Posts Tagged With: love

Unrequited


There are days I hope you have your back to me, so you don’t notice when I forget not to stare.

There are days I hope you notice.

If he didn’t know by now, he would never know, she told herself firmly. He just… didn’t think of her that way. And she was okay with that, she had to be. She would rather live in a world where he was oblivious than a world where they never talked.

She forced herself to ignore the pang that sent through her.

Romance novels made it seem so easy… there was an instant connection, and an equal attraction; love just… happened.

What do you do when it only happens on one side, though?

She was far too sensible to be a tragic heroine; suicide held little appeal, and was a bit too melodramatic, anyway. On the other hand… she wasn’t quite sensible enough to let him go. No matter how much she tried to squelch the desire for something more than friendship, it just… lingered, popping up at horribly inopportune moments.

Some days I’m doing life, and I am just fine, and then you smile, and I turn to mush inside. I didn’t realize what it meant to have your stomach turn inside out before.

Some days you say the most horrible things, and even when they burn through me, I still love you.

He often turned up at her job, which was horribly unkind of him. Hair flying, wild-eyed, he made it difficult to get work done both as an obstruction and a distraction.

She loved him for it.

Some days I haven’t heard from you in ages, and you just turn up and continue a conversation like I should remember what we were talking about all that time ago.

She would be whatever he needed, even when nothing came of it, when she was alone with her cats in her flat and old and grey.

She could bear it, for him.

There are days that I pretend not to know what you’re talking about, you know. So that you can explain it to me. I’m more intelligent than you think.

I just know how much you love explaining.

She could bear anything, for him.

Even giving him up.

~~~~~~~

Inspired by the relationship between Molly Hooper and Sherlock Holmes, on the BBC show Sherlock.

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Categories: The story | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From Tower to Garden


From the Tower–1

There is a man who works in the garden. I can see him from my window. He is obviously good at gardening; the roses have been flourishing this year.

I wonder if he’s happy.

From the Garden–1

There is a girl who sits in the window of the tower. She’s pretty; she looks peaceful. Sometimes she reads a book.

I wonder what her life is like, up there. I wonder what she does. Whatever it is, she looks happy.

I’m glad.

From the Tower–2

He sings to the flowers sometimes. I don’t think he knows I can hear him. I catch bits of the songs–about the rain, about coming home, about life. About women.

I wonder, is he in love? I should like to be in love. He seems very happy.

I wonder if he even knows I exist. It seems wrong, at times, for me to just watch him without his permission, to listen to his songs.

I can’t help but wonder, though: what is life like for him, outside the tower? Is he free? Does he have a family? Does he have his own garden at home?

So many questions. I wish I could ask him.

From the Garden–2

She was watching me. She was definitely watching me.

It’s odd–for some reason, I had thought I was invisible. Maybe I have been singing too loud. I should quiet down.

From the Tower–3

He stopped singing.

The world seems a little bit greyer.

From the Garden–3

She’s stopped sitting in the window. Is she okay? Did something happen?

The roses seem to have lost some of their color. Maybe I should sing to them again.

I hope she’s okay.

From the Tower–4

He started singing again!!!!!!

From the Garden–4

She came back! I am glad. The roses are doing better, too.

This was a good day.

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In the Airport


Written Three Months Ago. . . . . 

Have you ever sat in an airport for two hours? Airports are simultaneously the most boring and busiest places in the world. You run and run to find where you are supposed to be, then you sit and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Most people pull out a book, or electronics, or eat something. I(surreptitiously) (or so I think) watch people, wondering who they are, what their story is. The airport has a way of making me feel charitable towards others. That grouchy lady at the ticket counter probably is having a bad day. I should smile and be extra patient. That young mother has a two-year-old son and an infant. The boy and I engage in a funny-face war. That elderly woman pushed by me and took the last window seat–maybe she gets sick in planes and needs it.

I am not typically this nice. In fact, my airport experiences make me ashamed of my usual selfishness. The difference between my normal life and how I act in airports, though, is due to one thing alone. In the airport, when I watch people, I see them as people. I see them as individual human beings, made in the image of God. I see the toddler as a little human, who will one day grow up to be a student or a fireman or a father, rather than a fussy nuisance whose complaints exasperate my mild headache. I see the lady at the ticket counter as a lady, perhaps a mother, and know that it is entirely probable that I would probably be grouchy in her situation, too. I see the older woman as an elder, one worthy of my respect and care, and feel honored to sit by her rather than irritated that she got the window seat.

As I sit here in the Chicago Midway airport, I am convicted of my sin in this regard. I ought to see people as the beautiful, image-bearing-yet-fallen creatures they are all the time–not just in airports.

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Cast Out Fear


“Hey guys, thanks for coming down tonight…”

I take my seat quietly, between two friends. Sunday night worship is a time of reflection for me. Tonight, I reflect on the oddity of my comfort in this place.

During the day, I customarily avoid this room. I am claustrophobic, and in the thrice-weekly chapel meetings here, it is a struggle to not feel that the roof is closing down upon me and may fall at any second. When I must be here, I sit towards the back, close to the windows–close to openness, freedom, safety. Yet, of my own free will, every Sunday night, I come back and sit towards the middle, close to the leaders. The roof still looms threateningly. I close my eyes and sing.

It’s dark in here. There is a light on the stage, and a light by the door. The corners are shrouded in deep gloom. I once thought one of my gloves was a mouse because I could not make out more than a shadow. I fear the dark intensely; I never quite got over my childhood terror. Alone, at night, I am often frozen in fear. I sleep with my back to the wall. Yet here I am, in the dark, and fear does not grip my heart. I can sing. I can pray. I can love.

There are people here. I rarely share myself and my emotions–I have been hurt too often to trust easily. But here, I cry, openly and unashamedly. I do not hide.

Against all logic, I feel safe here. And for that, I am grateful.

“Perfect love casts out fear.” And my fear is cast out.

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Come Thou Fount (Worship 2)


Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
–Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Back home, I attend a church that leans towards the hymn-singing end of the spectrum. We use a hymnal, and our services are usually at least half out of that. I truly love and am familiar with hymns.

One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount. It is deep theologically, well put together musically, and thoughtful. I have heard several renditions of it–updated musically, classical hymn-style, ornately harmonized, instrumental. This gladdens me. It gives me hope that my generation will not lose its theological heritage.

In our hymnal, though, there is an update that concerns me. The second verse usually reads:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

There’s a bit of complicated language there. Interposed. Hither. Ebenezer. It takes some work to understand.

In our hymnal, it reads a bit differently:

Hither to thy love has blessed me
Thou has brought me to this place
And I know thy hand will bring me
Safely home by thy good grace
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Bought me with His precious blood.

I am not even going to talk about how the meaning of this verse has been subtly warped; though I truly love hymns, they are NOT scripture, even if they are based on it. Sometimes meaning needs to be changed. Sometimes, time and wisdom will show that a hymn is not sound. I do not believe that is the case here, and I do not think the changes have improved the meaning of the hymn, but that is not the point.

Why were the words changed in the first place?

They were changed to make it easier. So that those singing the song did not have to learn or think. When in the history of the church has Ebenezer been in the vernacular? If you study your Bible, you find that it is from I Samuel 7, where Samuel raises a stone to remind Israel that, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.”

That took me a minute total. I had to pop over to my online concordance and look up the exact reference, then type it all out. A minute to better understand our heritage. What does it say about us that we can’t even give a minute to learning what those who have gone before us thought was important enough to put to music and sing corporately? What does it say that our leaders pander to this?

Worship is by believers for God. What does it say that what we are giving him is even less than the barest minimum that we would give to an easy community college course?

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Worship


Worship is an act of service.

It is a hard act of service. It takes work.

Worship is not easy. Musical worship is not easy. That thing we have in churches called the ‘worship service’ should not be easy.

Tonight, I worshiped God with my fellow believers. Accompanied by guitar and drum, and occasionally piano, we poured out our hearts to God and received His words humbly.

True worship is hard.

When you worship God, you have to be honest. You cannot cling to your little lies that make you see yourself as not all that bad. You have to let Him show you yourself, flaws and all. You have to be ready to be confronted by terrible honesty in the darkness of your heart. You have to be able to fall to your knees and wish that the ground would swallow you whole, because the little package of pleasing lies you have made yourself cannot stand in the light of Truth. Worship is honest.

When you worship God, you have to be humble. Honesty destroys pride, because once you see who you really are, there is nothing there to be proud of. You may lay your hands on your sisters and begin praying smug little prayers– “Oh God, thank you for making me the type of person who prays for people” –but the moment you cast about for what to pray over them, you are struck with your own pride and insufficiency. You may end up praying, “Lord, forgive me. I am a wretch. Make me a better friend to these women than I am.” Worship is humble.

When you worship God, it is a battle. Sometimes you have to sing the songs in defiance. Sometimes you have to pray the prayers against yourself. Worship is not often sweet or trite. It is hard, and grueling, and draining. Losing your mask is painful. When you surrender to His perfect will, you still have to rebel against your own–against the siren song of the things you want, rather than the things you need. Worship is a battle.

Worship is life. Living is our act of worship. If we cannot even pour ourselves into the one hour a week, how then are we to pour out our lives as an offering to God?

Maybe we are looking at things the wrong way. Maybe it’s time for a new song.

Maybe it’s time for us to stop choosing worship based on our preferences, and start choosing to worship whatever the circumstances.

This is the first in a short series on worship. I was originally going to jump right in to examining philosophy and theology, but then I went and worshiped God corporately. This post changed to reflect that.

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This Is a Hard Teaching


“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17

Do you love your neighbor?

Not in the abstract sense. Look out your door, and across the way, or right next to you. The person who lives closest to you.

Your roommate. The unbelievably annoying one, who comes in at all hours and leaves trash lying around, who smells a little tipsy sometimes. Who hates you.

Or next door. The guy who is subtly–or not-so-subtly–judging your lawn and your house, and you, all of which have been found wanting. Even though he pays someone to do his lawn, and is probably rich, and has no idea who you are. That guy.

The woman next to you in church. She’s sleazy. You can smell the stench of her perfume. It gags you. In your head, the verse floats before your mind: “Not the braiding of hair, or the putting on of jewelry, but a gentle and quiet spirit…” She leans over and whispers to you during the sermon, with a sort of conspirator’s air that makes you ill. That woman.

The workers at the construction site. The ones who can barely speak English. You’re sure that they are not here legally. Those men.

Do you love your neighbor?

Not in the nebulous, affection way. Not in the, “I’m supposed to love him, so I do, but I definitely don’t like him” way.

With the hard, cold, burning charity that wants the best for the beloved–in everything. The love that lays down its life–not once, but every day. The selfless, clean, pure, love that strips away pretence and strikes us at the core. The love that every opportunity chooses the beloved’s good first. The love of God, who is a consuming fire.

The kind of love that terrifies us.

Do you love your neighbor?

You may have thought of at least one person whom you love like that. Maybe two. A close friend. A child. A spouse.

And even that really isn’t enough. It’s only a pale reflection of the real thing.

But your neighbor?

The Law commanded us to love our neighbor. We often are able to fool ourselves into thinking that we do.

But Jesus commanded us to love our enemy.

So, I ask:

Do you love your enemy?

Those who beat you, bruised you, humiliated you?

The friend who stabbed you in the back?

The man who crushed you, just because he could?

The woman who assassinated your reputation?

The men who attacked your country, destroyed your safety, threw your world into confusion?

The murderers? The thieves? The destroyers of beauty and innocence?

Even as I write, people I consider my enemies come to mind. Each time, I back away, saying, “Yes, but–”

But what?

No one could be a greater traitor than I. We are all enemies of God, condemned, murderers.

Do you love your enemy?

Do you even love your neighbor?

I know I don’t.

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
John 6:60

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Grace sufficient to the day


Have you ever had a morning when you woke up and just knew that there was  no way you could make it through the day?

Those are the days when you learn what grace is.

Grace is the well-timed compliment from someone who probably has no idea that it was the only thing that kept you going that next hour.

Grace is the unexpected comfort food for lunch.

Grace is the nearness of a friend who will tell you, yes, you can make it. You will make it.

Grace is the gentle touch that reminds you that you are a person, that you are valuable.

Grace is the word of God preached to you in such a way that you know it was meant for you specifically.

Grace is that friend, at the end of the day, that just listens to you cry. And reminds you that grief does not endure forever. And that there is light, and hope, and grace. And that mercies are new every morning. And that in spite of everything that seems to contradict the truth, we are living a comedy, not a tragedy.

Grace sustains you.

The thing is, you can’t see that grace at the beginning of the day. God doesn’t hand it all to you in a big chunk as you get out of bed and say, “Use it wisely.” He gives it to you as you need it, moment by moment.

He gives to each day grace sufficient for its needs. And for each day, I will thank Him for the grace given that covers that moment and me.

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Strands of Gold


I sit in my family’s living room, in a comfy armchair. I am surrounded by my family–my father, my mother, my brother, my two sisters.

Dad is reading the Lord of the Rings to us. The words weave in and out of my consciousness as I ponder my home.

My youngest sister’s hair is golden–when you hold the strands up to the light, they glimmer and shine as if they were, in fact, spun from gold. She often smiles and lives exuberantly. She is not always thoughtful or considerate, but she is never malicious. She scatters her gold like flower petals, like rain, letting it fall on all around her. She is like the sunshine, beautiful, light, and airy.

My other sister is different–quiet, deep. She is like a mine. You have to dig deep and make effort to find the gold, but it is there, precious and abundant, for those who take the trouble to look. And there are moments when the light hits her just right and she shines.

My brother is intentional. He gives away his treasure freely and thoughtfully, pondering each gift and each recipient. He delights in orderly beauty. He is like a river, abundant and ever-flowing, but only ever flowing in the river bed.

The tapestry of our family is many-colored and ever-growing, but if you look closely as it grows, you see the strands of gold weaving in and out of our lives. In some places, they shine and reveal themselves, but other times they give a shine to seemingly ordinary events.

My friend put it this way: “Y’all aren’t perfect, but you actively pursue holiness. Together.”

Those strands of gold are our pursuit of holiness. And no, we aren’t perfect, but God is making us better.

And we are learning together.

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The Dark before the Morning


It’s early. I only got about four hours of sleep last night. I had two papers due today, and I had to finish them.

Did you know that there is a hush that falls over the world at five o’clock in the morning? Or rather, the hour before dawn.

They say it’s the darkest hour, but it’s really not. For a few short moments, though, all the world is still, and you are confronted with yourself. There are no sounds; the animals and birds and insects that we can usual trust to distract us are asleep, the nocturnal ones nestling in to rest, the diurnal not yet awake. Those people who are awake, almost in recognition of the hush, lower their voiced to a sanctuary whisper. All is slow, and still, and peaceful, and there is nothing between you and God.

Those are the moments when you are confronted with the darkness of your heart. You feel yourself being weighed, and found wanting, and it leaves you gasping for breath. The silence is dangerous; it grabs you and holds you up to a mirror, and if you do not distract yourself in time, you are undone. In the silence, you cannot hide from the One with whom we have to do.

We humans fear silence. We may claim that we desire it, but our actions reveal our terror. Noise is easy. Sound is easy. It is the moments of silence, though, when the still small voice of God shouts our names.

Adam, where are you?

And we flee. Because there is a holy God who is searching for us, and when He finds us, our world will be unmade.

What have you done?

Child, I love you. Come back to Me.

And we weep, and we groan, because this overwhelming love is almost worse than the punishment we expected. The scars on His hands and feet speak the awful truth that we can never escape this love; it will break us, and it will unmake us, and we will never be the same. But what He breaks, He will mend; we will be remade and restored to an even more glorious state than we fell from.

We flee because it’s too much. But we submit because it is all we need.

Listen to the sacred silence. Let the Lord of the Universe speak through it into your soul. It’s not safe.

But it’s good.

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