First written on 23 September 2011
As a young boy, I dreamed of only the good the future could hold. Of meeting a beautiful girl who would share in all life would bring. Of children, and grandchildren, a house and a green lawn and flowers.
Even if a childhood is accompanied with pain, loss, abandonment; somehow we as children have more hope for a brighter future than those a generation ahead. They somehow seem to have lost their way, their focus on their dream. But as a child, you tell yourself, “I’m going to be different, life will be better for me”.
As a young man, I began to witness more of the world of which I lived, and it included things that clearly should not exist in my life. Yet there was a part of me that was drawn to these things. As a child, the future was glorious, pure and full of hope and love. But now, more seems to be added. Something that dulled the glory, but still had something to offer.
There was a time in this, the fun, the laughter, yet there was also sharp edges, and shame and guilt that went home with me, stuck to me. If I could have only stood back far enough I could see the snare, the trap just below the camouflage of bright lights.
As a man married now and children running around the house. Their giggles and laughter make you glad you’re alive. To be a part of new life, to share, to lie on your back in the grass with your own child and find the shapes in the clouds. Wow! To enjoy an evening meal cooked to perfection by the love of your life. To finding special moments to be alone with her and share.
But something in our childhood and young adult life that doesn’t seem to be part of the hoped grand story; is somehow there. It’s been there all along. It’s dark and scary. It pops up whenever something happens that brings back a memory, a time we wish didn’t happen that hurt someone, or the pain we felt when a loved one hurt us.
This is something altogether separate from my dreams and hopes. Surely something distant from the love I longed for. Yet, it also seems to stick to me. It comes out of nowhere and before you are even aware, the sticky black soot is taking control of my mind and mouth. This is not what I wanted from life. What is this thing that is so strong, I am even finding it hard to control my own will against it? It has power. It has a lot of power.
I catch myself saying and doing very damaging things to those I love. This was not part of the plan. This is not part of the dreams and hopes for love I had as a child. I seem to becoming more aware of the things that others are doing to me. Is this dark thing in me causing me to do these same things to my loved ones?
I want it to stop! I’m becoming desperate for it to stop! But I am at a lose as to where to start; what to look for. As I begin to dig for the truth, I find that a lot of people have really hurt me. Maybe this is the key. I have to stop others from hurting me. A wall. I’ll build a wall to protect me from these intruders. Surely this dark thing is masking itself as my loved ones. They are the cause of all this despair and pain.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Hurry! Build the walls so no more pain can be imputed on me. Leave me alone! I have had enough of your inflicted pain. I have dreams and hopes and you all are keeping me from experiencing the real joy that I want.
This is a lot of work, but I think I am safe at last. A day has past and all seems to be ok. I can’t see anything with these walls all around me, but I have a good imagination, I will paint the sky, the birds, the grass, and flowers. There. That’s pretty good. Well, it’s not that bad anyway. Certainly small, but cozy.
Just look at those flowers. Wow, aren’t they beautiful? But what is that? Why does that flower look like it’s dying? This is my world. The flowers in my world don’t die. Now the grass, the sky and birds are also looking a bit gray. I have made an air tight wall here. Surely nothing can get in from the outside.
I walked over to the mirror to check my face, I could feel I was sweating, filling with fear. How did that get in? What is this? I can see my reflection. Yes, that is me looking back at me, but there is something more, something dark and black staring back at me. This can’t be. I ripped the mirror off the wall and smashed it on the ground. I wiped the sweat from my face to see more clearly, but looking at my black stained hands, in horror, I knew this was a part of me. This was coming from the inside!
I have created the dark places in my life. I was the black soot that darkened my sight. I closed my eyes tight shut, hoping to still see something with my heart, some love, some hope, my dreams; but all I saw was darkness. A void darkened by my own perception, my own guilt and shame. Surely I have hurt my wife and children, my siblings and parents. Yes, they hurt me too, but in my efforts to run, to hide, or even fight, all I did was hurt them back.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Dear God! What must I do to remove this soot from me? How can so much pain and damage be undone? Surely death is the only way out of such a thing. Someone has to pay! Someone has got to pay!! I have so much guilt and shame in my memory, so much lose, so much hatred. Bitterness that seems to engulf my very soul. What can possibly wash this away? Is it possible that I could ever feel like a child again? To know only hope and love. To be clean… I just sat there with my head in my hands, tears rolling down my cheek…
~Tear down the walls you have built over your life time? Who said that? What, I just built them? ~ Ok, ok, maybe I did a long time ago! But how? What must I do to escape? ~ Trust you! I don’t even know who you are! ~ I do? ~ Love?! What do you mean love? Are you saying that I must love you and others, and the walls will come down? But what about all that has been done to me, what I did to others? ~ Let it go?!! Someone needs to pay for all this pain! ~ What do you mean, love only allows? ~ No I’m not going to just trust you. You are avoiding my question. How did love allow? ~ You want me to love my enemies? ~ You keep telling me to trust you, yet you keep avoiding my questions. I demand to understand!!
~ Ok, yes, I am listening. ~ What do you want to show me? ~ Yes, I would like to see something glorious again, who wouldn’t? ~ You want me to love who! Are you joking?! ~ Ok, ok, I will try to trust you and love them. ~ Yes, I want to be free of this dark place. ~ Ok, I WILL trust you, and I WILL love them. But I am alone in this small world I created, I cannot see anyone. How…? ~ Yes, I will trust you…
Where are we going? ~ Wow, it’s very bright and I can see forever from here! Look over there, that small dot, was that my world? ~ Really! But this! I have never before seen anything so vast, so amazing, so beautiful in all of my life! Is this love? It’s so clear! Is this you? ~ I can see you now! You are beautiful, indescribable! ~ While I don’t understand… No. It’s like I don’t even need to understand now… I just know something deep in my heart is telling me that you are the love that has always been there, that Love that lives within everyone. I am feeling warm and light, like you are holding me! Is this grace?
I can see now just how wonderful you are, how magnificent the heavens are. This is glorious!! I feel like I’m floating on wings like eagles!! … But look there… I can also see from here what seems like a sea of dark spots scattered across your beautiful world. Are some of your flowers dying? ~ I am looking close. Oh, they are walls of black soot. Yet, I can see right through them, like glass. I can see the pain and anger in their faces, the fear.
Now I know I was not hiding anything. Hypocrisy almost glows in the dark. All the effort I put into looking good, only looked bad and everyone knew it except me. I was blind. Many are just like I was, caught in their own deception, a world of their own making, created with their own minds.
But I don’t see my walls anymore, where did they go? ~ Why are you smiling at me? ~ Washed clean? I’ve been washed clean? ~ I’ve been washed clean!! It feels so good to laugh again, to laugh with you, to dance! I really know in my heart that you love me now. And I have never before felt so safe! I feel free at last!!!
But… what can I do to help them see what you are showing me? ~ Love them? ~ Yes, I can love them. From here standing with you, I am getting a deep feeling that I love all of them, everyone. From here, I can also see through all the different religions, doctrines and beliefs. This isn’t about who is right or wrong, but about Loving others! So, all I need to do is love them and you will do the rest? ~ You will open the eye of their hearts to see what we are seeing? ~ But what if they don’t listen to me, what if they hate me? ~ They will see You?
~Steve. Love them as I have loved you, even as Jesus gave up his life to show unconditional love trying to show this light. Love them with all of your heart, strength, soul, and mind! Love them. You are only just beginning to see them as I see them. It’s time to become a man! Just Love them all as beautiful children created in My Image… This is where the healing begins.