and special effects.  In the hollywood movies it was usually clear who were the bad guys and the good guys and I could suspend disbelief and just enjoy myself.  In the books you were provoked with moral and intellectual dilemmas that challenged you to new perspectives and sumptuous feats of imagination, and they were just plain cool.

I hadn’t always been involved in art but once I got engaged I found that I was home alone a lot (what’s wrong with this picture?) as he was in an intense school program that lasted until the end of our first year of marriage.  I’d never been a good art student as most of that had to do with perfectly replicating drawings of horses.  That is how I remember it.  Very neat and tidy girls would draw replicas of horses with their perfectly sharpened pencils and got As.  Mine looked like disgruntled weasels with gland problems.  Needless to say I did not win any scholarships. I hung out with friends, attended youth group and watched too much TV. My parents were so proud but I digress.

During the time alone I started having dreams with amazing colours and textures and patinas and I wanted desparately to try and reproduce them. When I experimented crafting in 3D I came alive.

I began to explore my need to create.  I found that with a husband that traveled constantly the need to communicate became more pressing. I could express emotions with colours, shapes and forms and lose myself in learning.  In all of this I was learning who I was, what I liked and how I interpreted my world.  Unfortunately it wasn’t what my ex wanted.  I wanted him to be proud of me, of the shows or occasional article in the news but he was still a singularity apart.  I tried to change myself.  I packed up all the supplies and focused on making a clean home a show home, the meals upgraded from healthy to trendy, be the best mom possible and my spare time spent at the gym.  None of it brought him closer and now I was the one feeling lost.  I didn’t know how to fix things, what to be to be wanted besides at night time.

When he finally left I cried convulsively for two months unable to focus, terrified of the future and knowing that if only I wasn’t me maybe I could have been loved.  If only I could have sketched lovely fricking horses and could have watched daytime TV and pretend that the hosts weren’t muppets from hell, and if I could golf and drink white wine, if only,…. If only I wasn’t me.

When I finally stopped crying I pulled out the clay.  I began with little pieces. Then I left all my supplies out.  With a shock I realized I could do that.  In time I found that I didn’t have to stay up late creating to avoid my life. I could create when I wanted because my space was my own and I could sleep when it was good for me because I was free.  The person I’d become, the real me didn’t have to apologize for what I wasn’t. I love weird, quirky things, indie music, late night discussions about faith, politics, flying carpets, eternity, travel and love.  I can do that now.  My reality is wide open and I can explore.
Divorce can seem like a complete rejection of who and what you are but you have the choice to embrace your inner teenaged boy, your foodie, your world explorer, activist or humorist.  I realize that by rejecting who I was I could never be who I was meant to be. I’ve spent most of my life saying I believe that God loves me.  I believed that I knew who I was and liked that person but when my partner threatened to reject me I was willing to toss me out too.

Being divorced means re-evaluating who you are as a singlette. I pray you all find your reality and appreciate your own voice.

D.Isaiah 61:7

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