Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Am His Beloved?

(December 2010)

I’m just gonna skip all the artsy-fartsy footwork and tell you straight up what’s happening.

First, you need to know that I’m a hater. I don’t hate you, or the Muslims, or the wife-beaters. It is my own pitiful self whom I am happy to loathe. It’s been my make-up, my m.o. from as far back as I can remember. "Jesus loves me." (does He?) "This I know." (are you sure?)

Tic toc. Tic toc, the pendulum swings.

When I was a child, I had a recurring dream (tune in a little Pink Floyd here,) difficult to describe. In it, for what seemed like endless hours, I bounced back and forth from the ceiling of my bedroom toward the window on the opposite wall. The only thing I’ve ever understood about that dream - and I know it for certain - is that I wanted to escape that room ... but I never did. The last time I had the dream, in fact, a darkness covered the window, possibly meaning I was trapped forever.

Welcome to my own prison. These words are my diary screaming out loud. And all that jazz. In here, I am a trained killer. I am Gollum, Dorian Gray, Dick Whitman. I am amanda. I am His Beloved?

Maybe this is a little bit artsy-fartsy after all. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Here are the guts of the story, the part you’re no doubt waiting for me to get around to. At some point in the recent past, it came to mind that I wanted to have "Beloved" tattooed on my wrist. I’ll just stream out my line of thought here: 1)(I have believed since I was young that) my name means "Beloved"; 2)Look at Biblical history. When God claims someone, He changes their name. 3)"and another will write on his hand, ‘belonging to the LORD’" Isaiah 44:5 (NASB); 4)I have hoped that a constant, visual reminder might quiet the negative thoughts.

It’s a strategic battle-plan, really. I will show the enemy of my soul that I am, in fact, worthy of God’s love and that He has claimed me. (are you sure?)

Now this mustn’t become some kind of tattoo business. "Ohhh, that girl’s goin’ to hell if she writes on herself," business. I already have a tattoo. It is, in a sense, an altar to God, marking the end of one treacherous journey. It is also a message: we all, "within the family" and "outside the family," are on a level playing field. It also says that I won’t go to hell for having it.

Do y’all know there’s a Bible story about an angel coming to answer one of Daniel’s prayers but, as the angel explains, he’d had to fight for three weeks against a dark angel in order to reach Daniel? (I’m re-telling a re-telling by John Eldredge as told in Waking the Dead and you need to employ all your senses here.) In essence, the bad guy had placed a force-field around an entire region and it took real warfare to break through it. Dude. The bad guys have force-fields.

The bad guys actually employ all sorts of tactics and, particularly as I’ve journeyed through the 12-step valley, the battles have been especially gruesome. I’ll spare you the violence and share a few of the victories.

I listened to Waking The Dead on cd as I traveled recently. At one point, John Eldredge told a story about his desire to know that God had called him to something, that he had been created to be and do something special. In his telling, John said, "God had His own name for me and I wanted to know what it was, the name elemental to my being." (I paraphrase.) I stopped the cd, amazed and wondering if God was communicating with me somehow. We (Terry and I) happened to be at a stopping point so, as I wandered for a few moments, I was thinking, "Okay. God must be telling me that He has, in fact, claimed me. He has a name for me. ... But it can’t be ‘Beloved.’ That’s just what I want it to be. That’s just me trying to impose my personal desires over God’s will." I resolved myself to the usual state of being. But when I re-started the cd, John said, "As I hiked the trail and pondered the possibility, I decided that the name God had for me could not possibly be [what he had hoped.] That’s just me trying to impose my personal desires..." I paraphrase again but it was a dead-on hit. John went on to tell how God set him undeniably straight. (Buy the book.) I divulged a little of it to Terry then. Through tears, of course.

Now I’ve got to have it straight with God before I go inking myself. But I must also have Terry’s permission and blessing, something I’ve been without since that first tattoo, mind you. Recently, however, perhaps feeling a little of the Christmas spirit, he told me that he would drive me to a parlor, sit with me to watch, and even pay for me to have "Beloved" tattooed on my wrist. I couldn’t even actually respond to his offer. I had to hang my head in resignation as I left the room. I was back to toc.

Several days later, I logged onto Facebook to see a picture of a friend’s wrist with a new tattoo ... an altar to God, I believe. A message to others, certainly. That’s when I called Terry at work to tell him that I couldn’t get my tattoo ... but I didn’t tell him why. How do you tell people - especially people who love you, whom you love in return - that you are not certain that God finds you worthy of His love?

After making that call, it occurred to me that I should listen to the Christmas eve sermon that I’d missed. There were a couple to choose from so I chose randomly. That message, the one I blindly chose, ended with a story about a man who changes his name as he answers God’s call on his life. As he ponders whether the name he chooses is the correct one, (I’m editing and inferring a little), he asks, "did he (the one whose name he’s chosen) really love me?" The response he’s given is, "What more could he possibly have done to demonstrate his love for you?"

I don’t know if anyone actually reads this stuff or if my words just drift away into the cosmos, losing weight as they exit the earth’s atmosphere, eroding to mist in its shadow. But I woke up this morning with a compelling, soul-deep need to share all of this. So I started to write, and I reconsidered, and I re-wrote. But what I’m about to tell you - well, it changed the whole arrangement.

And just in case I don’t compose this part with enough clarity to raise your back-hairs, then I’m instructing you: after you read it, stop for a second and just trip out.

I’d been awake for only minutes this morning when pieces of this came to me, for only minutes more before I was at my computer, recording them. Back and forth I went, from quiet time to word processor. As habit, I had a peek at Facebook. Three emails but no time for that. Back and forth. More phrases. A remembered piece from another book. I should share that right away. Back to Facebook and, as I was typing, the ‘three’ changed to ‘four’ so I clicked. The "just arrived" email was from a childhood friend who began with this, "Hey! I have NO IDEA why I am writing you about this. Something just told me to!" Without reading on - because I was somewhat aware of what was happening and I was freaked out of my gourd!, I sat back and took the screen in as a whole, seeing the words "tattoo," and "God," and "dark times." I had to walk away and come back to read it. Her words were encouraging, did you guess?, and ended with, "like I said, I have NO FRIGGIN IDEA why I had to stop what I was doing and write that, but maybe now I can finish my coffee!"

What more could He possibly do?

But the real question now is this: will I share this, my burden and my blessing? ... tic... or will it remain mine, alone? ... toc...

I mourned like a dove;
My eyes fail from looking upward.
O LORD,
I am oppressed;
Undertake for me!
Isaiah 38:14



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