Questions I Asked God

Do you have a sense of humor? Do you laugh at idiots in the same way that I do? Do you play tricks on people? Hide their keys? Do you reward people even when they don’t deserve it order to maintain some sense of balance/kindness/mystery that we are not advanced enough to understand? Do you know what kindness is? Do you define it differently than I do? Do you have a CD player? Do you like Coldplay? Do you songs get stuck in your head? Are “blessings” rewards or favors?

Can you feel temperatures? Do you have good days and bad days? Do you play favorites with certain countries, certain times, certain people? Do you ever have to swallow your pride? Do you enjoy being worshiped blindly by millions? Does it piss you off that people interpret you so differently?

Am I special?…Okay. In a good way or a bad way? Do you have a favorite color? Have you ever had sex? Do you ever bite your tongue? Are you any particular race? Is “perfection” purely a human concept? Have you ever had a regret? Are you as imperfect as the beings you supposedly created? Why do people get so pissed when I try to make sense of you? Are you a figment of my imagination, or theirs, or us both? Why aren’t more people nice to me? Is there a secret of the world that I just don’t “get”?

Is “nice” a human concept? Do you live in a palace in the clouds? Do you hang out with naked baby angels? How can someone live for 94 years and leave this world lying in a coffin with an unrecognizable grimace on their face? I feel sick.

Why do dumb people have children? Why do I have a mind that races? Why can I keep so much control? Do you wear tie-dye T-shirts? Are you a hippie with long hair? Is smoking weed a bad thing? Do you do it and not tell anybody? Who do you tell all your problems to?

Do you pray to a God who prays to a God who prays to a God who prays to a God? Do you hate it when people ignore you? Do you ever ask humans for help? Do you write? Do you have good penmanship? Did you choose to be who you are and where you are or have you just been one way for since the beginning of time? What came before you? Did you like, create yourself?

Do you get bored up there? Do you really live so high in the sky? Or do you live below in order to be closer to us? To be closer to me?  Do I piss you off? Do you like me? Do I disappoint you? Is there really a Devil you argue with, or is that just one of those things that humans made up? Like, is the Devil an actual entity/mean red guy or is it just a creative way to articulate the lack of God?

Are you ever gonna set people straight about the Illuminati? Am I smart or stupid for thinking that is is possibly the most ridiculous, false, and malicious conspiracy theories in the world? Are you genuinely offended by curse words? Do “holy religious books” matter to you?

Do you treat people from different cultures the same or do you accommodate each of their separate beliefs? Do you ever wanna take a vacation? Do you think the beach is relaxing? Is it smart to bring a child into this world? Why don’t people wear more condoms?

What takes over a person when they feel rage? What do you think is beautiful? Is it weird that I find the ugliness in my own face if I stare at it too long, or not long enough? Does it mean that deep down inside, I hate myself? Why do I feel so good on stage? Why don’t I have the drive to be a lawyer or an accountant?

Is life really meant to be as miserable as people make it seem? Are relationships really meant to be as miserable as people make them seem? Is romantic love a human concept? Have you ever had your heart broken?

Why can’t I stop saying the word “cunt”? Why can’t I care less about my brother and sister? Why does my mind race even in my dreams? Am I working towards learning something or just suffering for nothing…suffering at the hand of my own intelligence?

Why aren’t I White? Why aren’t I ever Black/Zambian/Caribbean/Caymanian/Canadian enough to claim any one as my own culture? Why am I always so confused about the definition of the word, “honesty”? Why am I so patient sometimes? Why won’t my pen stop moving?

I want…….? I want………? I want, I want, I want………?

I want? I want???

I want…..? I WANT?? Why don’t I know what I want?

I want?

////////////////////////

I want…..not friends or guidance or corrections or therapy or guarantees or answers, but…? I want…..?

Okay. I want.

I exhale.

xo

Bushlette

Little Sister

Little Sister,

I pray to God that
you remain in a
beautiful
peaceful ignorance.

I will take care of you,
I will keep you under
the veil of my adamant protection.

I will carry you where
you need to go.
I will look left and right
before you cross the road,
cross the city,
cross the world.

If you cross too fast,
I will pull the imaginary
umbilical cord
between
your head
and
my heart,

And drag you back
maybe kicking, or screaming,
or crying, or smiling,
but for your own good.

I make myself the
tree – old, wise-
knowing and
with endless branches
of experience
that explode in
different directions.

My hope for you is
that you will be
strongly rooted: my little tree.

Grow beside me,
never leave. Imitate
my branches of success.
This is my gift to you.

But you don’t want this gift.

You say
you cannot grow strong
so close beside me.

You say that you are
dying in the damp dark.
You say I block you
from sunlight.

So instead you choose
to be my leaves.
Surrounding my dark
branches, growing from
their so called magic.

You are all around
inside me.
You receive
your much desired sunlight
from all angles.
You careen in the wind,
but every night
you rest,
on me.

Okay.

Little sister,
you rise
and sway with me
every afternoon, and

as much as this
connection warms me,
as much as I grow stronger
in your
presence,

I know that one day,
you’ll start to change
colour,

Slowly – and maybe even
behind my back.

And everyone sees how gorgeous you are.

People want
to take pieces of you
home

And you let them.

I pray to God that
winter never arrives.

I know that by then you
would have
completely fallen away,
blown away,
floated away.

Not only would I have
been stripped of my
beauty
and purpose
by your chilling departure.

I won’
t
know where
you are.
I won’
t

be able
to pull
you back
to me.
I won’
t be able
to
pro-
pro-
pro-
tect-
you.

If you ever do
come back,
You won’t be
the same.

I beg you not to
allow the elements of the world
to pick
and pull you
away from my dark security.

For if you do
I know
that the
mi
se
ry
will be so great…

that I will pray
for the beautiful,
peaceful ignorance
I
tried
to give
you.

xo
Bushlette

Wicked Little Wisp

Last night I had a dream

that has begun to haunt my day

a visit from a little wisp

with claim that she was here to stay.

The little wretch was cute

in the way small things can be

but the closer that you looked

the clearer you could see

that the little thing was darkness

and her wings were tattered skin

she smelled like burning evil

and her words were full of sin.

She flew around my fingers

and up around my face

saying “get used to me lass

because your life is my place.”

Try as I might to shake her

I couldn’t make myself free

but she flew up to my fighting shoulder

and stung me like a bee.

I slapped her and defied her

as her fluttering wings from hell

tore up the air around me

and rose a stormy spell.

I prayed God get me loose

from this awful little witch,

get her out of my head

and let me dream without a glitch.

Sleep would not return

and so I rising sat

and saw my dogs had gone to town

and pooped all over the mat.

I came downstairs and found

another awesome mess and more

of soap dribbled through a grocery bag

to puddle on the floor.

As I bent to clean the messes

my dog raised his leg again

and honest to goodness it took all of me

to not murder and skin him.

As I wiped and cleaned and corrected

the pain up in my shoulder

throbbed and ached and gave a sense

of muscles getting older.

But then it came to mind

that right in that spot I’d had

a fairy sting the night before

by the wisp that I’d made mad.

The morning rolled on forward

and other matters shown

to be broken, spilled or not quite right

as I plodded on alone.

When finally I bewildered sat

with coffee to a chair

I drew a line upon the day

and made it very clear.

“Little malevolent spirit

my life is not your home

but my day belongs to me

and to my Lord alone.

To save your rotten wings

I suggest you fly away

before he rises with the sun

and burns you into yesterday.”

Flashback I: Truth and the Shell

It has been a hard day of grief and pain. This time he is heeding my request to please stay clear and allow me to do my growing and grieving alone. But oh does it hurt!

“What hurts?” I have asked myself. It is the sucking drain of the disappointment drawing back the wave of joy that flooded over me at the realization that “I have found someone who I can love for the rest of my life!” It is a pain that tells of the stripping bare of the garden that bloomed in my heart, watered by that wave of joy. New leaves and fresh blooms all viciously uprooted in their youth, torn from my bosom. Holes that once held clutching roots and ground that was not so long ago shaded by trees are now dry and cracked and gaping, assaulted by a burning sun of Truth.

Truth that reveals every weakness in blinding, sweltering brightness. Truth that cuts through the beautiful words and whispered dreams passed lips-to-ear by the seaside. Cuts through the mirage of lies and folly-happy belief. Truth that burns away chaff. Leaving grief. Grief that the leafy ferns and tender orchids were not real but a bedtime story that needed to be grown out of. Grief at the loss of the cool, damp earth and fragrance of jasmine under a bright full moon all lost to truth.

Even when you tried you lied. Your lies covered my days with painted colours, a full garden of imaginings. Now all swirled and sucked into the vortex of the drain. If only I had not believed. If only I had not allowed you, time and again, to deceive. Truth tugged at me, peaking through the sky-flung Poinciana branches and so I slipped to the side to a greater comfort, deeper in your fanciful creation each time. Until the midday of my heart came and truth, right over my head, burned the matrix away. I am the one. The one who has to see and now must live in TRUTH.

And now… in the glaring light of the Truth that destroys all lies, I sit on a real stump of a real old tree – solid, dry, dead wood with the reprieve of Certainty that comes in the presence of Truth and the sound of the sea. Julius keeps coming back to check on me, walking only so far with the girls before coming back.

The darkness I battled with threatens to return and my mouth calls out for numbing rum. Things of the past. Tears come at awkward times, tugging on my composure and pealing the edges of my theater mask, my warrior mask, my happy mask. No mask sticks to a slick pair of cheeks! I sit with myself, in myself, smothered under myself and vomit onto the page every bilious thought that steals my quiet. And I glance down and see a piece of something shiny and pink. Shining through tear-chafed eyes. A gift, simple and rugged. A full and pink conch shell! If I had not sat there with my tears I would not have seen it.

After seeing the shell I put my book down and stooped to get it. But it was stuck. I dug around it with my fingers clearing the sand away between the roots of the old dead stump. The points at the top of the old conch shell were buried in the dead roots, cured by salt and covered with sand and thoroughly stuck. Stuck so fast that no amount of wiggling made it give. And so I searched for a piece of stick and dug with the stick. My right hand had already gone raw by now and threatened to bleed. I lost track of time in my focus and dug furiously. Hand and stick, hand and stick, wiggle here, tug there, still no give.

And so I called to the girls down to beach to come and help me.

Thus the shell had become my only focus, a symbol of happiness. I dug in relentless pursuit of it, the dig itself a fierce determination not to give up my hope. A struggle that brought blood to my hands and tears to my eyes.

The girls didn’t hear me and I began to get frustrated. Why didn’t they pay attention? The sky was darkening and the fireball to the west had begun a low, dripping, over-ripe mango-sticky descent through the clouds. I called out again and they began to walk ever so slowly to me. It angered me that they weren’t there and didn’t care, that they couldn’t hear my calling out. Didn’t they know how important this was to me? Couldn’t they see me and my gestures and waves saying hurry?

And plain as day I got it. THE POINT. Like a dream that gives such aching clarity to a situation obscured by daylight wakenings I saw. This is the purpose of my pain.

To bring me to call on Him, the Most High. The One who can answer all my questions, cure all my ailments, and dig out all of my shells. And right there I looked up and said to him Father, the girls aren’t going to hear me. They aren’t here where I am right now. And they probably couldn’t help me anyway – I am stronger than they are. Please help me get this shell out.

And so I bent over again and began to dig. It wiggled more and I dug some more. I stepped on one side to turn it loose and dug some more. I took my hands and scooped under the shell with sand cutting into my raw flesh. By this time the girls had strolled over to me. One came and reached down to help as I straightened up.

It came loose in her hands. First try. No struggle – out it popped.

MADNESS

But it was my struggle. There was a reason.

Later at home I took that shell into my bath tub. There it will always stay pink and fresh with constant watering. It will also remind me at least twice a day, at my most naked and exposed moments, that my God is with me in every struggle and will be my armour when I feel exposed.

And so I prayed into my little book. Father, please put that gem and hide it in my heart like that shell. Stick it in there and never let it wiggle free I pray. Please remind me that You are never going to leave me and that You are so much better than anything else I could ever find. Help me remember to call to You first because You are always right here, right now, where I am. Help me remember that when my friends are far away, or when they are up close – it doesn’t matter! They don’t have Your power.

Please also use these struggles of mine, these battles I face, to strengthen the people around me. Help my struggle to allow them to find their own shell loose and ready for them to just pick it up. Take my writing and use it to Your honour and glory I pray.

Amen

It seems I knew once how to deal with pain.  I knew once how to reconnect to the core of me and commune from that core with the Source of all things good.  I am so blessed to be reminded of that knowledge today.

Self-Esteem: What is it?

This is a common sense study.  Not one based on Maslow, nor on Branden or Rosenberg.  But to rubbish the theory as we have committed to doing one must be able to define it.  What is Self-Esteem?  The common sense encyclopedia of our age has this to say:

“Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent”, “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame; some would distinguish how ‘the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the positive or negative evaluation of the self, is how we feel about it’. ” ~Wikipedia on Self-Esteem

For me to summarize, Self-Esteem as I see it is the amount of value one places on ones’ self or the amount of love one has for ones’ self.

Read the entire Wiki entry for what a low Self-Esteem looks like and what a high one looks like and we can easily see the theory:  Perfect balance and harmony are found in a high Self-Esteem and the root of all harmful human behaviours lies in a low one.

Enter the NARCISSIST:

Narcissus

Narcissus, who loved the look of his own image so much he drowned in the pool of his own reflection, has so much to teach us on Self-Esteem.  Our same common sense encyclopedia points to narcissism as being an unhealthy self-love, self-absorption, vanity and conceit.

Have you ever been around a conceited person?  Was it much fun?

I went to university with a greek (coincidence, I promise) named Nic.  I am in no danger of him reading this blog and seeing himself in it because 1. it would take away from the quality time spent in his mirror, 2. he could never see himself as a narcissist – that means something negative right? Nah.  Not me – and 3. there are so many Greeks named Nic you could recreate the Great Wall of China if you stood them on each other.  Nic was a narcissist.  Classic.  His body was more perfect than a greek god’s (even if it was a little short), his mind was more brilliant than any human being alive (about as bright as midnight), and anyone who disagreed was simply unenlightened.  He had a healthy self-esteem alright – was the life of the party, didn’t suffer from any doubts, and did not in any way appear to feel the need to over-compensate.

Now, the psychologists will say “Deep down he has an aching need to belong, has many layers hiding his true feelings, and doubts his own value.  He has something to prove.”

Hitler - Perhaps one of the most famous Narcissists in our recent history

Nah.  The guy was obnoxious, but going through Wiki’s list of symptoms of a low Self-Esteem he didn’t match up.  He had no care about what others thought, was no people pleaser, was not hyper-sensitive or hyper-critical of himself, had no guilt or perfectionism (how could you improve on perfect?), and even though he was entirely obnoxious, he had no floating hostility.  He was a complete and perfect descendent of Narcissus.  Along with Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Jim Jones, Stalin, Casanova and Marquis de Sade.

Yet he was capable, like many narcissists, of countless ills.  His conceit was nauseating and entertaining for its shock value all at once.  He was invited to parties and events just to see what he would have the balls to say next.  He was convinced that any woman who wasn’t swept off her feet by his hello was in denial, blind, stupid, and certainly not worth the rest of the conversation.  Yet his Self-Esteem – fed by ingratiating, enabling and wholly entertained friends – was not only intact but thriving.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum…

Someone with a low Self-Esteem isn’t hard to find.  Every tortured artist and troubled celebrity wears their low self-esteem on their shoulder.  There are many who have rocked the world with their goodness despite having something close to hatred for themselves.  Princess Diana is a classic example – not one biography of her life fails to capture her self-doubt, her self harm, depression, bulimia and low Self-Esteem.

Princess Diana, a life testimony to low Self-Esteem not preventing one from doing good

Whitney Houston, the idol of many and valiant champion of love and music also harmed herself, doubted herself, made a masochist of herself.  Did she have the Self-Esteem the match the level of esteem the world had for her?  She certainly did not.  But she is mourned with broken hearts all over the earth today, a few weeks from her death.

There is also the far more balanced sense of self in the vision of Mother Theresa’s humility.  Someone who made herself low, determined she was but a tool for the work of God, cannot necessarily be seen to have had heaping amounts of Self-Esteem.  By her own admission she was always plagued with doubt, feared not being good enough for the ministry she was called to.

And so… in the journey of making rubbish of the theory that high Self-Esteem leads one to perfection and low Self-Esteem is the root of all evil, we have made the first decisive step toward our destination on the Leer Jet of narcissism and the hard Hike of self harm.  But there is something in the smoke of the theory that leads us to another fire altogether.  Keep an eye out for the next leg of our journey – the Train to Identity.

Related links:

THE YAG (Mysterious Happening #2)

It was the same weekend as Mysterious Happening #1 and it was a miracle explosion.

In 2011 two young women from my church began a discussion about starting a Bible study for young adults.  They met a few times, talked around the subject with the pastor, but it didn’t quite take off.  In November they invited myself and another young woman into the conversation and now there were four of us.  We looked up a Bible study, selected one on relationships, met once, and still it didn’t take.  A little bit disheartened, we prepared to launch in January.  In our preparation we ordered books, selected a venue, worked out a menu, and launched the CIBC Young Adults page (Now called The YAG) on Facebook.  All of a sudden we were official!  Now to see if there were others out there like us who were wanting to study as well.

The Sunday before our first meeting we met with our pastor and prayed for guidance, for attendance, for the Spirit to prepare our group.  We expected five people at our launch of RELATE.

Twenty-five showed up.  The seats in my living room were all taken and some of us took the floor.  All our books were gone at meeting one and we made another order.  At meeting two there were even more people!  It was called AFTERGLOW, and we were blessed with music from Jordan and Heather Richmond, and there were no less than 40 people there.  And now we need to order MORE books!  Almost immediately it was too big for my living room and a couple from our church kindly donated the use of a warehouse that they have refurbished – wooden flooring, air conditioning, plush rugs and cozy seating.  Our Friday night (to Saturday morning) meetings continued to grow as we got deeper into the makings of good relationships.  It is the Happiest Happy Hour I’ve ever been to!

Our study is one of the Threads collection, called RELATE.  In our first meeting a visiting theologian gave us an introduction to the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was quoted in our study and was, coincidentally (nah no coincidence) the subject of his own thesis.  The first topic was Understanding Relationships.  We came to understand there is one fundamental need every human being has in their relationships – either Security or Significance.  With this foundation we came to understand more about ourselves.  We discussed the revolutionary idea that relationships are NOT ABOUT US but about the purpose we were created to fulfill.  The six “one anothers” of the New Testament were broken out for our exploration and the relationship armour of Colossians 3:12-14 were also chewed on for a good amount of time.  We are now half-way into session two – Developing Relationships, what our stumbling blocks are and what we should aim to bring to the table.

“Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community.  What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ.  Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to the both of us.”  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

In the short space of a month this has snowballed into much more than a Bible study.  It has become a whole new community, a social circle, a support system.  Young adults are coming from other churches – Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Church of God, no church at all – we are coming from all walks of life – teachers, civil servants, lawyers, students, unemployment – and we find belonging with each other.  Friendships are being formed, relationships are being rescued, issues are coming to a head, characters are being strengthened, and each of us is making the journey of the others rich in love and support, companionship and prayer.  It seems as though 2011 was a dark year for many of us – breakups, divorces, affairs, family drama, unplanned pregnancies, unemployment, alcohol-soaked violence, baby mama/daddy drama – things that make my haircuts seem trivial.  Our members have each walked out of their own individual pool of pain and into the arms of the others.  Our Facebook group has over 100 members – for an island of 50,000 people that’s pretty revolutionary!  In the space of a month our lives have begun to change – we have had a Bitterness Burning, a Baptism, a Birthday party, Valentines Cupcakes, we watched Courageous together and we have members calling in from other parts of the world on Skype.  It is our deep-seated conviction that no one should go without encouragement.  And now we are launching our missions!  We are working with our church to host Nicole Mullens in two free concerts at the end of March and we are planning our first international mission as I type!  Perhaps it will involve cupcakes… who knows?

THE YAG - heart in hand

None of us could have predicted how far this would go.  None of us could have planned for any of the growth we have made!  The mystery is in the peace that comes with being together.  Now we long for Friday night and call out encouragement and help and meet with one another throughout the week.  We are so blessed to have each other and to rest in our Father’s arms together.  And as we are salt and light during our work weeks and in our communities, we take comfort in knowing there is salt and there is light just a street over, around the corner, at another desk, in another place, and that that person is also keeping us in prayer before our God.  At the beginning and in the middle and at the end of the day it’s all about Him.

And then I had this dream… handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.  It could happen!  In fact, before the end of the year I am sure it will.

Another time I will describe my own path to YAG and through YAG and how it has changed everything.  If you are interested in sitting in on one of our sessions, or even joining our group study, please drop a comment and I will send you material and arrange your link into our meetings.  We are setting the world on fire!  I invite you to be the spark that lights the flame where you are.