Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Scorched


Two weeks ago, a friend detoxed off meth on my bathroom floor while I scrambled between rubbing her back and tucking kids into bed who prayed for her, believing she'd caught a fierce case of the flu.

She cried and shook and puked her guts out and my heart was all hers, but my eyes watched from somewhere outside my body in the atmosphere of how did I get here? What's the next right move? How can I do anything other than somehow make things worse?

I have an incredible capacity to detach. I noticed it five or six years ago, and just like the false bravado that fills streets and jails, it has served me well.

But I'm not saying it's healthy.

The past year has scared me stiff with the ways I've absorbed the pain around me. Unspeakable things have happened to people dear to us. We rally and console and do what we do, but I have not shed tears, and I begin to understand why so many faces are often so flat. I sort of see how, over time and repeated exposure to things that cut, the soul gets scorched and life distills down to two basic emotions - apathy and rage.

Last night I drove home from my Monday night class, thoughts ripping around in my head, the usual list of things I need to do, conversations I still can't make sense of, and how I think God should solve the problems blanketing my city.

Sirens tore through town, and I edged over to the curb, then drove toward home.

That's when I saw the smoke pluming thick in the night sky.
That's when I saw flames shooting out a living room window like a thousand tongues of injustice.

That's when the dam inside me broke.

There are infants whose cries are not answered, who spend their lives in front of television screens while their beautiful mamas believe this is the best they can offer. They know what they've seen, their heritage is survival. Their kids will grow into untrusting adults. They will believe they don't belong, will inscribe hatred onto their skin, will carry the scent of sorrow, will choose the distraction of attention over the discomfort of love.

God help them if they make friends with the needle, because I'm losing hope that anyone makes it out of that alive.

These cycles, they are breaking me. I cannot find my place in these waves of loss and pain.

Who lived in that house? How broken are their hearts today?
And my truest, ugliest, most unfair thought of all: what were they cooking?

Maybe it's my ability to compartmentalize pain that keeps me sniffing out the wayward flowers tangled up in chain link fence across my neighborhood. If that's what it takes for me to believe, on most days, that there is always hope climbing out of the cracks, pushing toward the light, then I'll hold on until my bones are dust.

Because driving home last night, I lost almost all of my faith, and when Jeremy Camp sang to me on the radio "There will be a day, with no more tears, no more pain, no more fears", I wanted to punch something.

That's great for you and me, Jeremy. What about everyone else?

What about the ones who were never taught to believe? The ones not taught to care? The ones who turn toward death because it trumps what they know of life? I was shown that God is good. What about everyone else?

What if my son is one of the unlucky ones?
What if my friend ends up in an early grave?

What's the point of yearning for heaven when others are doomed? Why are our tears the only ones that get wiped away? There was a time when the thought of eternity was only good, back when I was surrounded (or so I thought) by others on the express route. Now I wonder what the rush is. I honestly don't care if it all seems backwards. I'm grasping for time on behalf of those who still don't know, and I'm frustrated, because I can't make them believe or heal them up.

Today my faith hinges safely on the belief that God can return hope to me. It probably won't be today, but He'll wait with me, and it won't be long.

My prayer today is not that He will fix the battered hearts. I have no words, and I'm tired of repeating myself. If it's true that He loves them more than I do, then somewhere in the mystery, he has a plan. Heaven help us all if He's waiting for me to ask one more time.

My prayer, my only prayer right now, is that He feels gut-punched, too. I just need to know He's in this with me, and with them, sitting very near while this poison leaves our bodies, absorbing part of our pain with proximity.