Friday, 31 August 2012

The Real Me

“Just bee yourself.”  I think that is from some Disney movie. 
I feel a certain amount of pressure to be myself around people, especially around those who know me.  Society teaches that we should be true to ourselves.  I think the whole of elementary curriculum these days is based around that.  I feel like I keep being told that I should be open with my friends, especially those with whom I am closest.  I had this fear today.  What if the real me isn’t beautiful.  What if no one would like the real me?  The real me is selfish and depressed.  Would anyone want to hang out with such a person?  The real me wants to be the centre of attention.  The real me will talk and talk, and you won’t find her very interesting.  What if the real me is ugly.  The real me is lazy.  The real me is unkind.  The real me is hurting, and quick to hurt others.  The real me wants you around when I want someone around, and wants you to get out of my face when I want to be alone.  The real me wants to curl up in a ball and cry, and if you won’t say a word or ask any questions I might let you come and put your arm around me, or I might get up and run away.  The real me is unpredictable.  What if no one wants to be friends with the real me?  It almost seems wrong to be the real me around other people.  I think it would be unfair to them.  I fear that people wouldn’t know how to respond to the real me.  I don’t know that the world is yet ready for the real me, or maybe the real me is not yet ready for the world.  The real me has some learning, maturing and growing to do.
But I am tired of being fake.
“How are you?”
But I am not good.  My insides are all hurting, but does anyone really care?  Does anyone have time to care?  Maybe first I’ll try to learn to be honest with myself, and then I’ll try to be honest with God.  After that I’ll have to decide if it is worth it to be honest with the world.
The real me is ugly, but the real me is longing for friendship.  The real me is desperate for attention.  The real me yearns for comfort and the real me is tired of hiding.  The thing is that I like having friends.  It is so much easier just to say that I am "good".

Monday, 27 August 2012

I've been kinda sad recently.  I miss my daddy.  I have also been exhausted.  In the midst of my exhaustion I've been longing for comfort.  I want to be comforted.  I have a couple of thoughts about that.  The first one is that I do not know what it would look like for me to receive comfort from someone.  I can think only of two times when I have really received comfort from people.  One was a long hug from a friend after I shared that my dad had died. (I did get a few other good hugs around that time too.) The other was was a hug when I was 14 or 15 and at camp.  I started crying one night as I was in bed and someone heard me and came over and held me and let me cry.  When I was a kid, if I got hurt I'd want to go be alone.  I remember crying into my bed, or into my stuffed toys, but not in the arms or others, and rarely in front of people.
For most of my life I have been looking for attention.  For a long time that was my greatest emotional need.  I think right now that need has shifted.  I want to be comforted.  I don't know what that would look like.  I don't know if I am ready to be sad in front of others, or shed tears or let them know that I need comfort. 
I don't really know what it is to be attracted to someone.  even less do I understand what it is to be turned on by someone.  At camp I found myself somewhat checking people out, but I wasn't really checking them out.  My concern was with one thing, will they comfort me?
When it comes to attention, I've learned that people will always disappoint me.  They cannot be around all the time.  They will not constantly be ready to listen to the stories of my life.  I think I need to learn that just as God can give me all the attention that I need, he too can give me the comfort that I need.  I don't know what it looks like to receive comfort from people.  I certainly don't know what it looks like to receive comfort from God. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Compound

I stole some ideas from my friend, and from a dream he had, and then I wrote this short story.  Enjoy:

The concrete walls were high and unyielding as if they were trying to keep people out, so I was surprised when I met two friendly men in white shirts with orange ties.  They looked to be barely 20, yet they were clean shaven, and presented themselves in such a way that I would have thought them to be much older.
With warmth in his eyes, the shorter one stepped forward and shook my hand “Hello and welcome.” He said with enthusiasm that could make one think we were newly acquainted long lost friends.  I was taken aback, intrigued.  I listened intently as he went on. “We are Recruiters for The Family of Purity.  I am Advisor Johnson and this is Advisor Peterson.”  With that introduction, the taller man stepped forward and shook my hand.  I wondered at what these young men, barely older than me, had accomplished to become Advisors.  I wondered what The Family of Purity really was, and if could I become part of it?
I was shocked when Advisor Peterson offered me a tour of looming compound that stood behind him.  Eagerly I took him up on the offer.  They unlocked the heavy doors to let me in.  There I saw a multitude.  Men, woman and children, all dressed alike in orange jumpsuits.  All seemingly with a task at hand, yet they stopped to greet me with a welcoming handshake and a smile.  Momentarily I noticed that I stood out.  Dressed casually in a t-shirt and shorts, it was obvious that I was not one of The Family.  I observed their interactions with each other.  Like a family they called each other by their names, or simply just brother, or sister or father. 
As I was taking this all in, and shaking the hands of those who approached me, the loneliness and emptiness of my life hit me.  Before me was family, a chance to belong and find meaning in my life.  I wondered what they would require of me, but I was willing to give almost anything.
Advisor Johnson broke into my thoughts.  “The Family of Purity exists so the all men might find happiness on this earth, and in the life to come.”  His words were a melody to my ear.  His song continued when he added “We believe that you can be happy, like the people here, if you follow simple commandments.  It is our hope that you give yourself to The Compound, because only in this Family can you find joy.”
“How can I do that?”  I shook with anticipation.
“I have The Pamphlet which you can read, and I trust as you read it that you will feel the goodness of The Compound and long to be part of it.”  As he said this he pulled a 24 page mini-book out of his pocket and handed it to me.  I was taken out of the moment as I lost myself inside the pages.  He was right.  This had to be good.  How could something with so much unity, with so much love, be anything but good?
When I was finishing the second page Advisor Peterson interrupted my thoughts.  “You’ll have plenty of time to study The Pamphlet later.  For now, come, let us show you further into the compound.”
I was torn.  I desired to continue to read the words of The Pamphlet, the words of life, but I also wanted to see more of the compound.  Slowly I found the strength to but The Pamphlet away and give the Recruiters my full attention.
I followed them in awe as I took in my surrounding.  The bright orange jumpsuits stood out against the muted walls.  As we walked towards the centre of the compound, we passed through a hallway.  On either side the grey walls were lined with men and woman in jumpsuits.  Their arms and legs were chained, bolted into the walls.
“This is a beautiful sight” Advisor Johnson said confidently to me, but I didn’t see the beauty.  These humans were chained; they were trapped.  How could anyone think the suppression of another was a beautiful thing?  Then I looked upon their faces.  They didn’t look miserable.  In fact, they were smiling, even laughing at times.  Advisor Johnson continued, “These men and women know about the evils of society, and have chosen to stay away from anything evil.  They are so committed to The Family that they are willing to give their life.  They have no desire to break free from the chains that entangle them.”
I wouldn’t have been able to believe The Advisor if I hadn’t seen the faces of The Family Members.  When I looked at the glitter in their eyes and the smile on their faces I knew that they would have it no other way.  We passed into the core of The Compound.  Here, both men and woman were in cells.  They looked out from between the bars as we passed through.  There was a solemn air about the place, and we spoke not a word as we hurried through.  Once out on the other side, Advisor Peterson explained what I had just seen.
“Those are the weakest Members of our Family.  Though they desire purity, if allowed any freedom, they fail to obtain it.  Still we love them, so we do all we can to enable them to live the purity they desire.  Inside the cells they face no temptation.  They are safe from the dangers of this world and the dangers of one’s self.” 
“This really is a family” I said amazed at how much they cared for each other.
“”Yes,” replied Advisor Johnson, “And it is a family of which we invite you to be a part.”
“What must I do?” I inquired eagerly.
“We invite you to prepare yourself to be born into the Family of Purity as soon as possible.”
“And how do I prepare?”  I was ready to do anything.
“You must show yourself that you are committed to The Plan of Purity.”  Advisor Peterson counselled “for the next week you must live to the standards of purity as are outlined in The Pamphlet.  Come with us, we will show you what we have in place to help you.”
We walked towards the exit of The Compound.  I noticed for the first time, armed guards standing at the doorway.  They were not concerning themselves with the people walking into The Compound.  They were watching those inside, and I wondered if they’d let us leave.  One of the guards took a step towards me.  I froze in terror momentarily until I saw the large smile on his face.  He offered me a handshake and introduced himself.  I walked into the blazing sun with The Recruiters.  I hadn’t remembered the sun being so hot that morning.
Along the outside of building there stretched an iron rod.  I hadn’t noticed it on my way in.  Advisor Peterson pulled out handcuffs from his pocket.
“What’s this about?” I asked.
“We want to help you to stay committed to The Plan of Purity.  We invite you to handcuff yourself to this rod so that you do not give into any temptations and, in so doing, forsake purity.  We hope that in a week’s time when we come back that we find you pure and ready to be born into our Family”
I took the cuffs and sighed deeply.  Slowly, but deliberately I attached one of the cuffs to the rod and the other to my wrist. 
“I believe you,” I told the recruiters as they went on their way.
“And we believe in you.” They replied.
Then I pulled out The Pamphlet, excited and ready to learn about The Family of Purity.