John Michael continues his series Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise, reflecting on life and people encountered, considers his experiences and whether or not God loves him.
We are a mystery to ourselves, layers and layers of identity. Essentially, we tell ourselves stories about ourselves and those stories, although not solid or containing any form, become the truth about ourselves as we move through the world and our lives.
Because the stories are ephemeral, they can be changed as new information comes to light. Tonight, I had a sort of Freudian slip that changed my story and I am still adjusting to the emotions of it, and to the new freedom within me.
When I was first on the streets, and I have told this once or twice, I had a vivid dream in which I was in a cage with a note in the bottom of it. A large parrot was lowering me out of heaven, his claws on the cage, large wings in glide position. In the dream, I was wondering what the note said and heard the thought, It says, “God loves you.” In that moment, and in that dream, my anxiety around whether God loved me or not was just too high for me to open the note.
I have opened the note and I know God loves me, certainly more than I love myself, but I am still checking the paper and ink, a little, by way of metaphor for my lingering doubt. When my love for myself becomes as great as God’s love for me, well that, I assume, is spotless heaven.
The story I held until this evening was: I was afraid God didn’t love me because I was molested. How could he love such a lowly piece of shit? as I used to think of myself.
What I do know is this: my struggle with that has done more to evolve, soften, and turn my heart to kindness more than anything else that has ever happened to me.
I was telling that story this evening to a friend I am learning to trust. And I want to trust people, or, perhaps, I want to trust myself to be my true self around people, without any of my old defenses. Guard always down, so to speak.
What thought and story I had been hiding from myself, and that came out in a Freudian manner, was this: God allowed me to be molested, because he didn’t love me. In other words, I believe and know that God is all seeing and all knowing. So, he knew I was molested, knew it at the time, and didn’t stop it because he didn’t love me. What came with that thought, and what dogged me all that time on the streets, was I was absolutely and certainly going to hell. I mean, what is left for someone God does not love?
Towards the end of my street journey, I saw a blue light apparition of Jesus sitting on a bench in front of Chili’s late at night in Mansfield, Texas. That’s when I started moving out of hell and climbing out of purgatory, as way of metaphor. That is a longer story I have told many times before.
A lot of spiritual people talk about past lives and karma from past lives and try and explain why bad things happen to good people, as if there is some kind of rational explanation to the deep mystery of a human life. So, a loving God, whom I love beyond measure, knew I was molested, and allowed me to be molested. How is that possible? I don’t know.
What I do know is this: my struggle with that has done more to evolve, soften, and turn my heart to kindness more than anything else that has ever happened to me. It has also produced more wisdom in me about human suffering than this lowly sinner deserves. For that, I am deeply grateful.