Monday, November 19, 2012

The Unforgivable Sin

According to Christian Scripture, there is one unforgivable sin. I don't know where the Catholics get their thing about suicide, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the sin mentioned in Mark 3 and Matthew 12: "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit."

This isn't going to be a sermon, I promise. It's a metaphor. But give me a minute to lay the groundwork so it'll all make sense. I'm sure there are a number of ways to interpret this passage, but I heard a speaker once who explained it in a way I'll never forget. According to him, "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" isn't me saying, "Fuck you, Holy Spirit," or "You're the devil, Holy Spirit." Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is total and absolute rejection of the Holy Spirit.

So basically, the "unforgivable sin" is choosing to not be forgiven. And God just says, "Okay, if that's what you want... fine."

I have a friend that I've known for 21 years. She's going through a bad time right now. She feels really stressed and misunderstood. She also has this one fatal flaw: she can't forgive. If you do anything to make her feel slighted or hurt in any way, that's it. Unfriended. Deleted. Gone. No second chances.

I've danced a fine tightrope for 21 years. Once when we were ten-years-old we had an argument. We were swimming in the kiddie pool in her backyard, and I was instructed by my mother not to get my towel wet. She wanted to play mermaids using her towel as a "fin" over her legs and insisted I join her. When I refused, she pulled the towel in anyway. I was so furious, I left the towel and stormed home, barefoot and in nothing but my bathing suit, down hot asphalt and crunchy gravel driveways, until I finally made it home sobbing, and by the time I burst through the door my phone was already ringing and it was her on the other end, and we were both apologizing to each other, and the whole thing was funny and ridiculous, because of course something so stupid could never keep us from being friends.

But sixteen years later, I fear something so stupid has. It's a string of small stupid things - she feels that I purposefully left her out of trips and outings, that I've grown somehow "mean" (and it's true, I'm far more blunt than I used to be), and she has mistaken my concerned consultation with a mutual friend as some kind of disloyal plotting and backstabbing. I've written lengthy letters trying to defend myself, or at the very least explain my motives. I've made apologies, imploring and groveling even when, in all honesty, I'd much rather just smack some sense into the girl, because I know her, and I know that if I don't pull out all the stops, I'll lose her.

The only unforgivable sin is choosing not to be forgiven, but that's the only option she's left me with. I want to be her friend, but if she'll never extend pardon, if she'll never try to consider things from anyone's perspective but her own, if she'll never extend the kind of friendship she expects to receive, if she insists on clinging to her personal grievances instead of trying to push beyond them to a place of healing, then all I can do is mourn and move on and live my life without her.

It's weird losing someone to something other than death.

I think no matter how legitimate your cause, allowing anything to stand in the way of the transformative power of forgiveness and love is foolish and will only bring about your own destruction. That's pretty much my entire religion in a nutshell, from Lucifer's rebellion to Adam and Eve's disobedience to Christ's death and resurrection and return...

God could force us to obey him, but because he loves us he gives us the freedom to push him away. I want to shake sense into this girl, make her keep being my friend, make her somehow go back to the way we once were, but if this is what she's chosen, I have to respect that.

I have to allow her the freedom to choose her own destruction.


Sunday, November 18, 2012


I am sitting here in my room, and I wish I could post a picture of it. I suppose I could go through the hassle of snapping pics and loading them onto the computer and uploading them here, but I won't. You'll have to draw your own mental picture, using my words. The main gist of it is: I'm surrounded by books.

I'm back to living in my parents' house, and to give you an idea of how big the book thing has always been, there's this: I was given the room with the built-in desk and bookshelves, swapped it with my brother, because even as a ten-year-old I had too many books and they knew this would at least help solve some of the problem. So in addition to the six shelves up there - many of which were childhood books I loved and left here with my parents' permission when I moved out - I've also brought my apartment's worth of books back with me. I've got a five-shelf Ikea bookcase double-parked with books. I've got a little three-shelfer (four if you count the books stacked on top) leaning precariously against the wall below the window. I have to be careful not to move too quickly near that one or they could all come toppling off. I have another five-shelf Target one double-stacked. There are books heaped on my dresser top. Books on the little side table by my door. Books lining the back of my desk, leaving barely enough room for my computer to nestle in there. And those are just the ones I own. There are also the library books (thirteen right now), usually stacked on my bedside table, though currently I have them fanned out across my bed, because I'm trying to make a decision.

I don't know what to read.

That probably sounds decadent. It really is. There are actually a lot of books I know I want to read. I want to read Les Miserables before I see the movie in December. I've been meaning to read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone ever since I first heard of it. I'm eager to reread Cassie Clare's Mortal Instruments series ever since the movie teaser trailer came out. I have some philosophy books by Kierkegaard that have been calling my name for a while now.

But. But -

I pick one up. Start to read. Get maybe a few sentences in, sometimes a full chapter, before I realize something's wrong. It's terrible. And it's not the book itself that's terrible. It's that it's not right. It's that it's not what I want to read right now.

You know when you've got this craving, and you can't figure out what it is, and you stand in front of the pantry or refrigerator and you pick stuff up and keep saying, "Nope. Not it. Nuh-uh." You can tell all the things that aren't what you want, but you can't put a name to what it is you do want. I mean, obviously if you were genuinely starving you probably wouldn't care what you were eating. Anything would taste like deliciousness if you hadn't eaten for days. So the analogy breaks down.

But here's what I think. I think I can't figure out what book I want to read because I secretly know what book I want to read, and I can't read it. I can't read it because it hasn't been written yet.

I can't read it until I write it.


See, I like writing. But when I really care about something like I care about this story, it's scary and it's hard and there's too much pressure, and I can suddenly think of about a million other things I should be doing besides telling my story. I should be plotting out stuff for next year's Thirteen Days of Halloween. I should be reading so I can reach that goal of trying to read 100 books in a  year. I should be cleaning my room, paying my bills, taking a walk, watching that movie rental that's going to be due soon. I should check twitter/facebook/email/tumblr/insert-social-networking-tool-of-choice-here:____.  And all those things are good. They're great. They're important. But yet another day goes by and I haven't written a word, and then a day like this comes along - a perfectly normal day, but it's like something inside me just implodes. I went for a walk this afternoon, and something in me wanted to never stop walking, just keep going until I fell over from weariness, without any idea where I was or what would happen to me. Just go, go, go, go, go. Then I came in and was eating dinner with my folks and my mom asks me a completely ordinary question and I open my mouth to answer and I start to cry. And I can't pick a goddamn book to read when I'm swimming in an ocean of them.

And there are phrases that pop into my head at random.

I will fall away backwards up out of this world, and not a soul will miss me when I'm gone.

People recognize a vacuum, and naturally tend to gravitate away from it. That's why you're alone. 

There is a void that stretches like a promise, where no one knows my shadow or my name.

That last one is an old one, but it keeps coming back.

The only thing I know is that I'm going to try to write. That I'm going to spend the next few months trying to pay off my debts. And that by this time next year I want to be out of this town. I don't know where/why/how, but I'm leaving.

I love my family and what few friends I have, but other than them and a mountain of books, I've pretty much got nothing to lose.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Curse of NaNoWriMo

It's inevitable. I log in to my NaNoWriMo page, update my novel title, all ready for the new year to start.... and suddenly my mind becomes a prison. The story idea I was so excited about feels like a cage. Or worse, it's drab and flat and small and I can't do anything with it, and I write a dozen useless pages, stuff I'd be ashamed for anyone to read ever, stuff I don't enjoy at all, and why? Because I have to update my word count every day because that's the point of all this. So I churn out a mound of drivel just so I can say I'm writing something.

It's not fun. I feel cheap and stupid doing it. This isn't what I love about writing. I hate this. It makes me want to scream.

But every year I think it's going to be different. I get excited, because during the month of November, everybody's pumped about writing, the way I feel about it all the time. Many of my friends dive into their own creative projects. It's a wonderful sense of community. That's a great energy to be around.

But NaNoWriMo isn't for me. I've finally come to terms with that. I'll have to write my novel some other way.

Fuck you, word count widget.