My Brush Pile

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I semi-fled. Or retreated. Up the staircase. I plopped myself down with my back against the door. I stared out the window at a gigantic swaying tree. I took a few deep breaths. And I noticed my tiny closet window is the same shape as a stop sign. So, I stopped my overthinking. I stalled. Nobody was coming so I just didn’t move.

After I spent some time praying and looking out the window in my closet, I concluded that ultimately, I have to give somebody permission to hurt me. With their words or thoughts. I give them access to my brush pile. And if the conditions are right, they light me up and ignite a fire that has the potential to grow. And grow. Inside of my head. Trickling down to my heart. You see, it’s me, most of the time that gathers the fuel for the fire. I make a pile and stack it up. Nice and neat. The little insecure thoughts, the fallen twigs and sticks. The bigger, and much heavier branches also get thrown into my brush pile. They’re my doubts and fears. The fake truths. The lies I tell myself. My worries. All of the unknowns. In hindsight, it’s quite unfair to blame anybody but myself when my fire gets lit. Because I supplied the fuel. That was all on me. How could a person that loves me and that I love, too, know how big my brush pile had grown? If I didn’t tell them.

It’s not their fault.

Because it doesn’t matter how well you know a person or even how much you love them, it can be a tricky business knowing someone’s exact thoughts or fragile state at an exact moment in time. Or knowing their exact emotional or literal response to one of your thoughts. Ahhhh. Mind reading. If you could have any super power, would you choose the ability to fly or read someone’s thoughts? Could you help a loved one or even a complete stranger feel less insecure, perhaps more important if you knew exactly what she was thinking at a specific moment? Would we treat each other more gently and compassionately if we could slip past their outer appearance and sneak into their head to understand what they actually were thinking? What if we could know exactly how they felt? For better or worse.

I realize that I should have never been gathering sticks, stacking up all these bits of fuel. But I do. Like most people. And it’s extremely hard to let them go sometimes. We can oftentimes dodge or escape other people’s opinions or thoughts, but sometimes we are not as skilled in escaping our own negative thoughts.

We need help. With ourselves and each other. We all need the grace of God acting as the hose or the fire extinguisher, and we all need the type of person willing to stand there next to the flames helping us out. Or else we may continue to gather fuel, purposely or unintentionally causing our brush pile to grow. And grow. We may even go looking to pick a fight with someone with a torch who we know will happily light our fire. And not in the “C’mon baby, Light my Fire” Doors kind of way. In the self-defeating, humiliating sort of way.

It didn’t take a blow torch for me today. Just a few matches. My brush pile burned down. Which helped me learn that I need to stop gathering sticks, branches, etc. I need to be more kind and forgiving to myself. Maybe you do too.

Kitchen Sink Prayers

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I looked out my kitchen window at the sky. The purples, pinks and oranges melted together as if they were exhausted but in a beautiful way. I loaded the dirty dishes as my boys ran around and around. In and out of the kitchen, careful of the open dishwasher. I tilted my head and noticed a crooked bunch of clouds shaped like a heart. Only there was a hole in the middle. I began to slow, sneaky tear cry.

I talked to God in my head and questioned who gets healed. Why not the dying child whose parents have a faith so thick it nearly suffocates all who witness it? Why not heal the women who so desperately want to fill their wombs with a child? Don’t worry about my gingivitis, but could you heal my diseased lungs? Or the starving children? Or the child that hides from an abuser day in and day out? Please heal the broken marriages. Heal the broken hearts. Heal the lonely. The alone. The abandoned. The orphaned. The neglected.

I looked out the window again at the fading sunset. The heart cloud had disappeared. My son walked in, looked at me, reached up and began pushing on my face with his hands. He was trying to physically make me smile by pressing on the sides of my mouth. I must have looked the way I felt inside. Hurt. Forgotten. Unimportant. Not worthy enough to be healed.

It’s a delicate and extremely sensitive matter. Opening up old wounds, not forgotten but semi-healed, from the inside out. Who gets to be healed, blessed, cured, saved and fed?

I wiped my eyes on a dirty dishtowel next to the stove and left a mascara print.

I can’t believe in a god who picks and chooses. I can’t wrap my head around a god that does not heal the woman who could not make it close enough to touch his clothes. I can’t believe in a god that does not love all. That doesn’t feel the hurt, the pain, the breath-stealing moments of all. The emptiness. The loneliness. The desire to do more but to be so physically or emotionally restrained. Tied to a chair. In the middle of nowhere. With no one.

I go to God. Plead with God. With a faith that’s been around the block a time or two. A faith that questions, cries out, begs, grows then nearly gets extinguished by the pain, unfairness, and people who say the wrong thing. A selfish faith that sees the world through my near-sided eyes. What do I know? Less and less.

I know the beauty of a sunset. The beauty of my son’s toothless laugh with his squenched up nose. I’ve felt the love of many, the endless unconditional love. I’ve laughed a million laughs. I’ve held countless hands. I’ve felt the kicks, elbows and hiccups of the babies I’ve held and snuggled in the middle of the night. I’ve chased giggling toddlers. I’ve answered late night phone calls. I’ve hugged mothers. I’ve heard the cries of many. And through it all, I’ve held on tightly to this faith that I can’t begin to comprehend. It’s far too complicated so I just do the littlest and the most that I can. And love through it all. And I pray that God is okay with my confused, wounded kitchen sink prayers.