Monday, December 31, 2012

What Do I Bring to the Table

What do you bring to this relationship?
Prior to tonight, I thought it was most important to be up front about one's weaknesses in entering a relationship. Mainly because I thought it was prideful and arrogant to highlight only the strengths one has. Is not that the warning given to those who are dating: Be careful, because he is going to be on his best behavior while dating, but once he has a ring on your finger, he will drop the sweet talk and become a bum.
But tonight changed my mind.
Tonight, I realized that I need to know the strengths that are being brought to the table. Because if I only see the weaknesses, then depression and hopelessness are soon to follow.
So this is my new philosophy: Bring your strengths to the table--be aware of what they are, show them off even--but also present your weakness--don't deny them or try to hide them.
If I see the strengths, it is easier for me to give grace with the weaknesses.
(Now, please don't misinterpret me--if one has weaknesses, he deserves grace regardless of his strengths. But grace for a fellow human being is much different than grace for a man that I am considering submitting myself under in the covenant of marriage.)
Okay, enough philosophizing...onto the main point:
What do I bring to the relationship table? (Be prepared for jumbled randomness!)
  • a love of harmonizing
  • an obsession with languages that is only a few phrases deep. Be prepared to hear random words in a variety of languages.
  • the remnants of an eating disorder. This includes useless (and useful) nutrition knowledge that I often distort, a ruined body image, a propensity to sneak starches when I am depressed, and a nutritionist named Bruce.
  • a voice inside my head that always condemns or claims that I am not enough--that I must do more, more, more
  • a intellect that loves to be exercised
  • three and a half years of therapy--be prepared to hear psychological language abound
  • a spirituality that had its origin and most of its existence in my head--it is now is my heart as well, but struggles to distinguish itself from the intellect.
  • an unfamiliar and untamed anger
  • a love of cats
  • a varied residency past: parents', dormitory, apartment, psychiatric hospital, eating disorder support house, grandparents', Indonesian home
  • free-flowing tear ducts
  • a sin-habit of trying to take on God's responsibilities
  • a crazy, messed up family....but who doesn't have one of those?
  • a weird obsession with chickens
  • a fear of spending money
  • a strong (and sinful) desire to know my precise future
  • a headstrong, prideful, stubborn self
  • a young faith (just over two years)
  • an addiction to getting a 4.0
  • a fear of children (although I do work with them...figure that one out!)
  • a love of writing
  • a desire to be considered an "artist"
  • an introverted self
  • a hole (read "Introduction: My Black Hole" in order to understand this)
  • a love of books--especially literature
  • a dark childhood (sexual abuse)
  • forgiveness withheld (a source of darkness, which God is in the process of working out of me)
  • a fear of making decisions
  • father issues
  • a listening ear
  • a fear of using my voice (and my words)
  • a fear of the phone (please text me! haha)
  • an understanding of addictions
  • a desire to see others freed. (Now only if I could desire that without trying to play God and, furthermore, desire it for myself.)
  • a love of ideas, imaginations, inceptions : )
  • a love of words--the English language (even the Americanized version of it) is beautiful, despite what others say, I think we have just forgotten much of it (myself included). 
  • a love of fire, water, and heights
  • a love of chocolate (yes, I am officially a woman)
  • a fear of entering deep, meaningful relationships, especially with other females. 
  • a fear--but also a longing--for transparencey
Okay.....I guess that is enough for now.
I did not separate "good" from "bad", "strength" from "weakness" on purpose. Not only do I think people's perception of what is a strength and what is a weakness will be different, but I also think that some aspects can be a strength and a weakness. Furthermore, my opinion is not as important as the opinion of the one with whom I am in relationship with.
So.....What do you bring to the table?
When combined with my attributes, do we make a colorful banquet with a delightful (or at least tolerable) balance of sweet and sour, strength and weakness? That is something for the two of us to determine in the presence of our Creator.
(If you are reading this and you would like to add to my list of attributes things that you see in me that I have missed, feel free to comment here. If you would like to make a list for yourself, you can comment here with that as well!)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jumbled Thoughts on Life, Light, and Longing

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" Galatians 5:1
Barry to me: "But you say, 'I don't want it, Jesus. Take it back!'"
Barry to my friend: "You enjoy your freedom in Christ more than Jaime does; because you just live it. You don't think about it as much."
Barry seems to think "my brain" is my biggest blessing; I think it is also my biggest curse.
So where did Barry get this from? A conversation he and I had about choosing my future career. As a Christian it would just be nice to focus solely on serving God and his people. There are many ways to do that. But then as part of the world (or at least the world as I know it), I also have to find a way to function in society (ie. make money.......).
I am at a point in my life where I could choose from MANY options as to what path to take. For example, I wanted to be a writer. Or maybe I want to be a counselor; my therapist thinks it would be wonderful if I were to go further and become a psychiatrist ("we have no Christian psychiatrists in the area"), and of course my professor/adviser thinks that would be just a great way to use my brain-power (another man who thinks my brain is a gift from God). Then there is Barry who agrees with me that medical school will cause me to listen once more to the you-must-be-the-best-and-the-first-at-all-costs-even-if-you-have-to-kill-yourself-in-the-process voice inside my head; furthermore, he is not sure that I can emotionally handle the darkness that I will encounter in counseling others (I think he has seen too much darkness in his days ministering to others--I suppose he is just trying to protect me). So instead, Barry suggests that I be a theologian and teach theology--oh and then I should get my Ph'D in....something. (Another use of my brain and my attraction to ideas--those intangible, infectious things that rule the inner worlds of people.)
So many options!!
Another comment of Barry's (Oh, Barry is my grandfather, by the way): "So it sounds like God has not given you a calling."
My response: "Right. Thanks, God. You're just going to leave me here to suffer in the unknown for the rest of my life. Thanks a lot!"
This is what prompted Barry's idea that I would rather have less freedom in my life. Which I have known for a while is true. I know life would be easier if I did not have free will. But see, free will is what makes me human. It is part of God's own image in me.
Furthermore, Barry tied this into my discussion of Light and Darkness. I know that I have both Light and Darkness within me. But I feel as if I just let the Darkness of other or of the world clobber me over--and I am defeated by it. So I told God that I want more Light in me. And when I shared that with Barry, he said again that I wanted less freedom. For the experience of Darkness is rooted in our free will.
I realize that it is my lot to be in the battle ground of Light verses Dark. But I either, want to be rid of the battle that I am feeling defeated by because I can't see it. Or I want to be an active warrior in it. But to be a warrior, God must remove the veil from my eyes. Is that possible?? Would God ever allow me to see the war that is occurring (Rev. 12:7)? It seems as if I want two opposing things. Hmmmm. I guess I would prefer to see the battle. My heart wants it. I was made for this. I know it!!! What frustrates me is getting opressed by darkness that I can't even see. How do I fight something that I cannot see?
God: Jaime, Jaime.... Keep reading My Word through Paul: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Eph 6:10-18) I have given you instructions on how to fight what you do not see. Let me try to be even more specific with you...."Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." (1 John 2:8-10)
I understand where God is going with this....My lack of forgiveness of my brother is cultivating darkness within my soul. I know what I have to do--I want to speak with my brother face-to-face. But, O LORD, I am terrified. Please be my strength and my shield.
This is my current postition in battle. This is the stand I am being asked to take. Stick to your post, Jaime.
But, God, that doesn't give me any answer about what to do with my life.
Be patient, Jaime.
God, can I just ask this one thing?
Go ahead.
Can I have eyes to see and ears to hear?
I have already given you those, Jaime.
But I want more!
Be patient, Jaime.
(Sigh) I'm not good at being patient.
I know...that is the point.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Light in the Darkness

Genesis 1:1-5
'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.'

Isaiah 9:1-2
'Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan— 
 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.'

Isaiah 14:12-15
'How you have fallen from heaven,
    O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations! 
You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the grave,
    to the depths of the pit. '

John 1:1-14
'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.'

Luke 23:44-45a
'It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun had stopped shining.'

1 John 1:5-7
'This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.'

Revelation 1:12-16
'I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.'  

Revelation 8:12
'The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.'

Revelation 12:1-9
'A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.'

Revelation 21:10-11, 22-27
 'And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. . . . 
'I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.'

Friday, December 21, 2012

Learning to be Weak

A few weeks ago in Living Waters, I renounced a vow I had made when I was a child. The vow: I will never be weak.
Here I am. It's 8:30 on a Friday night. And I have just screwed up once again.
I'm sitting here asking myself: Why? (I seem to ask myself that quite a bit. Maybe I should ask God--I think I will get more answers that way.)
Why? Prior to slipping into the deadly spiral, I had spent a good 45 minutes talking to someone about it. How I wanted to stop. How I am hurting other people when I sin. (It is impossible to commit a personal, isolated, victimless sin--any sin in the body of Christ will negatively impact the other body parts.)
I messed up...AGAIN.
And what do I want to do? Fix it myself  before the damage goes too far.
What does that mean for me? Hide it. Don't tell anyone. Clean up the empty dishes. Go for a run or to the gym. Eat less the next day. And make yet another empty promise to myself not to do it again.
I'm not really fixing anything, am I?
Here I am. It's now 8:33 on a Friday night. I have just screwed up once again. And there is nothing I can do to fix it.
The damage has been done.
I am powerless.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. . . . I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." Romans 7:15, 19, 23
I feel completely powerless to overcome my addictive patterns. But is this "feeling" really telling me the truth? (Feelings are real--don't get me wrong--but they are not always informing me of truth. For example, I feel a true fear of a big, hairy spider that is about 8 feet away from me, minding its own business. Is that spider going to eat me alive? No--not unless we are staging a horror movie that has gone horribly wrong.)
So I feel powerless. But am I truly without power?
See, I know better than my feelings. For I know that I have Christ in me--and He is the ultimate victor. So how can I be completely powerless?
Doctors Cloud and Townsend, in their book, Boundaries, outline the type of power I have in Christ:
  1. I have the power to agree with the truth about my problems.
  2. I have the power to submit my inability to God.
  3. I have the power to search and ask God and others to reveal more and more about what is within my boundaries.
  4. I have the power to turn from the evil that I find within me.
  5. I have the power to humble myself and ask God and others to help me with my developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs.
  6. I have the power to seek out those that I have injured and make amends.
 So I have power...but its a paradoxical power. Let me break down 2 Corinthians 12:7-10...
"To keep me from becoming conceited
  •  Pride is one of my biggest sin areas--as I believe it is with all of us.
"because of these surpassingly great revelations,
  • before you disqualify yourself on the grounds that you have not been given such "great revelations" please do not forget that we have been given the Word of God and then the Word of God in flesh--Jesus Christ. You have been given a surpassingly great revelation.
"there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
  • I realize there is much debate about what Paul's thorn was. But I am going to ignore that for now, and try to apply this to my situation. My thorn in my flesh is an addiction to sin (specifically an addiction to food and my body). The words "thorn", "flesh", "Satan", and "torment" make an addiction to sin a pretty good general description of what Paul might have been talking about.
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
  • wrestling with God (Jacob with the Angel of the LORD...)
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'
  • Christ's strength is displayed most clearly when I am weak. Therefore I must depend upon His grace that allows me to be weak.
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
  • Okay, honestly, I am not at this point yet. I renounced that vow I made as a child, but I still don't like being weak. It is not something I am ready to boast in. However, as I realize that, I realize also that it means I do not boast in Christ's strength either. (Ouch! Forgive me, Lord!)
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
  • This is really where I am in the learning process: "For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Here I am. It's 9:12 on a Friday night. I have screwed up, and there is nothing I can do to fix it. I am powerless to fix my mess. I am weak in my sinful self.
But I have Christ in me. He is strong. He says to me: "My grace is sufficient for you."
"My grace is sufficient for you, Jaime."
I don't understand. I am a mess. You don't want to see me all dirty and gross looking.
"My grace is sufficient. I will clean you up. Will you accept my offer of grace?"
There must be a catch. Surely you must want me to clean myself up.
"I want you to admit that you are dirty. . . and that you are incapable of cleaning yourself up."
"My grace is sufficient, Jaime. Will you accept it?"
(Sigh) Yes. . . I haven't done such a good job at cleaning myself up on my own anyway.
"Good. Now let my power seep through you."
And what power is that?
"The power to turn from evil."
But I keep failing at that!!
"Because you are trying to do it on your own strength. Which, by the way, you don't really have! Remember, you just admitted that you are incapable of cleaning yourself up. Well, you are also incapable of keeping yourself clean. That is what my imparted power can enable you to do."
"Remember, Jaime. This is not a one time thing. Tomorrow you will be tempted to keep yourself clean in and of your own strength. And if you choose to do so, you will fail. And you will also be tempted to try to clean yourself up on your own. If you choose to try to do so, you will fail. You must choose to be weak daily, Jaime. If you fail, I will take you back and clean you. But it is a painful process to continually fail."
I know--I feel the pain, the shame, the despair.
"But you don't have to."
Jesus, I don't know if I can do it!
Because I've been trying to do this on my own for so long!
"And look where it has gotten you!! Pain. Dysfunction. Uncontrollable anger. Fear. Is it worth it, Jaime?"
"Then maybe it is time to try something new."
"I am not expecting you to be perfect, Jaime. As I said before, I will clean you up. But that does not take the responsibility away from you. You must choose to depend upon Me. Can you do that?"
I don't know...
"JAIME! You must make a choice. Will you choose Me?"
(no response)
"Jaime, you must let go of yourself. I can read your mind. I know you are still planning to try to fix yourself tomorrow. I cannot be fooled."
I'm scared.
"I know you are. Look, you can go to the gym, and you can be mindful of what you eat. But you must leave the fixing up to Me. You cannot erase your past--not the sin you've committed, nor the sin committed against you. You must allow Me to fix you, Jaime, if you ever want to be healed. Let Me take care of that."
"You can take My hand...and you can squeeze it as hard as you want. I'm not going anywhere....That's it....Now release your other hand. Let go of the branch of "personal strength" that you've been holding onto....That's My girl.....Now let's go get you cleaned up."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rated R

I don't know how much you know about eating disorders... Let me give you three common terms: restrict (or "deny all"), binge (or "stuff it down"), and purge (or "get rid of it all, fast").
I began Living Waters because I knew that I had to deal with the sexual abuse I endured as a child. I also had a hunch that my problems with food had at least some roots in that painful past.
Theresa's words haunt me: "That's gotta come up and out." She has said it twice now--the only two times I have even mentioned the abuse during prayer. Yet every time she says those words I back down. How does something like that come up and out? Fear paralyzes me, and I go no further. I don't know how to live with that "up and out". And so I stuff it back down.
I wonder if Theresa realizes how much "up and out" sounds like purging to my ears. Thank God, I have never successfully purged. I've half-attempted to purge, but I've never carried through. But "deny all" and "stuff it down"--I am much more familiar with.
If it hadn't been for the diagnosis of anorexia, I would never have broached the topic of my childhood. I would have gone on denying-all for the rest of my life.
I find it interesting that the same morning I decided to stop restricting (Thursday, November 26, 2010), was the same day that, deep-down inside of myself, I knew I had to deal with the abuse. I had been denying it for so long, and it was slowly killing me.
But alas, this was also the same morning that binge eating entered my experience. What the heck?! I became a binge-eater with an anorexic brain (no wonder my body image has not yet recovered). So, I no longer "deny all," and yet I shift to "stuff it down." Again, How do I attempt to get rid of something that has become part of my identity?
I did tell my therapist that I wanted to deal with my past...but I didn't much pursue it past that. And now I am in Living Waters--and adventure I began October 2, 2012--almost two years later. And I am still stuffing it down.
Theresa's words: "That's gotta come up and out." She tugs on a string attached to something in my stomach. (The actual image I have is of a boneless chicken wing--spicy buffalo flavored, of course--attached to a string, and Theresa, or perhaps God, is pulling at it.) I feel like she is asking me to purge.
Shouldn't this be a blessing to an anorexic minded girl who has been binging?? Well there are two sides of the coin. Yes, it is then out of my system. But then you will have just seen what went in--and shame will over take me.
Let's think scientifically... throwing up is actually a protective reflex. Something foreign or threatening to the body is expelled before it does too much damage.
When asked to identify where I carry my shame, I identified my stomach (I have not figured out why yet). But if I am ashamed of sexual sin AGAINST my own body, then that is false guilt--it is foreign and threatening, and it must come out.
Theresa's words: "That's gotta come up and out." She tugs at the string. My gag reflex goes. But I stuff it down quick. And I stuff it with food.
Tonight I felt it. It felt true. Let it "come up and out", and I will no longer desire to binge. I will no longer need to stuff it all down.
But WHY??? Why, if I know the other side will be peaceful and well, do I still sit here and resist my gag reflex?
It's shame. I don't want people to see me puke. And I certainly don't want them to see that boneless chicken wing--or all the other food I piled on top of it.
It's fear. I've had that chicken wing in me so long. It's part of me...What will I feel like without it? Won't I feel empty?
I asked a friend of mine the other day: "What is preventing you from being that better person?" He responded with an "I don't know." But I know the answer: it is himself.
This time the tables are turned. Jesus asks me: "What is preventing you from being healed and whole?" I can't pretend not to know any more; the answer is me. I know what I have to do; and yet I stand at the edge without actually doing it.
I KNOW WHAT I HAVE TO DO. Jaime, just do it already! I have to let him do the purging. I have to let go and endure the fear and the shame.
Puking hurts. And it's pretty gross. But as long as I am responding to a natural, God-given reflex, I am going to feel a whole lot better afterward. And what has been killing me will finally be expelled from my body.
Jesus' words: "That's gotta come up and out." He tugs at the string. My gag reflex goes.....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where the Rebellion Went Too Far

 Where I first fell in love with unreality. I believe I was sitting in my room—back against my closet—toes digging into my rug—book in hand. My eyes feasted on the unreality hidden among those pages. It was a fantasy world all my own. A dark yet starry night. Mountains and valleys. A waterfall crashing to the depths below. Look closely; see those blinking lights? They are no fire-flies—they are tiny fairies. Luminous creatures, sparkling in the night. The most majestic is the unicorn. You can see her standing guard over her young filly. Gleaming white mane; and her horn—elegantly rising from her forehead. Purity. Beauty. Magic. Just one glimpse of her takes my breath away. I sit down on the grass and close my eyes. I hear the mumblings of little brownies as they head off to work. The screech of an owl—or perhaps it is the phoenix preparing for a nights rest. The air is warm and smells of fresh life. (November 4, 2010)

            But see unreality and fantasy can become dangerous. Do you ever think about fantasy worlds? I do—a lot. Because I realize that I escape from reality more often than I would like to admit.
            Maybe you should think about fantasy worlds more often—because I’m willing to guess that you have been in one before.
            Perhaps some examples will help you see more clearly. . .
In a fantasy world you can eat an entire carton of ice cream late at night and no one will notice.
In a fantasy world your husband never lusts after other women.
In a fantasy world friends never hurt friends.
In a fantasy world there is no such thing as abuse.
In a fantasy world your wife is always delighted to cook dinner for you.
In a fantasy world all Christians live by Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
In a fantasy world the books of Ecclesiastes and Lamentations are not part of the Bible.
In a fantasy world sin can be justified.
In a fantasy world God does not harden people’s hearts.
In a fantasy world God works everything out for your personal “good.”
In a fantasy world darkness is safer than the light.
In a fantasy world you’ve never gossiped about that “Isn’t she the pregnant one?” over there.
In a fantasy world love takes away all problems.
In a fantasy world your daughter will never be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
In a fantasy world your son will never be charged with murder.
In a fantasy world you can experience perfection of your own doing.
In a fantasy world no one loves his or her own sin.
In a fantasy world you can keep the disgusting side of yourself a secret.
In a fantasy world “just one drink won’t hurt.”
In a fantasy world you can disassociate from yourself.
In a fantasy world spiritual warfare doesn’t take place in the room with you.
In a fantasy world your sin will never find you out.
In a fantasy world everyone knows what grace and forgiveness are.
In a fantasy world underweight is beautiful.
In a fantasy world knowledge equals wisdom.
In a fantasy world you can earn your way back to God.
In a fantasy world your parents never fail you.
In a fantasy world people always forgive you.
            So what do you think? Real life is hard. Real life is not pretty. Real life is Jesus of Nazareth being cursed to hang on a tree. But real life is Jesus Christ—our Messiah—dying for our sins, and then three days later defeating sin and death.
            Yes, we will suffer in this world—we are suffering NOW—but our hope is in the redemption of our Messiah.
To be sure, reality does not look as beautiful as this picture—but please listen to this:
Reality is worth living; live it in HOPE.
May 5, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ephesians 4:32

I thought we had friendship
a mutual love.
But now you shout, “Betrayal!”
and that you feel too much pain.
You act as if forgiveness
is too hard; that there will be no healing.

What about healing
within me? Does not friendship
see through one another’s eyes? Forgiveness
is the path of love.
Can you not see my pain?
And how I too sense betrayal?

I do not say, “Deny the betrayal,”
but why resist healing?
Is it the fear of feeling pain?
I appeal to our friendship
and the love
we once had. My hope is forgiveness—

for the type of forgiveness
that Christ gave after his own betrayal.
Can you imagine his capacity for love?
He can bring healing
for the two of us, restoration of friendship,
and slow removal of the pain.

I tell you, “Feel the pain,”
for it is real. But forgiveness
is possible in the grace of friendship.
Acknowledge the betrayal
if you must, but then pursue healing
through the power of love.

I beg you to hear this, “I love
you.” Forgive me for the pain
I’ve caused. May God bring healing.
I beg for your forgiveness
of my betrayal,
and make one last plea for our friendship.

There is healing in the love
of Christ. Friendship will always incur pain—
it is a hard reality that demands forgiveness of betrayal.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Introduction: My Black Hole

This is a piece that I originally wrote in order to introduce myself to my writing workshop class. I have since then revised it. There are a few of you who have probably heard me read it dramatically, too. (Sorry for the length, I thought I should keep this one intact so that you can get a complete picture of me before I continue writing.)

You want me to introduce myself?! Sigh. Welcome to the black hole that is Jaime. Let me draw the picture--

I was a black hole--we all are at some point in our lives. And what does the worldly individual do with his black hole? Draws on the walls. So that--even though he can't see within the hole--he at least knows the contents--because--well--he put them there himself.

Let me pause here: Was I a worldly individual? Not on the outside: I went to Sunday service, I obeyed my parents, I went to Bible camp. In fact, I had asked Jesus into my heart at the extremely knowledgeable age of six. But, looking back now, He didn't have control of my life. Oh no! Despite my external piety, I was quite busy sitting within my black hole, drawing on the walls.

Would you like to know what some of my drawings were? Of course you do (or--even if you don't, I'm showing you anyway because--well (shrug)--they were pretty good). The theme of my masterpiece was "PERFECTION." Over here is me as an angel; the perfect daughter to my mother. And over here--oh--now--I know this next piece is difficult to decipher--I'm sure if you dig deep down into those unused parts of your brain--you will be able to make out a girl who is wife, mother, therapist, and manager all at once: the perfect daughter to a father. And here are my sister paintings: "Perfect Sister Part I and Part II." Ah--this one is my personal favorite--I call it--pause--"Transcendence." As you can see, that is me, graduating at the top of my class, setting the school record, which--I might add--has still not been broken. Sigh--I used to stare at that one for hours. Oops--I almost forgot this small one over here: the perfect Christian girl who never really sinned (relatively speaking).

Yup--gazing over artwork--It was a great black hole. I mean--how could it get any better? It was perfect; I was perfect.

I had become so certain of my perfection, that one day, I decided to let Jesus in to see my drawings. Quite frankly, I thought He would approve of my work. Surely, He would be proud of me.

But something horrible happened! Jesus entered, and light flashed from his presence. My walls were suddenly bare! Blank! Blank! Blank! Blank! (Spinning) Nothing! My screams pierced the air: "No! No!" I began to push Jesus away: "Get out!" I pushed Him out of my hole, and locked myself within. Alone. Plunged into my self-willed darkness.

I tried to draw on my walls again, but for some reason the pictures would not form properly--they were only scribbles.

Eventually, the darkness became too much. And I thought: Maybe, just maybe, I should ask Jesus to come back.

As soon as He entered, light burst forth from Him again. I squeezed my eyes shut.

"Look," He whispered. I opened my eyes and gasped. There, on the walls, were elaborate drawings--much more beautiful than I had ever made--or even imagined. Jesus squeezed my hand as he spoke, "I call this _____________."

Monday, April 9, 2012

A New Beginning

Thanks to the recommendation of a dear friend (you know who you are!), I am going to pick up my blog once again. Only this time around I will not be focused on food. Instead I will focus on freedom. My hope is to experiment with some creative writing. So keep an eye out for some pieces. Thanks.