The popular belief these days is to simply embrace your true self. To stop denying who you really are, whatever that looks like- and in the process, only surround yourself with people who affirm it.
Well, I don’t think anyone would want to be around me if I did that.
In sifting through my Evernote folders, I came across a poem I wrote sometime earlier this year. From the looks of it, I was having a really rough day. It must have been the day I saw Sia’s music video for her song Elastic Heart, which would explain the reference in the first part of the poem. I feel somewhat embarrassed for saying this, especially in light of Shia Labeouf’s latest viral explosion (you know, the one where he yells “JUST DO IT” a bunch of times?)… but that music video ripped me open. I remember feeling overwhelmed when it was done, as it left me with tears spilled down my face and bewildered by my reaction. Abram wasn’t home for whatever reason, which thankfully allowed me to deal slowly with whatever was trying to come out over the course of the afternoon. Not that I can’t deal with stuff in front of my son- I often do, for both of our sakes. But sometimes, children don’t afford you the courtesy for long, afternoon bouts of self analyzation.
It all came out in this poem called Bloodline. I’m a little scared to let you see this, as I usually am when I share this side of my writing. But as I came across it, I felt compelled to share, perhaps in thinking on the world and culture we live in. I know I’ve kept it pretty light over the last several weeks, so I’m sorry for jumping from silly pictures of college cafeteria life to this. I only wrote half of it that day, and the other half a few days ago when I decided that it wasn’t finished. The second half is in bold.
I know I’ve come out a bit different
But I’ve still got the same blood running through my veins
Which is why I know most of my bad thoughts aren’t whispers from the devil
But darkness inside of my own DNA
Maybe the reason that caged dance
Is because I’ve been at war with myself since
The day I was made
And try as I might to allow the clean blood to take over
Some days I can’t help but be stuck in the reign.
The reign of family history.
History flowing deep inside of me.
I can feel it trying to slowly blot me out
Like the moon eclipses the sun.
Curses aren’t just incantations in fables
But as real as unmarked tombstones
They are forever like the lines on the palms of my hand
Sins that are buried with bones.
I feel the serpent creep slowly, subtly inching towards my brain
Wanting to sink into the right lobe and then the left
Start wars that are only fought in vain…
My answer is no, even though parts of me want to give in.
It fights to take over, it wants every inch of my inside
But curses can end, for so long they can only try
To consume a child, and sometimes they win
But if I fight back…
If I fight back against what was started within…
Then maybe. Maybe the Reign of Family History will finally, and with great anticipation and with triumphant celebration and with blood-marked justification…
Come. To an end.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest name I know…
I do know You
But You’ve known me far before the star stuff exploded
You’ve known about my bloodline
You were inside of my history
You wept when our children wept
Because of the things that were stolen
Your righteousness burned with white flames
As you watched father’s sins birth more sin
There are things you’ve allowed to happen
And my heart still asks the why questions
You knew me.
You knew I was coming.
And you decided to put a fight in me.
I’m not special.
The divide created from the moment Eve decided to try and take your place
was in my heart when it started beating.
So this fight, this freedom uprising
I cannot take credit.
I know in my blood the foul potential
And all I’ve got as weapons are truth and grace.
Grace… greater than ALL of my sin
You knew me, You know me, You know where I’m headed…
I don’t know why I’m so overcome with gratefulness today. I’m certainly not going to complain.
There are just some days when I see the art and the beauty and the redemption in everything that meets my eyes and ears. These days are rare and under constant threats of endangerment.
How do I make days like these happen more often?
I can’t process things with my hands and feet in the front yard dirt like I normally do. The typical Florida weather has been replaced with some type of cold that is rare to November, especially in these parts. But I don’t care. Today I’m connecting with something else; the forever sky.
There’s something about the sun that is different in the cold, fall Florida sky. It shines brighter. The shadows in everything are muted, and it’s as if the great photographer over exposes the scenery, making objects crisp.
Oh, but the yellows and browns in the leaves that lay in abundance on my almost-dead grass. The colors are saturated. Greens are left in waiting as these colors run deep all over the street.
Then I look up into the forever sky, and I try to fathom my God who dwells up there, somewhere and everywhere in the Forever. And in that Forever, He is able to look down, past the galaxies and black holes and see little me.
And not only does he sees me, but his eyes find me with fondness. With love. With pleasure.
Fear is like the overcast clouds, standing right in between sunshine and storm; joy and suffering. It’s like the holding of a breath, waiting for the rain to fall down in a rush. The temperature drops, and the wind begins to swirl around you. The hair stands up on your arms as you await for that first drop to land on your face.
Overcast clouds tell you to stay inside; it MIGHT storm. You wouldn’t want to take the chance and get wet, would you? You don’t need to breath in the fresh air. Stay. Inside.
What it doesn’t want you to rationalize is that whether or not it storms, you’re free to go outside as you please. If it doesn’t rain and the clouds dry up, you have the gleaming sun to dance across your skin. If the skies do choose to open up its floodgates, then… well, you’ll likely get wet. But getting rained on is rarely as terrible as we anticipate it to be.
Sure, you might get soaked. There’s a chance you’ll find yourself cold and frustrated. It might even cause a fever, forcing you to go back inside and rest.
Flower buds need the touches of sunlight AND water to bloom.
Embrace the sunshine.
Embrace the rain.
Sometimes, we get to experience these beautiful weather reactions called sun showers. They are my favorite. Yes, it’s raining, but the sun is also high and bright and reminding me that it’s still there. It’s in these showers that I reminisce on what it’s like to feel deep joy in the midst of suffering. It’s possible, I promise.
But if you find yourself listening to those overcast clouds, that’s okay. It’s a normal reaction. Acknowledge the clouds, and open up the front door anyway. Put one foot in front of the other, and plant your feet in the dirt you were made from. Close your eyes, and listen to the swirls of the wind. Smell the sweetness in the air as the temperature begins to cool. Slowly reach your hands out in front of you and whisper…
Here you go, Father. I hand this over, take the fear. Whether the sun shines or the rain falls… this life is worth the living, and from my lips your name shall be praised.