Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Humanizing Judas Iscariot

I woke up this morning thinking about Judas Iscariot, you know, the guy history remembers as the “son of hell”? The one who betrayed Jesus to the Pharisees for 30 pieces of silver (roughly $250 in today’s money, but that number varies depending on which scholar you ask). Most of us know the story: Jesus is eating the Last Supper with the disciples, and he and Judas share the last piece of bread dipped in sop. Judas leaves Jesus with the other Eleven to betray him to the religious leaders for thirty pieces of silver, meets up with Jesus later with his round of Pharisees, and sends Jesus to his death with that infamous holy kiss. (Does betrayal get any worse than that?!) Later, somewhere between Jesus being interrogated and him being crowned with thorns, Judas is filled with remorse, tries to return the silver but is unsuccessful, and then goes away to commit suicide. That’s the end of his story.

It is implied by Jesus himself and the Scriptures that Judas, though he felt remorse after his betrayal, was unrepentant. It makes me wonder though, if he could have repented, would he? Maybe he could have received mercy and grace from Jesus too, like Peter did after denying him three times.

I wonder what his last moments were like, if he felt anything other than remorse as he lugged rope to the tree in the potter’s field? I wonder if could he see Calvary from the tree he hung himself on? As he climbed, assuming he’d have to climb a ways before tying the noose that would be his demise, and as his body struggled to die once he stepped off the branch, could he see, in the distance, Jesus dying for the sins of the world, for his sins, both the ones he had committed and the one that was currently taking place? Did memories of the past three years with Jesus and the other disciples go through his head?

According to Scripture, we know that Judas’ last words, at least to the scribes and Pharisees, were “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4a). As the religious leaders abruptly and immediately dismissed him, I could only imagine he felt the fullness of despair and hopelessness. Here was a man broken and distraught by his actions, desperate to make it right again, and those in the church carelessly dismiss him with a wave of their hands. “What is that to us?” they say, picking up the money he threw at them. “See to it yourself!” (Matthew 27:4b)

Would he have accepted the scarred hand of a Saviour? Or, after regret and remorse had all but consumed him, would he think himself too unworthy and leave to die anyway?

I imagine, other than Jesus’ cry of “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”, that Judas’ suicide was one of the loneliest times recorded in Biblical history.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

For Taylor

None of us clapped
after he read
AN ENTIRE ACT OF SORROW
and I wonder if Rebecca
is the bridge he still can’t burn
which is to say,
if he was there, could he,
would she have allowed him to, be her knight
in shattered armor?

He offered no thanks
after finishing,
like lost gratitude
upon someone waking him
from a most terrible nightmare.

He stood silent before us,
almost like he regretted
that 10-year line,
almost like he was the one
who opened the window,
sent her flailing to death’s kiss.

But speculation,
and even hindsight,
are broken mirrors
giving vision only to that which
is possible but can never be.

Author’s Note: Yesterday, I went to see Taylor Mali read. This is my response to one of his poems, AN ENTIRE ACT OF SORROW. The “knight is shattered armor” line is his.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Excerpt From a Book I May Write One Day

Dear Lovelies,

I was feeling poetic the other day and started writing stream of consciousness style. I did not write a poem. I wrote two paragraphs, the beginning of something that could maybe, potentially, turn into a short story or book somewhere down the road. Check it out and let me know what you think of it. I wrote this in second-person POV, which is new for me, as I’ve always tried to write in third-person, but that’s what writing is about: exploring new things, getting out of your comfort zone, deleting everything and starting all over again… One disclaimer: I AM NOT SUICIDAL; I’M JUST A WRITER. Sorry. Didn’t mean to yell at you guys but it needed to be said. Anyway, let me know in the comments, or email me, what you think of it. Happy reading!

~

The Guilt of Being

Sometimes, there’s no answer to the question “Why do you want to die?” in the midst of flashbacks that act like your own personal time machine, whisking you away, back to the place of horror, fear, abuse, and panic attacks in a church bathroom that leave you wondering if it’s actually possible for your heart to beat out of your chest cavity and onto the cold marble floor, or if your stomach could vomit up the nothingness you feel inside. You are plagued by guilt of various degrees. First, the guilt, and fear that always accompanies it, of sitting on the hard floor of a megachurch bathroom stall, leaving a semi-silent memoir of pain as you sit sniffling and, with your hands covering your mouth in a weak attempt of muffling your weeping, so as not to be detected by others trying to relieve themselves, lest they ask what troubles you. Second, the guilt that rises in your inner being because you feel like a spiritual failure. Here you are, in a bathroom stall, instead of out there being part of a congregation worshipping and praising the God who saved you from the pit and redeemed your soul for His name sake. You feel like an anomaly, a broken unworthy mess, for succumbing to your trauma-induced anxiety and having a panic attack instead of having faith in God to save you. Are you even a Christian if you have mental health problems? You’re weak. You should be ashamed of your lack of faith. You don’t belong here. You know they’re lies but they sound like truth, so you bury your face in your hands and scream a muffled, painful woe. When you think you’re all cried out, you venture out of hiding and head towards the sink to wash your face… and a stranger’s kindness forces you back into the bathroom stall to sit and weep again. You don’t belong here.

Out of desperation, or maybe a need to connect and get out of your own head, you text a friend in a different part of church, knowing she’s focused and listening to some young dude teach about God, and your chest tightens up, as you are the cause of momentary distraction, though she’ll say otherwise. You venture out of the stall—for real this time—and head to where your friend is. You step onto the elevator, mentally admonishing yourself for being so weak and when the doors open, you turn ever so slightly and see the kitchen down below, a whole two floors beneath you. A passive thought of death brushes pass but you pay it no mind, too engrossed in your current pain to contemplate future plans. Once you find your friend, she assesses the situation, asking therapist-like questions that make you squirm but it’s okay because she cares. You know she cares. She assures you that you’re not a burden and for the first time, you believe her. All is well, until later.

Because of different stressors you are currently facing—the hardest of all being Complex PTSD—you fantasize about death and suicide a lot. Like way more than you should. As you and your friend are moments away from boarding the elevator to join the mass of hungry, loquacious, and contemplative congregations down on the first floor, you look over the rail and the thought comes into your head: Jump! but you don’t, not yet. There are too many people in the room and someone might stop you. No, this must wait for the opportune moment. This needs to be foolproof, perfect.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Hope in Lamenting: When Life Has No Easy Answers

Sometimes, there’s no easy answer—or an answer at all!—for life’s hardest questions, especially for a Christian.  I doubt no one really wants to know the reason behind some of the things I ask God in the wee hours of the morning because talking about such things makes people uncomfortable and as a Christian, aren’t I supposed to be full of the love of God so much so that emotional and psychological pain have no affect on me? Aren’t I supposed to be the “light and salt of the Earth” regardless of if I can get out of bed or not?

Is There a Difference Between Physical and Psychological Pain?

Yea….no. In no other area of life are we pressured to hide our scars and hurt. Can you imagine going to the emergency room and telling the nurse or doctor trying to treat you, “Oh, it’s just a sprain. It’s not that big of a deal. I took some Advil after I fell, so just ignore the swelling and you can discharge me whenever. All this fuss really isn’t necessary”? I guarantee you wouldn’t be leaving that hospital until they X-rayed you and gave you morphine. Why is non-psychical pain treated differently than physical pain? Pain is pain.

Mental pain can affect physical pain and vice versa. Prime example: In my blog post, “Don’t Drink the Fabuloso”, I share an intimate time in my life in which I was in pain, both mentally and physically. In that place of pain and discomfort though, God found me and held me through it, even when I tried to hide my reality from Him.

In that post, I wrote the following: “We should not feel embarrassed or guilty of our suicidal thoughts when our reality becomes too much for us to handle.” In a world that shames us for being “weak” if we express our honest feelings, while simultaneously praising us for being “strong” for pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and being a lone wolf who needs no one, this is a good reminder.

“We should not feel embarrassed or guilty of our suicidal thoughts when our reality becomes too much for us to handle.”

There is Hope in Lamenting

I guess the point of this blog post is to convey two things: One, that even followers of Christ are not impervious to pain and suffering, whether that be physical or mental. Christ did not die to give us a comfortable life where trials and tribulations would never touch us. The Christian life is not Disneyworld. Suffering kinda comes with sacrificing everything to follow the resurrected Jew. Two, there are some things in life that, unfortunately, have no answer or resolution. Yes, every thing we go through will eventually be used to shape us more into the image of Christ, but there are certain things we may have to contend with while we wait for the full power of His redemptive plan to take action. We may never know why we struggle with the things we do, especially when there are no easy answers for why, but be encouraged, beloved, you are not alone. Christ stills walks with you hand-in-hand.

Posted in Stuff No One Talks About

Loving a Suicidal Writer

*I wrote this poem after reading an article about James Baldwin and his struggle with suicidal ideation*

If I ask you to martyr me within your pages,
blank and crisp, like unvarnished potential,
don’t let your memory of me fade away
like forgotten, abandoned childhood dreams.
Don’t listen to my mournful woes.
Write me beautiful and stellar,
glamorous and headstrong.
Paint me with words like “indestructible”
“iridescent” and “wonderful friend.”
If I should attempt to fall prey to my own dirty hand,
don’t let pain and trauma tell the story,
write me a new ending, one where I am the victor;
one where I live triumphant
with my long-forgotten happiness.
Hold my hand in the darkness and guide me
to yet another light. There will always come another light, won’t there?