Rebecca K. Reynolds

Honest Company for the Journey

Addiction to an Imagined World

Most people have an addiction of some sort: the internet, drugs, alcohol, food, anger, porn. Something to take the edge off the pain of getting stuck here.

My addiction is imagining an impossible ideal.

Sounds fake, but it’s absolutely not. My struggle is just as ugly and just as dangerous as anything I listed above.

Here’s how it works.

I live life with you in a real world. I love and tend the people before me. I fight for causes. I create in a tactile way. But I do all this with a backup life. I’m always keeping one or two lines open to an imaginary second reality where I can retreat when existence gets too heavy and too hard.

When I’m so lonely I can barely move, I go into the “What if these factors were different?” zone.  And I let those possibilities create an alternate reality—then I begin to walk toward it and sink into it.

There’s a scene in the movie Inception in which a room full of elderly dream addicts confuse real existence with their ideal communal dreams. They begin to see dreaming as primary and reality as secondary. And I can do that, too.

I don’t walk around drunk. I’m not hooking up with strangers on the sly. My BMI is super healthy. But internally, I run away.

And just like you don’t see the consequences of other addictions immediately, the long-term harm of “ideal addiction” only reveals itself over time.

If you are INFJ or INFP, our kin are particularly notorious for believing that “the ideal” is out there somewhere—we just need to find it. That impulse is what makes movies like Amelie charming or writing like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” relatable. But what looks sweet or human in art can get pretty ugly in real life.

Giggly infatuation with a witty, electric (though totally scripted) Pimpernel/Mauguerite dialogue can slowly form into a feeling of entitlement. We can start to believe, “My life is boring and empty. I deserve similar banter. Unless I have what I can imagine, I am dead inside.”

This resentful ache can grow inside until INF’s can begin to feel hopeless—until they spend a lot of the day checked out emotionally—until they stop trying to engage—until they survive by quietly tolerating.

As a result, gratitude disappears. True vulnerability retreats. We start to become impossible to truly know—which drives us further into the dream.

When I was much, much younger, B and I were having a pretty hard time of marriage. I won’t go into the details, but there were legitimate reasons for both of us to be tired and frustrated.

In the midst of this struggle, I received a piece of writing from a male friend.  It was powerful and nuanced, and it seemed to indicate tenderness toward me that took my breath away. I felt those words wash over me. I walked two miles holding it in my hands. I thought back over many, many other instances in which this person had laughed with me, worked with me, connected with me.

And as I reflected on all of this, and as I considered how hard things were at home, I sank into an all-consuming “What if?” That daydream was exciting and overwhelming, and I let this new, imaginary second world carry me for several DAYS while externally doing the tasks I needed to do to serve my family.

Finally, I had to tell B what I was struggling with. As mad as I was at him, I just couldn’t carry it alone. Slowly, this alternate reality died down into nothing. But over and again in my life, similar situations have occurred. And it hasn’t just hit in romance—this has happened in friendships, in work, in calling—in weird dreams about running off and creating a whole new life.

It can be triggered by blogs from wanderers and rebels. Blogs from artists and free spirits. People who live elsewhere doing better things than I do. People who have “the life I can only dream about.”

Today our family had a pretty big scare. I won’t go into the details, but I will say that for about three hours, I was thrown into a severe awareness that my painfully boring, everyday life is actually pretty, stinking beautiful.

During this event, my physical state was vulnerable—I was (literally) in the middle of an Appalachian forest, on a trail that was scary and empty, with only a kid beside me that I knew I couldn’t fully protect. I was looking for someone I couldn’t find and had no way of finding. And I was afraid this person was in danger.

At that moment, reality was acute and severe. I gripped my Mace, hoping for the best in the men who occasionally approached us. My legs shook with the rigor of the path—one incline was nearly straight up for perhaps 1/4 of a mile. My legs were trembling with fatigue, my heart was pounding, and I thought my lungs were going to explode. I didn’t know if tragedy awaited.  And I couldn’t stop.

The severity of that situation pushed me to talk to God like I haven’t in a long while. As I did so, I realized I’ve been kind of avoiding him— at least I’ve been avoiding certain conversations with him—because I’ve been angry that reality and my ideal don’t line up in some serious ways.

Strangely, in the hours leading up to this event, a friend had made me watch an interview with Eugene Peterson and Bono. As those two men talked about the Psalms, I realized that I have not made space to be emotionally present with God.

When I’ve been lonely, I haven’t written those severe feelings in honest appeals to the Lord. Instead, I’ve run into my imagination to medicate with fabricated impossibilities.

When I’ve felt doubt because of the duplicity of Christians in the world, I haven’t written those tremors to the Lord. I’ve run to humans (real and imaginary) and tried to find security in them instead.

Something about being out in the middle of a vast wood, panting, scared, trembling, weak stripped all that away. Imagination was no comfort in severity.

It was a terrible experience. It was also a critical experience.

Tonight I’ve been thinking a lot about the reality Jesus chose for his 33 years on planet earth. I’ve thought about the irritating people he found as companions.

Jesus was the one person who didn’t have to imagine the ideal—because he had been inside of it always. He knew utter perfection.

Then suddenly, he was thrown in the middle of a superstitious, disappointing lot of yahoos who couldn’t provide him any sort of true intellectual or spiritual companionship. People were stinky, greedy, messy, dumb. Local scenery was just meh. (At least from my perspective.)

And Jesus didn’t even wait until an era in which humans understood the scientific advances he’d planted into the world. He showed up smack in the middle of primitive life.

These were the people he loved and served every day. 

To get the strength for this, he prayed. He was honest with the Father.

Then he went into reality, believing those slow, uninteresting people he would encounter weren’t just secondary citizens but an exact selection of souls he was supposed to know face-to-face inside the whole of human history.

These were not the elite. Not the powerful. Not the witty. Not the stuff of dreams, but the stuff of fish boats and dusty roads. These were people who missed punchlines. People who dreamt small. People who wanted a free meal when the Bread of Life was walking in their midst.

“Who do I think I am?”

It clanged like a gong inside my chest after the crisis was over.

“Why am I so unwilling to be fully present?”

My addiction to imagining the ideal has sucked away so many psalms I’m way past due writing.

I’m falling asleep tonight feeling a little shy about that. Also, I’m a little excited that tomorrow would be a good day to start writing them.


 “Imagination’s Door” by Ronnie Landfield


June 20

Why the silence, O Lord?

Yet, in it

I am uncovering what I want to hear,

meeting my own lies face-to-face,

learning how I fill gaps with noise

and excuses,

discovering idols I construct in my sleep,

watching where I say, “No,

I am unwilling.”

For the silence exposes.

When I was young,

I crossed my heart, hoped to die,

and swore,

“I will follow you anywhere,”

imagining a firing squad or a den of lions.

Not silence.

And yet,

you who allowed formlessness and void

to steep for epochs perhaps

before speaking, “Let there be,”

prepares me.

Who, then, am I

to rush eternal gestation?

Who am I to command

the fingers of the Divine to knit me

more quickly in the soft, black, pink

of the soul’s womb?

Grow me then while I float,

kicking my heels,

in the muffled inner sanctum

of a God I cannot see.


Star Formulation in Tadpole Nebula, NASA

June 16

Whimsymaker, should you (like Pollock) spatter the universe

on the back of a swallowtail,

would I catch your wink

across the crowd?

Would I hold both my knees

in the understated privacy of a ratty,

small town concert hall—

minding the variation

on the theme—

letting the tension before the key shift

do its work?

Or would I beat my breasts at his torn,

feathered abdomen, digging around to get

the courage to end the life of a miracle suffering?

Will I only lament, accusing the Divine

of dropping us like a broken plaything—

leaving our trauma-busted heads and broken fingers to the winding down of our dirt selves?

Yet, there is a point in this green wood

where two lone streams converge—

where all the force of a paradox

rolls downhill to

make a happy chatter—

and I remember how faith breathes.

It inhales,

and it exhales.

It inhales, and it exhales.

Peace. Be still.


June 15

God, give me the humility

to tend from a small place—

to offer worn, indelicate hands—

to the labor of delivery.

If you show me a curl of hair

to turn from a tormented forehead,

make my fingers’ touch two seconds of respite—

even when there is no prospect

of being known, seen, or remembered—

though my touch breaks off from my person

and I begin and end this whole life

invisible as the wind that washes over

the delusions of a fever,

always give me the strength

to hold one more broken human

in these two human arms.

Though you are silent—

though you give me cold proofs while

refusing to show me

how you smell in the morning

and how you sound when you sing over the valleys—

though I am angry at the prospect

of years upon years of faith without sight when you have made me carry sentience and impulse—

though some of these humans you have made radiate

and I am tempted to kneel before them—

so that I might stare into the whole universe of two close eyes—

though you hide from me and test me—

at least make me brave enough

and kind enough

to bear the electric storm

of a heart that is not mine

to own.

For all you have not given me,

do this one thing.

I implore you.

Let kindness be my widow’s oil.

Open my fist grip (or dash the ribs of my chest)

if this great and holy novel you are writing

needs a Peggotty.

So be it.

Just give me the character to roll up the sleeves of an old work dress

and sink my hands in the water

to quietly wash one more set of dishes,

even when I can hear

the music of the ball next door.

When I feel faint from the hunger

of this faith you require—

when my knees and fingers shake while

looking through the bakery glass—

when I must whisper my own name

to remember what it sounds like—

when the hair I cut off

to give away leaves me nothing but

an old fool who knows the wrong books,

then take this fool’s skin and fill it

with new wine so that

when you turn me up

to the lips of the perishing,

their hearts will be made glad.


 “Man in a Room” by Rembrandt

I found a wild kitten lost in the woods

I found a wild kitten lost in the woods.

The top of one white paw was gone

revealing a splay of bones,

like four white rods of an automaton.

Her eyes were shut. Her mouth was tight.

She swayed in pain, holding the front leg in the air—

a gesture of trust? I stepped forward and

saw she was dying.

When I conceived that first child, I did not know

that the hand of God stitching a single cell

into the deep, secret pink folds of my uterus

would change me forever—would stitch some sort of thread

from the base of my diaphram

to the abandoned fawn sucking on my leg—

to four clay-buried, hot, fertile eggs of a red-eared slider—

to this wee kitten who hissed without opening her eyes.

I lost that baby, but I did not lose maternity—

I did not lose the instinct to make room on my chest

for every rooting, dying thing. God, that little cry.

God, oh God.

When my milk came in,

when there was no child to take it,

I felt it burst and run hot over my empty belly;

I held out my arms to the world and said,

“But, I am a mother.”

And the house was silent.

Today I found the same two rangers

who had promised to help

looking for the kitten.

They had let nature take its course,

like men so often do.

They recognized me and flinched.

“Absolvo,” I said,

though the wood smelled of death.

A light rain fell across their jacket shoulders,

tittering on the broad summer leaves above them.

Here were two grown men with boy faces,

wearing leather gloves,

and carrying a white garbage bag.

They were searching intentionally now,

looking through all the undergrowth,

for her body.

I put my head down, walked on in silence,

waited till I got around the bend to choke—to gasp.

I felt the earth spin; I reached my hands wide;

I stood still,

surrounded by a bird song requiem.

Brahms wrote for the living, not the dead—

and that is faith, I suppose—

granting the minor key its measures

then pulling out of it—

believing there is resolve to the dissonance

of all that dies lonely and lost

in a miscarrying world.

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A prayer

Lord, I give you the interpretations I have created to manage pain.

Every villain I have reduced is known in complexity by you. You alone are fair.

I have sub-created a grand story so that I might survive the constant ache in my chest.

I have flattened and compressed the past out of self defense.

I have set up a framework that has justified my yank at the reins.

I have allowed my loneliness to accuse.

But you see with utter clarity.

The past I’ve commandeered is yours.

Show me what to believe.

“On a Ten Scale”

When we first got married, I was dumb enough to ask my husband a question no wife should ever ask—and he was dumb enough to answer honestly.

I had enough close man friends to know that guys (even Christian guys) often rank women on a scale of 1-10, and I wanted to know where I stood.

By nature, I’m the sort who constantly assesses data. Somehow knowing the absolute truth (good news or bad) felt like a responsible part of being a woman on planet earth. I knew that if I assumed too high, I could end up going out on a limb and looking like a fool. Too low, and I wouldn’t maximize my potential leverage as a female in culture—a capacity too often limited by a woman’s physical appearance.

So, I caught my poor young husband at a vulnerable moment and made him nail down a number. I’m not going to tell you what he said. I will tell you that the number did something permanent inside me.

I considered it generous. Took a deep breath. And from that point onward, I embraced it as cold, hard fact.

I would look at other women and think about what their number was, then I would think of my own. I don’t remember thinking ill of those who might fall lower. I do remember feeling a need to defer to those who would rank higher.

Because I’m a visual artist, I had pretty strong ability to look at my essential features and know what could and couldn’t be changed about me. Working out is good, getting a tan is nice, but I knew none of this would bump me up more than half a point or point. I had certain limitations effort couldn’t negate. No matter what effort I put into my hair or clothes, there would always be a woman who could slip on a pair of denim shorts and an old t-shirt, throw her hair in a pony tail, and still be a 10. And she would have more power because of this.

Eventually, I looked out into the world and decided what I could and couldn’t do—what I could and couldn’t be—within the parameters of my number. As a female, I could be respectable but not powerful. I could be beneficial but not moving. I could be a companion but not a muse.

I watched from the sidelines and noticed how other men treated men with 5’2”, blonde trophy wives. I watched how a woman’s number played out in a thousand scenarios—like a meeting I attended with hospital executives. Another woman and I entered a room full of men. She was shorter. Blonde. Cute. Her number would have been at least three points higher than mine.

I don’t remember what compliments those men lavished upon her. I do remember her smiling like someone who got the same response everywhere, and also that awful next moment when an older male friend was sensitive enough realize nobody had said anything so complimentary to me. He spoke up with a sincere-sounding but obligatory, “And you, too.” The other men mumbled in polite agreement, realizing their error. I wanted to sink through the floor.

Now that I’m older, different numbers seem to matter more. In artistic community, some writers are 10s. When their names are mentioned, a flurry of affirmations naturally rises.

They seem to be effortlessly relevant. Restrained on social media. Vulnerable yes, but in attractive, careful ways. The look. The credentials. The eloquence. They read what’s just right. They go places and post pictures that seem like snapshots of fullness.

All their pieces fit together into a balanced whole. They are welcomed into forums. They are invited to travel and speak.

And there’s a fraternity to it all. Tens recognize one another at events and take pictures together because there’s a mutual respect and trust among them.

My writer number is similar to the rank I held for a long time as a female. I’m not a big deal. I’m fairly respectable, but I’m not powerful. I’m sometimes beneficial but not culture moving. I’m a companion to a few but not a muse for a movement.

My personality is awkward in some ways branding can’t fix. I’ll never be Nashville relevant.

And, it’s funny, I still feel the same old embarrassment I felt over other limitations. I show people a little bit of me. Then, as I look out into the world and see writers with magnificent minds, and vast stores of deep knowledge, and experiences that I will never be able to reference, I regret the foolish clank of my two mites thrown in a pot, and I want to run and hide away in shame.

“What do you have to offer?” I hear whispered from the darkness.

Reality burns, so I retreat and back off and watch from a distance while those who are clearly made for influential community get out there and run in packs.

They will know what to say. They will know how to say it.

“Who do you think you are?” A second accusation hits out of the silence.

When the Bible talks about boasting in our weakness, I always assume it means weaknesses like a 5’2” blonde cutie with a pimple on her perfect nose. Or, I assume it means the scholar-writer with razor wit who goes to edgy coffee shops and live concerts while wearing the jeans-du-jour—but dropped his journal in the trash by mistake.

A doll with a blemish. An icon who fumbled.

Not people like me. Not the ones who will never even get in the B range. Out of self-defense, I want to assess reality, absorb the blow of my limitations, and live invisible.

But this morning, after finishing one of my regular deletion frenzies, feeling stupid for reaching out and believing my words mattered, I felt a hot rumble in my soul. “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Humans rank humans. Humans rank, and rank, and rank humans. The Bible tells me so. There are things man “looks at,” and there are assessments that rule culture—and I am barely passing on any of those standards.

But here in the quiet, God kicks away all constructs.  The physical beauty that never was high enough. The relevance that never hit hip. The little habits and preferences known by gentility but not to someone like me. The intelligence that never reached brilliance. The numbers, the brackets, the everything I’m not.

There’s something beyond all this God sees, knows, values—even loves. He treasures me, and it’s the oddest thing in the world to believe that. He sees worth in my receptivity. That’s enough for the God who made an entire universe out of nothing.

Edvard Munch  Femme á sa toilette , 1892.

Edvard Munch Femme á sa toilette, 1892.

“The Snap of Thanos and the God Who Flooded Humanity”

If you haven’t seen Endgame, stop reading now.  I’ll try not to post any spoilers until I get a few paragraphs deep, but I am eventually going to drop a few. Consider yourselves forewarned.

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So, I loved Endgame. I laughed, I cried, I clapped and shouted, “No!” in the theater. Just behind Shazam, the multiverse Spiderman, and Wonder Woman, Endgame falls right in line with my top superhero movies of all time.

The CGI battle scenes were try-not-to-stand-on-the-theater-seat epic. Relational tension and resolve were near perfection, considering the genre and backstories. 

Watching what time does to human hearts broken by failure, loss, and disillusionment felt honest. What do we do when it all falls apart? Some of us organize. Some of us hide and drink. Some of us join support groups. Some of us let the anger of losing it all drive us to destroy.

I loved the camaraderie of a risk-it-all fellowship; the fierce determination of a band of women standing firm and proclaiming, “Just so you know, she has backup”; the way best friends fight to beat each other to die for each other.

The end... well, the end broke my heart because “that guy” has always been my favorite superhero. I didn’t cry during, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.” This one— this one hurt. I’m still not okay about it.

Despite all this, Endgame dug a little too deep into the Mines of Moria for me, unearthing an ache that probably bears discussion. Actually, I almost wrote about this after seeing Infinity War, but I decided to wait and see how EG turned out. Now I know.

Before I hit on this, though, please understand what I’m not saying. I’m not saying the movie is bad. I’m not saying the movie is anti-Christian propaganda or that masses of people should protest it, or anything of the sort. I’m writing about this confessionally—like I might write about a classic book like 1984 or a classic movie like the 1968 Planet of the Apes—both of which I love.  I’m saying, “What’s here? Why is it here? What does this film reveal about my own fears, wounds, and suspicions and those of our present culture?” This post is exploratory, not condemning. It asks what we can learn from a flicker on the screen of the human consciousness.

For a couple of years, friends (like David Mitchel) and I have been talking about how the greatest opposing force facing modern Christianity isn’t obvious evil. Our fiercest opponent is human morality that considers itself superior to the morality of God.

Chesterton wrote about the danger of virtues splitting off and separating from their core a hundred years ago, and his warning has come to fruition in 2019. Nobody cares about Nietzsche’s “God is dead” these days. The resistance of our time isn’t atheistic but accusatory. It points a finger and says, “That God is immoral.”

“After all, he commanded certain people to be stoned for hundreds of years.”

“After all, he commanded women to sit outside their own community during their monthly periods.”

“After all, he rained down fire, and caused horrible plagues, and slaughtered firstborn babies.”

“After all, he lets people go into eternal torment if they don’t check off the right belief box before they croak.”

“After all, he snapped his fingers and, ‘Poof,’ he turned all the people of the world to dust except for a single family in a boat—hoping to reboot a broken, self-destructive world.”

Sound familiar?

The first time I read 1984, I broke out into a cold sweat when I read about Big Brother’s demand for love instead of mere obedience. I could feel the theological tension. Whether Orwell meant it or not, the soteriological parallel nearly choked me—the severity of an impossible dilemma: either learn to feel devotion from the heart or experience endless torment. There is no middle ground.

I was horrified. Paralyzed.

I felt something similar watching Thanos.

My soul began to cry out, “Who? Who has the right to eliminate so much of the population, simply because he sees how broken it is?”

Then, in the dark of that theater, my second sight flashed with a Citizen Kane newsreel. I saw human masses drowned by a global flood. I saw entire cities obliterated by fiery hail. I saw Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt.

Before me roared Thanos with a cruel hand wrapped around the neck of Nebula, that quivering daughter who is never good enough. He demands utter allegiance or else...or else...

Pulling the blanket I always carry into the theater up around my neck, overcome by the cold fear of God, I shivered.

I say “cold fear” because this sensation is very different from what I call the “hot fear” of God. The cold fear of God is the stuff of my nightmares—not the stuff of my worship.

The cold fear of God whispers that he is demanding, detached, and heartless.

The cold fear of God whispers that he is egotistical, demanding allegiance at the cost of the eternal suffering of his lessers.

The cold fear of God whispers that he has a favorite daughter, and I will never be she—no matter what I sacrifice.

The cold fear of God whispers that his goodness isn’t really good—that he is an alien force who sits with mad patience on a distant rock, churning over a skewed ethic, and counting down the seconds until he can snap us all to dust.

I don’t know if there will be a literal Rapture. Most of my friends think this concept was invented by John Darby in the 1800’s. I don’t really agree with them because I’ve read stuff that makes me think otherwise, but I’m also not fully on board with the pretribbers. In this age where everybody is sure about everything, I don’t know this. I’ll have to study more to figure out where I stand.

But after watching Infinity War, I realized that if such a thing ever should happen, it will be interpreted by those who remain as the work of a Thanos-type power. It will make resistance seem just. It will rally the troops, spiritual and earthly, and as they attempt to defy the “One Who Removed,” they will feel noble and right.

My family kept asking me why I was so quiet on the ride home. This is why.

I didn’t want to talk about it yet.

I needed time for the hot fear of God to replace the cold.

Sitting in that theater, I felt the recurrence of the Edenic slither, I heard the echo of, “Eve, hath God really said,” and the, “Don’t you want to be like God?”

“After all, Eve, you could do this so much better.”

So I needed time to back away from the CGI—the portals—the shining powers—the glorious masses of Wakanda—time to shake off the roar of a thousand secondary virtues that work within a 3-hour redemption plot and spend time with Virtue Proper. 

I needed to find the metanarrative within which all lesser narratives live, straining and reaching for what will only be revealed in full in the final “Ah-ha!”

I needed to bathe my own battle wounds—wounds of suspicion and accusation of the divine—in the blood of the God who not only has a moral right to remove life but who  spread a glove full of Infinity stones wide and allowed humanity drive a hard stake right through it.

I needed to remember that he will not break a bruised reed. I needed to remember how he knelt to wash the feet of fishermen. I needed to remember how prostitutes, and children, and thieves were drawn to his gentleness. I needed to remember that the groves were his first temples. I needed to remember that his mercies are new every morning.

I needed the hot and holy fear that warms me like a fire—the fear that is the true beginning of wisdom—the fear that roots itself in ethos not just logos—the fear that is more awe than terror—the fear that entails a clear and honest vision of my own limitations more than paranoia over a cage full of rats.

I needed the fear that says, “Good emanates from You, Oh Lord. It is not the sum total of all human virtues.”

I needed a paradox that can never be caught in a straw man. I needed the complexity of a living Person.  I needed the magnitude of Job 38:

“Brace yourself like a man;

    I will question you,

    and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

    Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

    or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

    and all the angels shouted for joy?”

I needed to remember the trilliums that bloom in the mountains.

I needed to remember the deep-forest birth of a doe who will never be seen by the eyes of a human.

I needed to remember the Story before all stories.

I needed to see a glimpse of a God whose ways are incomprehensible at times, who does not fit neatly into a Jungian archetype, nor into one of Vladimir Propp’s file folders, nor into one of Joseph Campbell’s reductions—but a God who cannot be deconstructed on a dissection table by Turgenev’s Bazarov, then boxed in to some mad “Other.”

No genus. No species. He is what he is. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.

Behold the holy severity and the paternal tenderness of a Living God.

I do not understand all of the hard things done by my Lord, but I do understand this. For of all the things he could have done with the darkness of the heart of humanity, he chose to be born among simple people and beasts of burden. He chose to be despised, to allow himself to be beaten, to allow himself to be stretched out and nailed to a cross so that people like you and me might have life.

Then he said, “Take this gift I give you. Take it quickly to all the earth, and offer it to everybody you see. Throw it like silver dollars from a parade float. Distribute it like antivenin. Go. Go. Go. Give it away, and give it away again, and give yourselves as I give to you, so that as humanity self-destructs, it might instead have life and have it abundantly.”

This was the cosmic snap. The snap of a God allowing himself to be stuffed into a tomb that became a portal for everyone you know.

Then I saw the whole thing more clearly.

God is not Thanos.

Thanos is the work of governments deciding which lives are not worth living. Thanos is the work of governments deciding which lives are not worth protecting.

Thanos is the work of governments crawling in bed with men who prostitute imitations of religion to maneuver the masses. Thanos is every alternative human morality that says, “We will be like God without God.”

At this, I feel my spirit kneel in wonder, as the illusion slowly turns inside out. Sweet, hot fear chases away the cold, burning away my suspicion and resistance.

This is not a forced love. This is a human looking into the white hot center of the universe and seeing that it shines, and simply calling light light.

All things hold together in him. All things. When the serpentine cold fear returns—when I listen to, “He doesn’t want you to know good from evil, see?”—when I place him in the dock as a suspect—I forget the evidence. My name is carved into his hands. When he had the chance to take it all, he gave to us instead.


​Seventh Grade Grammar and a Gillette Ad about “Toxic Masculinity”

Twitter is full of fury today, claiming Gillette’s ad about “toxic masculinity” is an attack against men in general. However, applying basic, seventh grade grammar shows why this accusation is illogical.

In Gillette’s ad, “toxic” is an adjective modifying the noun “masculinity.” By definition, adjectives distinguish a noun’s type.

By using an adjective+noun construction, Gillette was specifying which sort of masculinity is harmful.

If you will look at the photo included with this post, you will see how switching an adjective changes the noun. Gillette’s ad compares toxic masculinity with healthy masculinity. It calls America to the latter.

Gillette is not demeaning masculinity in general. It’s not accusing all men of being monsters.

It is asking our nation to grow a healthy masculinity—one that protects others with strength instead of harming or using them.

Hopefully this week’s brouhaha is a simply result of a gross misunderstanding, another knee-jerk in a trigger-happy world primed to rage. From what I’ve read on social media, it seems like a lot of folks misread the title, made assumptions, and roared before thinking. While America is top-down full of sloppy, reactive Tweeters, I can’t quite believe we want our men to be violent, disrespectful abusers. Surely, we’re better than that.



Maybe Jesus wants you to be a little chubby

with a yard sale coffee table.

Back when he was knitting you together

inside your momma’s tummy

(decorating her like he decorated the Virgin Mary,

with holy stretch marks and a bonus layer

of blessed belly fat),

perhaps he had a plan for you

to grow up to be strong instead of just skinny.

Maybe the Good Lord knew that So-and-So

would shut you out

(or shut you down) if you were

one more double-zero for Jesus.

Maybe in the endless scope of eternal souls,

he had a reason for hovering over the darkness

and planting his voice

in the precise size of you.

Consider the remote possibility

that God didn’t mess up when he made you.

Consider the remote possibility that a perfect God

made you the exact sort of perfect you are

so that you could hold up your head and walk

like a daughter of the King.

What if he looked down on

a world hooked on porn and little butts in yoga pants

and said, “My daughter will teach them

how dignity looks.”

Perhaps he called you to wipe the tears of

women who hate themselves,

women who step on the scales every morning

and measure their worth in pounds of dirt.

And while we’re at it,

maybe that $10 beat-up coffee table

is part of the plan, too.

Maybe Mrs. Instagram-with-everything-new

needs to sit on your worn out old couch for an hour

and see how comfortable you are with the world to come.

Maybe she needs to cook with you

on your 1980’s linoleum floor,

sticking her finger in the batter of the flavor of joy

you can only whip up in a room just like that.

Maybe you’re not all wrong but all right--

and not just all right but just perfect

for this moment right now,

called by God to believe only

that he has a plan for the you

you already are.

photo credit cohdra, morguefile

photo credit cohdra, morguefile