Tuesday, February 10, 2015

No Longer Orphan

Twelve years. 

Today marks twelve years since my father died. And recollection of the cold fact still brings fresh and quick tears to the surface. Not because I can't let go of one distant day's unpleasant events, but because the day-- Feb. 10-- is metonymic for the four previous years I watched him and my family be crushed under the weight of cancer, and for the four subsequent years I struggled to survive in the aftermath. The day reminds me of the narrative that has shaped my life. 

And yet, today also marks the realization that though this painful story-- of cancer, death, and fatherlnesness-- has shaped my life, it no longer defines me. I'm no longer trapped in the lie that because my father was sick or is dead, I am hopeless, a "troubled child," an orphan. I'm no longer stuck in the ambivalence that comes from being unable to connect to a God who calls Himself "Father," or from somehow believing that even if I let Him in, He'll leave me too. 

I still wrestle with these things, and will continue to peel back the layers of healing as life goes on-- I will never graduate from healing school. And yet I'm learning to celebrate the fact that healing and the Source of it far outshine the scars.

Hear me, this doesn't mean the pain of loss isn't real, present, or valid. It just means it no longer has the power to tell me who I am, who God is, or what my future will be. It colors my life, but it doesn't control it. 

And so today, at the twelve year mark of my father's passing, I honor his life by grieving the loss of it. But I also rejoice with him that death-- even the death of a precious father-- doesn't get the final say.

What narratives have shaped your life? What do you think of the idea of God healing-- and reinterpreting-- your story moving forward?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sex and the Gospel Pt. 10: Eucharist

So, 50 Shades of Grey is going to be a movie. I don’t want to go into details about the story or the impact it has had around the world since the book was originally published, but I do want to say that as a woman who grew up in the culture that both created and consumed this narrative, I simultaneously understand and yet grieve its celebration as a “love” story.

I understand because I know how natural it is that a generation of abused little boys and girls have become abusers. I understand because I know what it is to want love and intimacy and think the only way to get it is to degrade yourself or become an object. I understand because I know that it is easier to wield your own shame as an instrument of power than to feel and mourn the shame that you inherited when those who had power over you wrongly used it.

And yet, I also grieve. I grieve because I have come to know a Love that has covered my shame and lifted my head. Because I’ve met the One who emptied Himself of power that I might be rescued from the distorted and misguided use of it. I grieve because in His eyes, week after week at the Communion rail, I’ve come to understand that I am not an object, but a person—a person He loves and cherishes as His own body. 

I grieve because I contemplate His passion and realize, He gave His very body over to death so that I might live—that the only violence in relationship with Him is that which He took onto Himself that I might be restored to my full dignity as a human being. I grieve because this narrative of self-giving and loving union has so transformed me that the old one-- the one that used to define me-- is now exposed for what it is. Death.

And so, I guess I also hope. I hope because He is not just an idea, not just a character in a book. He is a person whose Love reinterprets the most intimate narratives of our lives.

His name is Jesus.