My left arm is a contradiction today. I guess it actually represents me more accurately than I’d care for it to. My left hand was holding on to a Bible for some time today. Not opening it… but holding on. I thought about opening it and reading. I thought about what would happen if I did. I considered what I would read. I put the Bible back down on my bed and opted for playing a game of solitaire instead. Feeling a tug, I picked the Bible back up. I looked at the well-worn cover and the places where the gilding rubbed off. I remembered being able to devour the Word no matter what was happening in my life. I remember how I didn’t let a day go by without reading at least something. Then I tried to remember the last time I had opened it. April? March? February? I looked back down at my arm holding my Bible and felt shame for… well… everything, but mostly how I’ve handled my shame. It’s a terrible irony really.
The past several weeks I’ve weeded out a lot of my “vices”. What I didn’t add into the equation, is that taking all those things away from myself would leave me without a coping strategy for crazy stress (that would be sure to come when removing coping strategies). So, I reverted. Oh, how I wish I could say I simply picked a cigarette up. My arm bears witness to my stress – and to me needing to do it on my own – not allowing God in.
I can’t really blame my left arm for what my right did to it though. I also cannot blame my right hand when it was me – all of me that went along with it. My feet could have not walked towards the blade. My eyes could have chosen to not see it. My soul could have screamed “no”.
On Wednesday, my small group had a worship night that I was dreading. I went, begrudgingly. At the end 2 people had words/pictures for me. The first was a view of a car chase from a helicopter. The general idea was that I would be caught in the end. It got me angry. Really, God – chasing me? Please. I haven’t been running away. I’ve been just trying to figure out why He’s abandoned me and hates me. That’s all. The other one makes more sense to me. It was a voice saying “forward” in an escalating voice. At the time, that spoke more to me. Partly, I’m sure, because I have the word tattooed on my arm, partly, because, it was personal without being invading. Now, I think He just wanted to get my attention. The word arrest keeps coming to mind. Not as in to handcuff me (though, one could argue that would be a good thing), but to stop me – with spike strips if necessary. I decided to give it a shot today. I went up for communion. I sat back down in my seat holding the cup and wafer looking down, feeling so very far from the One who created me. Feeling shame and hurt as I saw my arm. I wanted to leave them there and not eat or drink, but I figured that I came that far… what’s one more step. So I took communion. I didn’t have any major words to say to God other than “I’m trying to slow down.” Then Steve read Psalm 13 and it arrested me. For a moment I thought it was something that I has written. Verse 2 was all I thought of during the sermon (in fact, that’s all I remember from it). I’m sure David wasn’t struggling with my stuff… but I know he went through heavy times too (being chased and hunted down by his mentor, knocking up a chick and killing her husband, etc). So, if he can wind up coming out on the other side praising God… then… I guess I can too. I’m still not down with this “Father” business, but… I’m going to try. I’m going to try to stand still for a bit, to actually listen to Him instead of yelling and screaming at Him. I’m going to try to bow my head instead of giving Him the finger (things haven’t been pretty lately). I’m going to look forward instead of living in the shame of my past. I’m going to open my Bible and read Psalm 13 and Psalm 139. Maybe, just maybe I’ll begin to heal.