denial

Day 95

My partner just asked how many days behind I was. Turns out it’s three. Doops.

Pulled my pipe out so I could feel distinguished. Now I might have to have a quick smoke tonight. Don’t know how my partner will feel about that, but we’ll see. It’s like having a glass of red wine in my hand as I write: it makes me feel thoughtful and classy.

I just watched the movie Saved! tonight. If you’ve never seen it, go watch it. I forgot how good it is. It’s different to see movies that involve God now that I’ve grown closer to (but still infinitely distant from) Him. My favorite part of movies like Saved! and Dogma is that they involve a character (or two) doubting, questioning, and at some points even denying God, but later they come to know and love God again, and usually their eyes are opened by an unlikely source: in Saved!, the cynical, rebellious Jewish girl comes to the main character’s aid when no one else will help or pay attention to her, and in Dogma, two irreverent stoners, a stripper (who happens to be Serendipity, a muse), and the never-mentioned thirteenth apostle of Jesus Christ (all who have very non-traditional views on God) are the ones who help the main character (who works at an abortion clinic) save the world.

I think the hard part for me is that in both of the above movies, the hard-headed religious zealot is the bad guy/girl. I don’t want to be like that; I don’t want to turn into something I hate. I can see how it must be easy for people to get incredibly evangelical and feel like if they’re not talking about God all the time then they’re doing it wrong. I have to remember that sometimes (often?) in our modern world that people do not want to hear this message. People do not want to hear that they are wrong, that who they are is not good enough. I don’t blame them.

For those of us living in this strange world, caught as we are within the so-called “Great Mystery,” travel down the road comes slowly; at least for me it did. It still does. And it’s hard for me to remember that there are people with different interpretations of the Bible. I feel as though I’m missing something. Perhaps by the time I have finished the Bible I will have a better understanding. Perhaps I will have a sense of how to interpret it and still remain myself. Right now I feel like I’m going to be lost in all this.

A Christian who is a sculptor might make statues that glorify God, a painter might make a painting. I know how to write and speak; perhaps this is how I will glorify Him. But I also have empathy and compassion… perhaps by demonstrating and teaching the truth of Love, I can bring people to the truth of Light.

1 John 4:8 would be appropriately quoted here,

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

but I prefer, having now read it, 1 John 4:7, which reads

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

I like it because the negative is absent; 1 John 4:8 clarifies that God is love (but as C. S. Lewis writes, love in itself is not God or a god to be worshiped) but 1 John 4:7 is a positive command, a blessing, if you will, a wish that we will love one another as dear friends. If I were to die right now, I would want 1 John 4:7 to be my last words to the world.


I’m going to catch up on my other two chapters. This is good enough for this one.

Peace be upon you.

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Day 41

I read me some Genesis 41 today, and we’re dealing with Joseph as the interpreter of dreams as instructed or inspired by God. But I want to talk about something else today, and only briefly.

This song is another one of those that you’re probably sick of if you listen to the radio often. I do not, and I love it. It’s just so catchy! I had déjà vu when I heard it because I swear I’d heard it before.

If I had to guess, I’d say the song had to do with the ups and downs and struggles of love and relationships. But I really like the first thing she says:

“All the broken hearts in the world still beat.”

— Ingrid Michaelson, Girls Chase Boys

This is a beautiful truth and it speaks to me in many ways. The thing that comes to mind most readily relates to a conversation that I had with a coworker at a restaurant. We were both servers, and most of the people there were miserable. It was hard to see so many people just bitter and hurting with nowhere to go.

We were talking one day, this woman and I, and something came up about denial. I said something about how I didn’t think it was a very good strategy. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me.

“When I work all day at this job and go home exhausted to my little daughter and I have to put a smile on my face even though I want to kill myself, denial is the only thing I have to get through it.”

I shut up pretty fast. But if I could go back to that conversation, I would say that I don’t consider denial to be a healthy long-term strategy. In the short term, we all have to bite the bullet sometimes and get by. But I can’t imagine doing it for years and years of misery with no progress toward anything. How? How does anyone live that way?

I understand time’s habit of getting away from us; I really do. I just officiated a wedding for someone I knew when I was like, five years old. Now we’re older, she’s getting married, and I still have memories from back then in my head. It’s so weird to think of all the things that have changed (at least so it seems, from my human perspective).

But this song… so many people in this world that are just crushed or beaten down or heartbroken… and yet like my coworker, they press on. They push through each and every day because they feel they have to. I am reminded here of Mother Teresa, who just straight-up lost her faith and felt abandoned by God, but still stuck to her mission and helped so many people and did so much good. Is it possible that denial got her through?

To me, functional denial is like functional alcoholism: even if you’re getting by, you still have a problem. Active denial is the worst kind of lie: a lie to oneself, an abandonment or rejection of the pure unadulterated Truth of life. It is avoidance of reality and of one’s own feelings. But I understand it.

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote that the “denial system” is important because it allows us to function even if we are hurt. But a healthy mind has neither need nor room for denial. A healthy mind is filled with acceptance of what Is and rolls with the punches. A healthy mind formulates a plan or does something to get out of a bad situation, or deals with that situation with serenity and grace.

So, to quote Ingrid Michaelson again, “Let’s not make it harder than it has to be.” Let’s search within ourselves, let’s forgive ourselves and others, let’s accept today for what it is, and let’s do our best, knowing that our best will get better.

Let’s mend these broken hearts of ours as best we can, and let the wholeness and completeness within make our hearts beat even louder and stronger. Let’s allow our strong hearts to speak for themselves by demonstrating a life of compassion, expression of ourselves, love, respect, and generosity. Let’s show all of these things, so that the broken hearts will see that is is possible to be healed. Let’s extend our healing hearts to others, let’s show them a beautiful world, let’s show them the grace, unity, and power that comes at once from Above and from Within.

Go out, and spread the Word.

Peace be upon you.