“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Psalm 73:26
Ever find yourself in a place where you need to take your own advice? Not in a bad way, not even in a humbling way, but in a way that's simply necessary, like a word of appreciation in a vacuum of love, or a life preserver thrown to an armless man in a freezing sea?
Of course, whether or not the drowning man can grab onto the life-saving device without any arms is another matter. Perhaps we are like lizards, underwater creatures who grow back the limbs they've lost. Are we a dominant species of invisible mammalian octopus, creatures of infinite (if not always tangible) resources after which the false Hindu deities have patterned themselves in their jealousy? Do I have more arms than I think I do?
Selfie in a Bathroom Mirror ©2022 Nathan Payne
That picture came out weird. It doesn't even look like me. Regardless of the spiritual dimension filters that can be applied to modern digital photography thanks to social advancement enhancements like Snapchat and TikTok, if I have that many arms, the "life preserver" shouldn't even be necessary. I should be able to easily tread water with all my golden arms, which are depicted in the idolatrous image above, like a grainy photocopy of the real thing.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
Well, okay then, good. I needed to hear it. If I have that many arms, I shouldn't even have to settle for treading water. I should be able to reach the shore with ease, in addition to opening the door while holding a bag of groceries, if not following the train of thought to its grisly conclusion and making the rookie mistake of jumping off the roof of a tall building, to my idiotic, avoidable demise. Been there. Done that. Metaphorically, to death. But if I have that many arms, maybe I'll even devote one arm exclusively to holding on to my keys, so I am never locked out of anything again. Houses, cars, forgiveness, Heaven. Now that I will never lose my keys again, maybe I can finally extend that which I have so easily received. Cuz there are some people I need to forgive. The bodies in the attic are leaking from the suicide tub, overflowing and dripping into my bedroom and kitchen below. I have not killed them. Rather, they have killed me. It is not their blood leaking from a bottomless well of unforgiveness, flowing over the ceramic basin in which they have eviscerated my spirit, dripping onto the tile. It is mine. It is my blood dripping through the cracks in the ceiling, pooling on the floor of a room in which I can find no spiritual rest. It's their corpse, but it's my blood.
I even wrote a song about it, without knowing what I was writing about at the time.
There are tangents here, you can go on if you please. I will write about them with my invisible arms, and you can read about them with your invisible eyes at your leisure. The shortest one is that I wrote that song to cheer me up. Because I have been oppressed by demons my whole life, it worked. Thanks for listening.
So anyway, forgiveness. Yawannit? Fine. You got it. Here it is. I release you from the prison in the attic. Your chains are now your own. It is my sincere hope and prayer that you remove them before The Ghost of Christmas Lost takes another 40 or 50 years (or more) to which you have given him legal right. Yeah yeah, I get it: Dismissiveness. I took that almighty hint a long time ago. Okay, well... It isn't me you're dismissing; it's your own mercy and grace.
“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” Jonah 2:8
It's your funeral. You've seen the movie. The final ghost is mute. The message is unspoken; it is written in your heart. On an invisible tombstone, perhaps. Thy will be done.
I'm glad that's over. What a relief. Here's your condemnation back, Satan. I give it back to God. "A-Dios," as they say in Spanish. Enjoy your eternity of unfulfilling torment. I'm out.
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15
I made a Christmas card for all the empty people this year. I made it several hours ago, to make myself feel better, in lieu of dying. This is it. The lonely reindeer flying above the crumbled-up concrete blocks perfectly symbolizes the way I feel. Or rather, felt, before I took off the chains of Christmas Lost.
The symbolic flying octopus in the image is made of garland, which is a festive substance that represents childlike hope, joy, and love. A love which has perhaps been crushed by circumstance and life. He longs to join his brother reindeer in the sky, but at the moment he is tacked to a wall, alone. Has he been abandoned there? Will anybody save him? Can he paddle to safety with his invisible arms? Where would he paddle to, in a shark tank full of ghosts? The ruins and rubble of his former life are beneath him, but he yearns to be reunited with his family, friends, and the God who saw fit to make him out of garland in the first place. They are waiting for him. He now has more stake in Heaven than on earth. He is tired of the dust. The rotten, angry dirt. A world of unforgiving (and therefore unforgiven) people who keep their corpses in the attic. It's too heavy. He doesn't want it anymore. He just wants to go home.
He will get there. It may look bleak at the moment, but he will get there. And so will I. And so will you, if you dispose of your chains, and set the dead bodies in your attic free.
See you there.
Thanks for listening.
p.s. The advice I had to take, from myself earlier today, was from 2 articles I wrote last year, "Surviving A Dark Christmas" and "Darkness To Light." They helped. One is all about taking the risk of having faith, in spite of every reason we've learned to never have faith in anything ever again, so that we might enter like Charlie Brown through the gates of Wonkaland, and one is a simple reminder of how much worse it's been, or could be. I needed to hear it. If you feel tacked to a wall above a pile of rubble, or can't find any reason to shine a light on the dusty garland in your soul, maybe they'll help you out as well.