This, truly, is a nervous post. A confession. I have known only two people in my life who have trusted me intimately enough to confirm they understand what I am about to say. I ask, in as much as you can in a blog post, to keep in mind that the sum of 900 words does not tell you all there is to know about me.
Integrity is what you do when no one else is looking.
If this is true, then there's little hope for me.
I need the Church.
I even need the comical, saccharine, trite things of the Church, because I don't know that I would be much of a Christian if it weren't for the community of Christians.
For I do not struggle in the usual ways. Maybe it's the product of intellect or the power of a long-used imagination, but the foil to how I can turn a phrase, to how I can weave out characters that fascinate, is that within me I feel as if I know what evil is.
Not common evil.
Not a word of gossip here or a cruelty there, a cold sort of evil.
It strikes perpetually.
It's why I pause, longer, on the word thought when we confess sins committed in thought, word, and deed.
Within an interval of time no shorter than a breath, I can be capable of the greatest good or the damnedest deed.
See, I can do this Jesus thing very well.
I can exegete a passage, talk a good game of grace, and lay out the elements of worship on a table and offer them to you, shall believe in them, shall even keep believing in them long after, but in the midst a flutter-by thought shall come, an old wickedness, a pansexual circus of debauched desire and the violent grotesque.
In this mind of mine, I have murdered, I have whored, I have embodied the character of Sin and her bastard children.
Because you shouldn't underestimate the erotic, how it can taint everything. How it festers and grows in quiet. Try being the person I'm accountable to: how am I supposed to describe my struggles for the day, when yours are singular moments, specific instances, lines that were crossed, and mine feels like a rolling tidal wave of noxious, cheap perfume poured out to Dionysius and sacrificed to the horned god?
I have sometimes, in the darkest, wondered if I might be a sociopath. Apparently, it's that I even ask this question that confirms I'm not. I have, instead, what FBI profilers have, that ability to slip so into the mind of a criminal that I can almost feel it beneath the smallest swatch of index finger flesh.
I can understand the things that go bump in the night; the attraction of them; the allure of the damned.
For I have lost track of the body count, have lost the ability to say with certainty into whom in the unreal I have slipped the knife blade moments before in the real I have bowed with to pray.
You might be tempted to think of this as hypocrisy; but, you would be wrong.
I have already struggled in my life with wondering over that trickster cheat of the hypocrite, analyzing myself from every angle to try and figure out of that is why. But no, it is a much more insidious thing, it is the old evil that lurks within me, a power greater than can be simply communicated.
I may indeed be firmly grafted into the family of Christ, but my imagination remains in want and battle and strife for its own conversion. Talitha koum, o my mind. If only it were but His word, it should be different.
You might be tempted to tell me that I should pray, that I should quote Scripture to the darkness; you would be wrong.
For what is unseen by those who try to solve this sort of struggle with that sort of arsenal is that Scripture is not beyond the twisted claw of evil. Unto Jesus, Satan never says a false word. He quotes directly from the Scriptures. How he quotes makes the meaning untrue, makes it false, but do not be fooled into believing that a Bible verse alone turns away the Evil One.
Sometimes, if context is right, the subtle knife of Satan fillets away the one breath in the Scripture upon which the verse hangs, and the whole comes crashing down.
You might be tempted to tell me that I should identify triggers that cause these thoughts; you would be wrong.
There are no triggers to be found. In the midst of ingratiated goodness I can still set foot into the crevice of depravity and lose my footing. I, who write of forgiveness and beauty, am most ugly at times, even if only in flickers.
This is the dark I know well.
I do not desire your pity, but your grace in understanding. Would that you see me as I am: that it is because I am prone to bake for the hungry that I also can see myself stealing their last crumb of bread.
That this is why I have to keep One Thousand Gifts on my nightstand close, why I need written prayers, why I desire communities of Believers. Because without them, I don't simply become given over to my lusts, an evildoer among many. I become the leader. I become the chiefest among sinners.
I know evil. I know good. I too ate of that tree of our first parents in that garden.
It's my shame. It's my nakedness. That is, perhaps, the part of this you shall not know as well. The feeling of nakedness, of being naked and yet not entirely feeling shamed. Wondering why you don't always feel shamed. When you know, when it is most true and basic, that you should. The vulgarity of the heart. How it can frighten.
And it's lonely, this dark I know well. Because of course, you wouldn't necessarily know, unless I told you.
See me not as one who writes stories here in this blog space about all my merciful moments, but one who in spite of his very self shows mercy.
See me not as one who bows to the altar each Sunday out of reverence alone, but one who in spite of the evil body has longed for and given into, forces a return to the Lordship of Christ.
Batter my heart, three Person God.
Do not worry, for I am joyful. Do not worry, for I trust. Do not worry, for I have accepted the ache of this burden. I tell you that you should understand. For some, even shades of grey does not describe well the sliding scale of soul.
Because it's going to be about trust with me. That's what He's whispered into my valley. This valley. I must trust. In Him. In His getting me there, wounded and bloodied, up to the mercy of His altar.
Mine is the slow sanctification.
Any good I do, I tell you, this, surely, must be the slow working of the Holy Ghost, the catechism of an imagination.
Today, as I bake cakes for those in need of comfort. As I sit with friends who need to cry. As I open my own Bible. This is free choice, bound up in Christ, bound up in your presence, dear reader.
And this is why I will always love you. Fight for you. Do my best to stand with you. Because I need you more than you need me.
I need you, fellow Christian, because without you, the heart might lapse.
And this, friends, is simply a bit of imperfect prose.