Swapping “bitter” for “better”…

It’s your final dinner on earth; who do you invite?

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Bob Goff, one of my favorite writers, tweeted his thoughts on the Last Supper this morning. It’s Maundy Thursday for Christians and marks the new commandment we were given as Jesus shared a final dinner with His closest friends, including the one who would betray Him, prior to taking the death that we deserved. (I know I am going to lose some of you right here; I’d love it if you’d stick with me but that’s entirely up to you.)

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34)

I don’t know how that whole “love each other” (and He meant ALL of the each others – not just the ones that look, speak, believe, think, vote like us – ALL of the each others) thing is working out for you but I can say that I’ve got a little (a lot) of work to do in that area. I’ve had some crappy self-talk over the last few days which has led to me loving my fellow humans less, too. We’re on spring break this week. No trip to the beach to post all over social media because golf tourneys make vacations super hard to schedule. My Fave spread his vacation days across the golf calendar so he’d be able to catch as much of the boys playing as he could. Other than J & C sleeping in until it’s time to go to the golf course, I can’t say this week feels much different than any other week. And I’m kind of feeling ugly about it. Bitter would be the right word and right there is the perfect breeding ground for me being less than the best version of me.

12346930-6927801-image-m-135_1555424529137As the world watched Paris’ Notre Dame burn earlier in the week and looked in horror as its spire collapsed, I wondered how such an event could happen during the most Holy Week of the year for Christians. Beyond it being an incredible work of art and architecture that has lasted more than 850 years and survived multiple wars, it’s a sacred place for Christians all over the world. As pictures of the destruction emerged, the answer to “How could this happen this week?” became clear: the enemy had taken a shot at His followers during their most sacred week but once the smoke cleared and pictures of the remains were shared, we’d see that once again death had no sting. An unscathed Cross and Pieta at its foot along with the candles that surround both and stained glass that floods it all in glorious light somehow survived. I had some serious, “Hey death, where’s your sting now? My God is way bigger than you, loser!” moments; humans being human squashed my elation quickly.

The ugliness of people has poked at me over the past few days. My reaction to them feels judgmental (because it is) which deepens my guilt, that feeds the voices I battle daily and makes me like people less and veer into an ugly that I “share” with others because if I’m going to be miserable, I’m not going to do it alone. The leaders of our city, state and country that act like anything but leaders. The reaction to the money raised to rebuild Notre Dame but not given to a zillion other causes. The need for people to create fights where they don’t exist by finding away to insert their agenda into anything and everything. Having celebrity after celebrity feel the need to show more and more skin on platforms that women, young and old, sadly look to as a gauge for our own self-worth. The outcry over what a batter did with a bat and the bench clearing brawl that followed. For some reason the way that we all treat each other and the garbage we are willing to give energy to has just gotten to me this week. My psychiatrist has assured me that “normal” people get exhausted by people too and, that just because it happened in the past, these intense emotions don’t mean my spiral into the dark hole is coming.

The panic attack that hit yesterday, the first I’ve had in nearly a month, had me questioning her assurance. I’d been home alone most of the day, getting stuff done, my mind was fairly clear. I was wishing I was on a beach somewhere but not consumed by it. In the moment, even hour, that followed the attack, I couldn’t place what prompted it. It felt so out of left field because while people have exhausted me this week, I’ve functioned pretty “normally”. When My Fave called to chat, I didn’t tell him I was “having a moment”. With all good intentions, “Do you know why? Can I do anything?” follow and I have no answers that sound remotely sane, so I just didn’t tell him. When I walked into my massage therapy appointment last night, I was so grateful to be able to say, “It’s been a day and I don’t know why and I hate it.” M, the miracle worker that keeps me walking, is seriously underpaid; my massages aren’t usually quiet, zone out sessions; we chat and vent and laugh and cry. It was a much needed hour to work through my “I just can’t handle people.”

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Photo credit: Mantraband

As I was leaving, something in our conversation revealed the moment my panic attack hit. A manhunt, the media’s word not mine, had been happening for an 18 year old girl (she’s not a woman at 18; she has a partially developed brain until between 23 and 25; save it) from Florida who was obsessed with the shooting at Columbine High School that took place nearly 20 years ago. There was immense concern she was planning an attack on schools in Colorado, prompting them to cancel classes until they found her. As the search continued, her story began to come to light. I’m no psychiatrist, but clearly this girl wasn’t well. It seemed no one knew or put all of the pieces together. There was relief when they found her in Colorado yesterday. There was further relief, for some, when her being found meant she was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I understand the feeling of relief because she is no longer a threat to others. What hurts my soul is that people think people like her (and me and many others) are expendable because if we weed ourselves out then we can’t hurt other people. I realize that sounds irrational but when I hear of a human who quit life because their illness lied to them and wouldn’t let them reach out to get the help they needed, the illness in my own head feels like it just scored a point in my own game of life.

“It is when our hearts are stirred that we become most aware of what they contain.” (Andy Stanley)

Here we are; Maundy Thursday and a commandment to love others as He loved us. Tomorrow will mark the day the intensity of His love for me, you, us would be put on full display. He’d give us a clear example of the kind of love He commanded we show each other. It’s the kind of love that means we’re willing to put our comfort, safety, reputation, agenda, power, position in life on the line for someone else, “enemies” included. And the story of His great love includes an epic defeat of the grave. Love God. Love people. Death has no power over that kind of love.

“We spend a lot of time remembering failures God spent a lot of love saying we could forget.” (Bob Goff)

So who would I invite to my last meal? Among my family and friends, I’d invite two strangers: the 18 year old who quit life in the woods of Colorado yesterday and the woman on Twitter who declared it to be “Good riddance.”; they might find out that they like each other. In the end, all we have is love. A love so intense that it allows life to be lived free of our failures and with the purpose the author of humanity intended. A love that can bridge the chasms of fear and misunderstanding. A love that made clear the enemy holds no power over those who accept the love offered to them. A love that defeated the grave. A love that says we can swap “bitter” feelings we have about ourselves and others for “better” versions of ourselves. That’s the kind of love that changed the world 2,000 years ago; I believe it still can.

“Love strong. Because you were first loved. Because without love we all perish. Because the earth and the stars can and will pass away, but love, love will always remain.” (O God Forgive Us, For King and Country)

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