Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Testimony

I have this vision of me standing before a congregation. It is not my home church. I have been called before these people to speak. Someone there know that I have a testimony. Someone, who doesn't know me or the words that I have to speak, knows that I have something to say. As I make my way to stand before the people of the church, I am filled with apprehension. My palms are sweaty. My heart beat kicks into overtime. I am sure the congregation will be unable to hear me over the thumping of my precious organ.

"I'm not good at speaking," I start off. All eyes are on me. They wait patiently; yet, are eager to hear what this strange girl has to say.

"I'm a bad person," I tell them. "At one time I could've injured anyone of you simply be tearing you apart with my words. I have broken hearts. Told lies. I've made those who have me loved me cry from the pain I inflicted. And when I was done, when the last ugly words was spoken from my lips, I'd walk away from them and never look back.

So, yes, I have been terrible. I am a bad person. In fact, it seems like I've spent half my life hurting people. And then the other half regretting it.

Over the past couple of years I've apologized to those I've harmed. I've tried to explain my behavior. Not so much as excuse it, but just to answer any of the 'whys' that may be floating around in their minds. I went to others for absolution. And while it was a good thing that I did that, maybe even commendable, it did not relieve me of my guilt. I still carried that terrible emotion with me. Because, you know, while being a victim if horrible, it is knowing you have the power, and the will, to inflict injury to another human being that will tear you apart. That's the ultimate heartbreak. To know you hurt others on purpose.

So, I carried the guilt and pain with me for years. I wrapped myself in it. Using it as a shield between me and all others. I never realized in doing this I was removing all traces of happiness from my life. Worse than that, I removed God from my life as well.

Do you remember what it was like before you were saved? Do you ever look back and wonder how you made it through life without God's grace? Without His hand firmly placed over yours? Ever wonder how you could've called yourself happy when you weren't receiving His blessings? I do. I look at my life now, compare it to my life then, and realize I was drowning a sea of emotions and turmoil. And this sea, this ocean of regret and anger, was one that I had created.

Now I don't pray like everyone else. I'm a writer. A person that lives inside their head. I personify all the abstract elements of life that I have trouble coming to terms with. So, this is how I speak with God. I do it in my imagination. I envision Him kicked back in the recliner, shoes off, relaxing as we discuss the various topics that come up between us.

Every once in a while He even takes a swig of a pepsi.

So, one evening God and I were having a discussion. By this time He'd begun to work in my life. And I was struggling between how I wanted to live and how I should live.

You know the struggle. Don't you? Every Christian is familiar with it. 

That night God was asking why I wasn't getting closer to Him. Why was I drawing a line in the sand and refusing to cross. I really had no answer except one.

I just don't deserve you, I told Him. I'm a bad person.

This answer hurt Him. I could see it on His sweet face. I could feel it in my heart. It saddened Him as well. But it was the truth. And, if nothing else, I have become honest.

Now, God loves us. Loves all of us. We are taught this very thing at an early age. As children, we sing songs about His love so we begin to believe it. Trust it. Accept it. But, I don't think we truly ever understand it. Not til much later in life.

It's unconditional, you see. It's a love so great that no matter the act, God still loves us. No matter how unworthy we are, no matter how much we hurt each other, or ourselves, He still loves us. He still wants what's best for us.

He is still will to forgive us.

It's the same love, only on a grander scale, that I have for my children. I can not think of a single act that my child could ever do that would me love them any less. Now, I could stand here and recite a long list of things that would hurt me. Or anger me. But nothing could ever make me love them less.

I would sacrifice my life for my children the same way God gave His son to be sacrificed for me.

This also raises a question. Are we capable of unconditional love? We are made in His image so one would believe so. But can we say that we've ever loved another human being that much? Can you look at your spouse, your significant other, friend, or anyone and honestly say "No matter what, I will always loves you."? Before you answer that, before you make up your minds about what your heart is capable of, let me pose another question. A more important one.

Do you love yourself unconditionally? Do you love yourself in the manner that God loves you?

I know I didn't. And it's an idea that I struggle with to this day. And because of that struggle, that constant need to pay for sins that have long been forgiven, I am unable to walk as closely with God as He wants.

As I want. As I need to.

We are all fallible creatures. Imperfect in every way. We are destined for happiness, yet few of us ever achieve it. And this is simply because we refuse to love ourselves. To see ourselves the same way God sees us.

When I look in the mirror I see an odd girl. I have a big nose. My lips don't fit my face. My hair refuses to be tamed, forever sprouting gray hairs despite my best efforts to color them. I have fat where I wish I didn't.

My thoughts are sporadic. My imagination can conjure up such terrifying images that I sleep with a teddy bear. While I may be smart, I really don't know anything. I am horribly shy. I don't like being touched. I'm over analytical. And my favorite place to hang out is a graveyard at night. I'm odd. I don't fit in with my peers.

Oh, and let's not forget, I'm a bad person.

That's what I see. That's the message I receive from my reflection.

What does God see? His child. His creation. He made only one of me. And He loves me with all His might. He wants nothing but the best for me. He loves me so much that He's willing to allow me to make my own decisions. Then He lovingly forgives me when I make the wrong ones.

And it's the same with each of us. He loves us all in the same way. Giving each of us the tools we need to survive life and all its ordeals, he also instilled certain talents so we can help others. He made us in pairs. Giving us bonds of trust to bring each of us together. And when someone breaks that bond, He gives us the strength to heal.

And, if we allow it to occur, He'll form a new bond between us and someone else. A stronger bond. A bond that will bring us closer to Him.

He loves us enough to allow us to go through dark days. To endure trials that sometimes breaks us. Crushes us. Nearly destroys us. And why does He do that? The same reason we allow our kids to climb up on the edge of the couch knowing that they'll eventually fall and get hurt. So they'll learn.

So we'll learn.

I've seen my share of hard times. I've experienced so much that I wonder how I can stand here before you today. The only answer I come up with when I ask the question of "Why me" is "Why not".

There have been times in my life where I wanted to die. Whether it was a broken heart, or a broken body, an even occurred that caused me to want to end it all. And when I couldn't, or wouldn't, die I simply became angry. That's when I would turn my attention to God. When I would tell Him how I felt. Do you know what His response was?

I love you, He'd say. I'm so glad you're talking to me. What is it you need?

Then I would just cry.

So, yeah, I'm a bad person. I've hurt many people. But, I am a forgiven person. I am a person who is loved unconditionally. I walk with His grace. I stand on faith. I admit my mistakes. Always asking His forgiveness. Never turned away. I am learning to love myself as He loves me. See myself as He sees me. And I hope the same for all of you."

The vision disappears after that. I have no idea what it means. I'm just grateful to have a testimony.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I am nervous with him here. Nervous and excited at the same time. His voice is soft. His laugh is loud. He fills the room with the words he speaks. I listen to everything this precious man has to say. I want to beg him to slow down. I swim in his language. The way he speaks on topics that I know nothing about.

I watch him rub his palms over his knees, wiping the sweat from them. I can tell he is nervous as well. He begins to talk again about things that don't have any place in the moment. I know what he's doing. He's filling the silence. I have grown to understand why this occurs. Silence can be uncomfortable between two people in a new situation. It speaks louder than any words can. It is the silence that reveals how we feel. What we fear. What we don't know.

He clears his throat. I long to touch the smoothness of his neck. I want to caress his cheek. See what his skin feels like. Remind my fingers of the sensation just in case they have forgotten. But, I hesitate. He must make the move. I do not want to rush this gentle man. One wrong move could drive him from me.

That is the last thing I want to do.

"Come closer," he whispers to me. And I do. I move as close to him as I can without crawling into his skin. I have kissed him before. Only then it was surprising. An exercise in exploration. No intent behind the act. We kissed to meet each other. To introduce our hearts to one another. This time is different. There is a purpose. A reason.

As our embrace intensifies, I climb into his lap and seat myself comfortably. I fit within him like we were made for one another. My curves match his. I hear the small noises he makes under his breath and I am excited to know that it is meant for me.

He breaks free and looks me in the eyes. He tell me he trusts me in a tone reserved for confessing love and desire. It is a small voice. An intimate one.  My breath quickens once more as he brings his mouth to mine. My pulse races as I beg for it to slow its rhythm least I miss anything this beautiful creature has to say.

"I trust you," I tell him. And I mean it with all my strength.  I try to tell him, to explain, that my trust for him began the night I heard his voice. It grew each day he spoke my name. I desperately wanted to say how I give thanks to God each day for him the same way people give thanks for good health. Or for the air they breathe.

"I trust you," he repeats as he rubs his forehead against mine. The gesture is as intimate as the words he speaks. I feel his emotions as I sense mine. I inhale his scent. It is familiar, yet foreign. I kiss his lips once more. Memories, alien to me even now, run through my mind. He belongs in my past, nestled within a long forgotten time. Yet, after all these years, my body knows his. Even though I can not remember. It is a contradiction in terms. One that I am accepting of.

I run my tongue down his neck. His hands lock around my waist. While my breathing is fast, his remains at a constant steady pace. He is in no hurry. While I am rushing over him. Ready to usher in a new experience with this man that has proclaimed his trust for me.

Trust. Such a beautiful word. It is sacred. Something that is fragile and strong at the same time. It is a word that should be held in a higher esteem than love. And used less often. I love everyone. The broken. The bruised. The mean and ugly people who try to bring all those around them to their knees. The ones who have lashed out and tried to see me humiliated. Shunned. I have loved those who brought tears to my eyes. Bruises to my body. I love them all. Even now. But, I do not trust many. Nor does he.

He gathers me up once more in his arms and pulls me on top of him. He is a rock. Solid. Secure. Strong. Whereas I am weak. Fragile. Small. As I lay on him, kissing, breathing, tasting his saliva in my mouth, I feel safe. No harm can come to me as long as he walks nearby. In his arms, I am trusted. Secure. Everything makes sense. Words have no meaning.

I have no ending and he does not begin.

"I trust you," he tells me.

Once again, I return the sentiment. And I pray that he can hear the true meaning behind those three small words. I pray to God that he can understand that he is home now. That I will take care of him. I will shelter, feed, clothe, and protect him. Me, fragile and small, will guard against the evils of the world. They will not touch him as long as I am nearby.

I beg God to let this man hear my words. I need him to understand that I will pray for and with him. He needs to know that the motion of his breathing at this very moment sends every nerve ending I possess into total ecstasy.  I want him to realize that I desire to greet him every morning with a kiss. And to end every night with him in prayer.

As I tenderly bite down on his lower lip, a small moan escapes his throat. I relish it. It is music to me. I try to find the courage to tell him this. That I want more moans from him. That I want to hear him speak any words that he feels he must. That I will listen even when he can not find what he needs to say.

I tell him all this. I tell him my heart's secrets and more when I whisper to him, "I trust you too."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Insomnia Part Six: A Call to Arms

Sleep. I vaguely remember the sensation of breathing deeply, eyes closed, as my mind traveled through time. My body, relaxed within itself, would rest as the clock ticked away the hours til dawn.

Sleep. It is a distant memory. It is an activity that I have not taken part in for months. My mind does not separate reality from madness. Night has taken over my world. The moon, crimson red, spilling out bat-like creatures, hangs close. It watches as I lead my small band of soldiers down the blood soaked street.

Sleep. Even when I was caught in the grip of a horrible nightmare, I never witnessed carnage such as what is laid out before me.  Bodies, slashed by the wind's force, are strewn about. Blood seeps into pools that we march through without hesitation. I scan the area, taking in the view of my neighbors burning from the fire that continues to rain down around us. The scent of burnt flesh reaches me. Instead of being repulsed by the smell of scarred tissue, I am drawn to it. Death, with its pungent odor, beckons me to follow it into the cemetery. I pay heed to the call and continue to lead my army down the hellish road.

Houses burn all around us. Cars, caught in a never ending inferno, emit black smoke that reaches the dead heavens.  Screams of agony sing out. I thrive on them. They cause my blood to race. I'm excited. Thrilled at the pain that is all around.

I make my way through the fire and destruction. Flames, fierce and unforgiving, chill me to the bone. I wrap my arms around myself. I do not burn. Fire can not touch me, for it is now my home. I traded in my heavenly rewards when I embraced Insomnia and pledged my love to him.

Ah, Insomnia. My old friend. My nightly visitor marches to my left. I can hear his thoughts as he scans the surroundings. He is wistful. Insomnia fears that this blood bath will be over too quickly. He wants them to suffer. He yearns for Hell to be unleashed on Earth. As it stands now, I believe he will get his wish.

Insomnia. Lucifer. Devil. My friend. My confidant. The only friend that I have known for months. He has taken my hand and stayed with me during the night hours when all the world slept. He lovingly spoke with me. Confronted my fears. Challenged my beliefs, my dreams, my existence. I take in his profile, clean, generic. He is tall, a little over 6 feet. Lean with a runner's build. His long arms are muscular. His stance is slight.  His skin is tan, like my own. We are of the same tribe. The same species. His light brown hair is cut short. His eyes, brown as well, twinkle with a hint of mischief. There is nothing threatening about my companion. My fellow comrade. He is no more than a faint memory in time.

Sensing my gaze, Insomnia looks over and winks.

"Help me!" I hear screams from all around. "Oh dear God, help me!"

God is not here. Once, He roamed the neighborhoods, watching over us. Enjoying the laughter, the smiles, that He created. Once, when the sun was bright and the breeze was warm, He sang to us through the birds that flew overhead. His whisper floated down on the lips of children. God was everywhere. Always there to guide us. To lift us. To let us know, though our faith may be shallow, like the shores on a placid lake, He was still there.

Now, God is no more. His presence is nowhere to be felt. Mankind, in our need to get more out of life than what we put into it, brushed The Creator to the side. We have no use for His rituals. For the thankfulness that a child should feel towards their parent. We took it all for granted. We felt we deserved all that was handed to us. And when we were no longer handed our riches, the bright shiny life that we had grown accustomed to, we destroyed what we had.

Humans are foolish in the most dangerous of ways.

The street that I live on is longer than I remember. Or maybe it is just the destruction that has caught my attention. It feels that we have been walking for days. My companions and I. Insomnia continues to gaze about. He walks on my left. He remains close by. I could reach out and touch him if I so desired.

To my right is a hellish beast. I can not recall when he joined our march, but he is here now. He carries on on hooves. The bottom half of his torso is lined with black fur. He walks on the hind legs of a bull. His gait is steady. Strong. His upper torso is one of a man. His bulging muscles are lined with veins. They are a road map of his body. Showing hills and valleys where there should be none. His face is hard. Lean. Smooth like granite. His jet black hair cascades down his back. It is straight and made of twine. He is focused on the street ahead. He does not seem to notice as my eyes cover his body. The beast is frightening and beautiful. He is a massive creature. His broad shoulders rock back and forth as he keeps pace to some unheard beat. His height far exceeds mine. I can only estimate him to be close to seven feet tall.

Dizzy from gazing on him too long, I look away. 

Behind us, marching in unison, are the shadows that once lived in my room. Their cadance echos across the neighborhood. These shadows are no longer shadows. Once they left the safety of the corners of my bedroom, they began to morph into beasts of solid matter. And when, one by one, they ventured out into the night, their eyes began to glow bright yellow. The wind, clawing at its victims and slowing ripping them to shreds, seems to solidify these creatures. They hunch over, ready to leap on all fours and run into the night. Their bodies are glowing red with hot ash. Their jaws lay open, saliva dripping from their blazing tongues, ready to eat.

A quick glance behind me reveals that I have seven of these demons at my disposal. They look to me, their leader, with rapt attention. They march steady and on point; ready for my command. Seeing them, in all their horrific glory, gives me a sense of peace. I know these were the monsters in my mind. I am comforted by the knowledge that they are my creation. These are my children.

As we walk down the street, chaos surrounds us. Men and women run screaming out in pain and terror. The fire continues to rain down all around. It catches its prey, stopping them in their tracks. The wind whips through my hair. Ahead of me, the wind grabs hold of some poor human. Slicing the flesh apart. Blood flies from her body, as if it is erupting from a volcano. She makes an awesome sound. Almost like an animal caught in a painful trap. Unharmed, I continue on as it lays slaughter to the next mortal it meets.

The scene is madness. Beautiful madness.

I create the pace we are marching to. Armed with only the hockey stick, I am intent on reaching my destination. The cemetary. The place where I am to meet the army. And my commander.

The once normal street that I drove down everyday has come to an abrupt end. I stand in a pool of blood as I look at what used to be acres of houses. Gone are the picket fences. The swing sets. Gone are the toys to indicate children once resided here. There are no animals. All that's left are empty shells of homes and burning rubble. Bodies litter the once kept yards. I see a hill up ahead. It slopes downward to something that I can not see. But, there is no need for me to view what lays below us. I can smell it. The putrid smell of decay greets me. It is a boney hand reaching out for me and pulling me towards its origins.

I am giddy with excitement. I can not wait to go.

Insomnia has other ideas. "Wait," he instructs me. "Do you have a plan? Do you know what is needed?"

"No. How am I supposed to have a plan? It was you that called me to arms. You are the one who gave me a weapon and instructed me to fight. I don't know what I'm doing."

The creature to my right gave a low rumbling growl. "You know," it said. "What does your heart say? What does your soul desire?"

"I want blood."

It nods and points the way. We make a path down the hill. It is rocky. Treacherous even. I find myself stumbling here and there over what I think to be boulders and broken tree limbs. A glance down tells me differently. These are the bodies of my neighbors, my friends, that I am walking over.

Ahead I see what I have been unknowingly yearning for. It is the statue. The black angel that has been in my mind since the first night the raven brought me here. I can see the thing breathing slowing. It is a labored breath. The eyes, shut on my previous visit, are now open. They are red with specks of black through out. Hot tears trickle down its smooth face, giving off steam as it touches its stone cheek. The eyes are fixed on me and the demons that have followed me here.

The massive wings, six feet from the tip of one wing to the other, begin to flap in the rhythm of my heart beat. It is in tune with my body. It hears my thoughts. It wants what I want.

The raven, with it bloody body, sits on the statue's shoulder.

It is time. 

My heart begins to race. The faster it beats, the harder the statue's wings thump up and down. It is ready to take off. Just as I am ready to start the beginning of the end.

"Where are they," I ask the raven. "Where are the ones that I am to destroy?"

"There is only that you must fight," Insomnia tells me. "It is a young girl. A child. But, she has an army of her own. One that we will protect you from. But, you and only you, must fight this girl. This child. For she is the one that can bind together what we have fought so hard to destroy."

"A girl? A child? I don't understand."

Behind me the demons of my mind begin to get restless. They are ready to fight. To tear the souls out of those that dare oppose us. I can feel the tension coming off of their dark bodies as they begin to break rank. The growls and snorts of these beasts break through to me.

"Silence!" I command them. They all stop and look to me. Even the beast to my right takes heed. "You will stand at attention. You will wait for my command. Do you understand?"

Not a sound comes from the creatures. All remain at attention. All, but one. The beast, with its red eyes and sharp teeth, looks at me. And then he sneers.

It is a challenge. And I have accepted it.

I raising my hockey stick. The only weapon that I have to fight any beast or person that rises against me. I raise it and bring it down against the rebel beast. I feel the heel of the stick slice through the the thick skin of the demon. It is a clean slice. As I break through, it looks at me. Startled. And then falls into two pieces. Black blood mixed with red ash oozes everywhere.

That's one bad ass hockey stick.

I look to the rest of my followers. "Anyone else impatient?"

The demons look down and away. No one dares look me in the eye.

Insomnia begins to chuckle. "Atta girl," he whispers. 

I look to the raven for answers. "Where's this child? The girl that you find to be so dangerous? Where is she and what is her army made of?"

You will find her where you are afraid to look. You will find her there, unarmed, waiting. I do not know what follows her. She is pure. Righteous. Powerful. Be ever vigilant. For she will come at you innocent. A creature of love. She will confuse you. She will try to defeat you. 

 She will die.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Dearest Friend: Something Else to Say

My Dearest Friend,

It is warm out today. I only open my latest letter to you this way because I can recall how you loathed the weather here. You used to say that this place, with its indecisive climate, frustrated you. You always spoke of moving somewhere where the seasons were true to their names. Yet, you never did. Instead, you remained close by. You understood more than I did the need I had for you. You were selfless like that.

I have yet to sleep. Morning has crept up on me without the benefit of nighttime seeing me to sleep. You have been on my mind so much. I know why it is. The anniversary of your departure is quickly approaching. I do not know how I am going to mark this occasion. Or if I should let it pass by without acknowledgment. All I do know is that the dull ache that has taken your place is still present. No matter how hard I try, I just can not pray it away.

The calendar tells me it is January. It was around this time last year that you first notified me of that ridiculous doll. The Child's Play doll. That was the object I had craved for so long. I can remember, clearly, that telephone conversation. You were up north where the winters are more determined to be cold and bitter than they are around here. You were there, in a store, and you had found it. Still in its original box. You were so excited. Giddy even. Did I want it, you asked. You already knew the answer. Just like you knew I would ask endless questions before responding. I heard your laughter ring through the phone. I envisioned you throwing your head back as the sweet sound reached my ear. Do you remember what I did with that doll? Of course you do. I forwarded it on to a sweet eight year old boy who seemed to want it more than me. When I told you that, you were so pleased to know that I had put a child's wants before my own. So pleased, in fact, that you never would tell me how much it cost.

It's those little bits of unimportant exchanges that haunt me now. The small conversations that, at the time spoken, really didn't amount to much. Now, they have taken on a life of their own. They have grown so big in importance, that they overshadow the moments that impacted my life the most. While my memory will still call forward the night you held me while I cried, it is the little moments of reassurance that keep coming back. How your laughter would engulf me. It would wrap itself around me, lifting me up, holding me close with its warmth. The looks of confusion when I would start a conversation with you without the benefit of understanding what I was speaking of.

Wes, you would say, Don't you know I can't read your mind? You're completing your thoughts out loud again.

And then you would laugh. And I would tell you that after all this time, you should be able to read my mind.

All this time. But, it wasn't really that long. Three years? Perhaps? Looking back, that period was short. Going through it, however, it seemed to stretch on forever. Time is fickle that way. It can rob you of your  ability to see things the way they really are. Reality is skewed. Altered. Time is nothing more than a bandit. Stealing our focus. Refusing to allow us to see Life for what it truly is.

Life is a playground bully. Beating us up. Taking our prized possessions. Never living up to its promises.

My dearest, sweetest friend. I have this overwhelming need to show affection. To feel my arms around a person. To breathe in their sent while I hear their heart beat. I no longer have that. It is slowly driving sadness deep into the recesses of my mind. Since you have left, I have no one. My smile has become a lie. I cry when I write. My words are hollow. Empty of meaning. Void of sincerity. I blame you for it all. Your sudden departure has been too much for me. I sometimes wonder if I have always been this fragile. Perhaps I am like a glass bulb. Hit at just the right pressure point, I will shatter.

Or, rather, I did shatter.

I must go now. Today, as warm as it promises to be in this month of coldness, sees me to different activities. Traveling here and there. I do not like to venture out much. The bookstore is the only place of solace for me now. The rows of books bring a certain peace to me. For I know, trapped within the binding, their stories will end. The characters' ordeals, their lives, will eventually be wrapped up nicely. Ending at just the right note to satisfy my need for resolution. I need this, you see. I crave this closure the same way my lungs require oxygen.

Yours Always,