jesus

Monday of Holy Week: When the Truth Bomb is Ticking in Your Hand

Joy Division, Hell, Crosses, and Letting Our Kids Go, by Erin McCole Cupp #7qt

I’m not a doctor or mental health professional of any kind, so read this accordingly, but the longer I seek healing for the damage my childhood left on me, the more I realize that I grew up surrounded by narcissistic and borderline personalities.  Do you know what happens when you tell a narcissist or someone with BPD that he or she is wrong? That he or she is hurting someone else, especially the source of that person’s narcissistic supply? An explosion happens.  The narcissist being confronted with his or her imperfections is Ground Zero. The shrapnel flies outward from the narcissist and hits the other person—the person who is already hurt.

This happens because narcissists are so fragile in their self-image that any hint that they aren’t perfect is so very, deeply painful.  The same goes for BPD. Somewhere along the line, these people picked up the idea that they’d be abandoned if they don’t produce perfection. The challenge is that, while someone with that feeling could have chosen the (still-destructive, don’t get me wrong) path to perfectionism, the NPD or the BPD person is internally compelled to lash out at anyone who suggests he or she might be wrong, might not be worthy of constant attention, affirmation, and adoration.

They’re so afraid of being hurt themselves, that they’ll protect their fragility at any cost. Any cost—as long as it doesn’t feel like it’s coming from their own pockets.

In today’s gospel reading, for Monday of Holy Week in Year B, Jesus and the apostles are at Lazarus’s house for a celebratory dinner, old Laz being non-dead and all.  Lazarus’s sister Mary shows her gratitude by cracking a jar of super-expensive, scented ointment onto Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair.  Judas, of course, doesn’t see a thank you gift for Jesus.  He only sees what he thinks he’s not getting for himself.

Then Judas Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said, ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions.

How many things do people demand in the name of “the poor,” when really we just want someone else to make us feel rich? This springs from a lack of gratitude stirred up by a guilty conscience.  We seek to discredit people who remind us that we do bad things, so we trash the good things they do. Moreover, we trash the people who are doing good things or receiving good things, because they remind us we could do good things, too, but good for others, we fear, takes away from good for ourselves.

We’re not just talking Judas here.  Offing Jesus wasn’t enough.  The chief priests wanted Lazarus dead, too.

So Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’

Once again, Mary chooses the better portion.  Once again, Jesus defends not himself but another. He knows what’s coming.  He knows that He’s about to drop the biggest truth bomb of all time on some pretty earthly-powerful narcissists, and He knows which way those explosions go.

He knows they’re so afraid of the truth that they’ll cut down any mouth that speaks it.  He knows the pain of anyone who’s ever confronted a narcissist.

This is the fear that I have, whenever I think of life-giving legislation coming down into our culture, as it stands right now. I don’t fear humans being treated justly; I fear the people who are so afraid of that justice that they’ll protect their own perceived fragility at any cost—any cost at all. It’s the same fear I feel when I think and pray over going to court over crimes committed against me.  Honey, I do not want to be that close to Ground Zero, not when I’m the one lobbing the truth bomb.

And this year, through this morning’s lectio divina, I discovered that Jesus himself was no stranger to that fear.  It was the fear that sweat blood in the Garden of Olives. Of course, it was a fear that Truth could face down, suffer through, and rise above.

And this is very likely my biggest cross, my biggest cup to drink.  What is yours? Narcissist or victim, you still have a cross.

If you’re, like me, afraid of the backlash of any truth bombs that have been placed in your care… I have no answers beyond those Jesus gave us: to take up our crosses—our heavy, heavy crosses—and follow Him.

If you’re convincing yourself that the best way to peace is to cut off someone else, you’re not seeking peace. Don’t blow out someone else’s candle and expect more light from yours. If you’re like Judas and the chief priests, you have a cross, too. Your cross is whatever truth bomb you’re avoiding.

The Good News? Jesus is offering you the same resurrection that He offers everyone else.  You can be made perfect, if you’ll let Him.

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Image and Likeness Launch Day

At last, today is the day I’ve had in mind for nearly three years, when Ellen Gable first asked me if I had anything that might work for an anthology of Theology of the Body short stories.

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body available from FQP. See St. John Paul II's teachings on the meaning of human love in a whole new way. #shortreads #poetry #fiction #TOB

As I’d warned a few weeks ago, I’ve been spending most of my time on the Image and Likeness page.  Here, however, is where I get to speak not as an editor representing the whole work and all the authors whose pieces appear within the collection.  Here’s my author page, where I get to speak as just another author who has stories to tell, two of which got caught up in this anthology.

I’ve been working pretty hard.  I’m wondering if, in the world’s eyes, I’m working “smart.”  Am I working in a way that will give me some sort of return on investment?  I’ve poured a lot of time into this anthology, maybe even a bit of my health.  Will it be worth it? Will I break even in some fashion?

I don’t know.  I’ve done as many of the supposedtas as I possibly can, just as I have for all my other books.  Only this time I also have a troupe of other authors reminding me of all the supposedtas, giving me more, and correcting me when I fall short.  (BTW, that was not a type of pressure I anticipated coming into this project.  It’s been humbling, which is never a bad thing.)

Am I just selling stuff very few people want to hear? Nobody wants to hear that birth control might actually kill you.  Nobody wants to hear that we shouldn’t farm people.  And people aren’t exactly lining up to read that Mary, the Mother of God, was so much like us that it gives us very few excuses to pity ourselves.  Why should they hand over their cold, hard cash to find out that abortion just might be destroying people, that our definition of “love” might be pretty badly tweaked, that marriage is so bloody difficult even when your bodies do have corresponding shapes?

I mean, seriously, why? Who’s gonna fork over the Washingtons and the Lincolns to have someone point out that… they just might be wrong?  And hurting other people?  And hurting themselves?

Who?

Man, life is hard.  Writing is even harder.  Writing warning signs, “HEY, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DRIVE OFF A CLIFF INTO THE VERY MAW OF HELL, SO STOP DRIVING THAT DIRECTION, OKAY?” is hard: making the signs good, and true, and beautiful, knowing they’re so very likely to be ignored.  Every day as a Catholic writer is a bit of the Agony in the Garden.  I’ve heard it said that Jesus wasn’t sweating blood because he was afraid of the pain of the crucifixion.  No, he was sweating blood in Gethsemane because he knew, he knew and loved every single soul who would know of His sacrifice… and who wouldn’t give a crap about it and prefer to just die anyway.

It’s so easy to get sucked into that maelstrom, to stay in that garden and keep sweating blood.  It’s a heck of a lot harder to look for the consoling angels and listen to them and focus on those who will listen and care and let their own hearts break, too.

But broken hearts let in so much light.

If you have let your heart be broken along with mine, if you have been one of my consoling angels, I thank you.  From the bottom of my broken, tired heart, I thank you.  Let’s keep writing the good fight.

If Jesus, the Lord of the Universe, lifted His head and carried His cross, then I have no excuse not to do likewise.  Thank you for walking with me.  Thank you for reading my signs.  Thank you for standing behind me in the garden, helping me to go on.

That return on investment isn’t on this side of the cross, anyway.


Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body is officially available today.

You are invited to attend the IAL Launch Party on Facebook on October 27, 2016 from 8-10pm Eastern Time.

Stand up for the unborn? I can’t even stand up for myself! {7QT}

Seven Quick Takes Linkup

It’s that time again: Seven Quick Takes Friday over at This Ain’t the Lyceum

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It’s the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Decision.

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Within the past 12 hours I’ve found myself in a situation where I either need to stand up for myself or lose a significant amount of money (money we paid to support a family member in an artistic endeavor when we could’ve spent it on, you know, replacing a couple of bald tires) in order to avoid having to rub elbows with my primary abuser for four-ish hours.

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One of the reasons I think abortion is still a thing is because we women keep being told, “You can’t do that.  It’s too hard.”

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Stand up to my abuser and tell her to leave me alone? Again? Because the first several times and some help from the police didn’t take?

I don’t understand why I have to.

In other words… I can’t do that.  It’s too hard.

-5-

If you’re inclined to say, “I could never _____” [have an abortion, steal a car, go bungee jumping, eat sushi, whathaveyou], then there’s some part of your heart that is hardened against mercy towards those who could.

Seeing someone through the eyes of mercy is not the same as condoning sin, however great that sin might be.

Seeing someone through the eyes of mercy is how God sees each one of us.

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 I did nothing to put myself in my current conundrum other than maintain contact with someone who doesn’t really care about keeping me safe.

I feel alone, trapped, and helpless.  Again.

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Alone, trapped, and helpless is how women facing unplanned pregnancies feel.

It’s an old Method Acting trick, but I think it’s one we could all use as we walk the boards of real life:

  1. See another character experiencing something you’ve never experienced, never understood.
  2. Identify the underlying feelings that character is experiencing.
  3. Identify a time in your own life when you experienced those same emotions.

And walk forth with mercy.

I wish someone would stand up for me, say they’ll fight my demons for me.

I’m sure women considering abortion wish someone would stand up for them.

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Why don’t people see that that’s what happens at the March for Life? Any time someone posts a pro-life meme on social media? Any time someone offers abortion workers a way out? Women a way out? Any time someone stands outside a clinic and prays for her to be braver than she ever thought she could?  Any time someone says, “Hey, you know all those chemicals and all that debris you’re putting into your body to make it malfunction? Maybe there’s a less self-destructive way to handle that.

I never very rarely put stuff like this on my blog.  Or anywhere.  You know why? Because I’ve been taught through experience that nobody listens to me.  That nobody cares if I’ve been hurt, because that’ll make the people who hurt me feel uncomfortable.  You know what I grew up with?

“Ouch! That hurts!”

“No, it doesn’t.”

 

Satan has put a lot of energy and destroyed a lot of lives to convince me that I’m not credible enough to stand up for anyone–especially myself.

Then again… Jesus didn’t stand up for himself.

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He asks others to stand up for Him by standing up for the least of these.  

He asks us to stand up for each other.  

Please pray that I can receive the courage to stand up for those who need me.

Please pray that those who need it would receive the courage to stand up for me.

And I will pray for you to have the courage to stand up where you are called and for you to walk in the mercy you need to stand up with compassion as well.

Picked Last for Gym Class

One of the themes of Don’t You Forget About Me is the long-term effects of bullying.  When Allison Gingras interviewed me recently for her show A Seeking Heart, I talked about how DYFAM grew out of how much I have learned about forgiveness and that had I attempted to write that book even ten, fifteen years ago, it would have come out as a nanni-nanni-boo-boo vengeance novel.  Now, it is true:  I have long forgiven anyone who hurt me in grade school.

However, I just this morning noticed something that has stuck with me, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

We are preparing to move.  We hope.  That’s another topic for another day, though.  We’ve lived out here in the Middle of Nowhere for nearly nine years now.  It’s been a rough nine years.  It’s really hard for me to connect with people to begin with.  I’ve always been “weird,” for lack of a better term.  Now, some of you might want to dismiss that with, “Heyyyy, everybody should be their own kind of weird.” Or, “Thank GOD you’re weird! You’re just better than all those normal people,” or whatever our supercali-individualistic society tells us to tell ourselves when we don’t “fit in.”  That’s fine.  That’s all good.  I have no regrets about who I am.  I’ve come to see that the very characteristics that make me a terrible BFF girl friend are making me an awesome wife and a formidable parent.

However.  I may be bad at being a friend.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want friends.  So what I’ve done is join things.  Clubs.  Bible studies.  Service projects.  And if there’s nothing to join, I start something (out here, that happens a lot).  As a result, people find themselves working alongside me sometimes.

However, they don’t pick me.  They choose the activity, but they don’t choose me.

I don’t go to playgrounds or libraries or whatever and start chatting up people,  because my life experience has taught me that those same people wouldn’t pick me. Given the choice, anyway.  That experience started early.  I was always picked last for gym class.  Now I am pretty sure that nothing would have changed that unless some grownup had noticed that I’m dyspraxic and could have used some early intervention OT & PT.  Whatever.  The fact remains that I was always picked last.  “Pick a partner” was the worst thing I ever heard in my schooling career, even through high school, where my experience was markedly better.  I even broke out in cold sweats over it.  I think the most precious gift anyone ever gave me was in Acting I in college.  Our professor assigned us our first two-person scene project, and before the slightest icy bead could form on my spine, a classmate turned around and said, “Erin, you wanna work with me?”  I couldn’t have been more shocked.  Had there been another Erin in the class, I would’ve assumed he meant her.  I still think I said, “Who, me?”

Anyway, these days, I organize activities and programs and events and join various formal groups… and today I realized that’s because I know nobody will pick me.  It’s a hard realization to make, honest and hard.

As I said to Allison in the radio interview mentioned above, I know the poison of self-pity.  I know its danger.  Thankfully I also know that Jesus sends this kind of pain to those He loves because He trusts us with it:  He wants us to know how much it hurts not to be picked.  How often do we not pick Him?

It’s okay to be lonely as long as you’re free.

That’s the only reason I can think of that this kind of pain keeps coming to me, over and over again. Today I have to admit that, no matter how many things I join or form or organize, I will have this pain until I am picked.  I want to be chosen.  And that, my friends, is just another sign that is supposed to point us away from this passing world and towards heaven.  Doubt that?  Go read John 15: 16.  It’s all about the love that is, was, and ever will be.  Love for you.  And, I think, love for me.

Have you had this pain, too?  How have you compensated for it?  Is that working out for you or not so much?  What is one thing, one scary thing, you can do differently to live a life of someone who has been chosen?  

We interrupt this ebook launch…

… as I work on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Meto bring you another silky smooth line from our love interest, Dr. Gene Marcasian.

“Yes, I want you safe,” he murmured against my ear, “but not at the cost of your trust.”

I dropped my hands from my face and hugged Gene as tightly as I could.  How could I let go of this man?  But, with his mind so different from mine, how on earth was I going to keep holding on?

Meanwhile, back at Amazon:

Working Mother” is just one rank under something from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

Forgive me for saying it, but it needs to be said.

I.  Can’t.  Even.  

Thanks to all of you who’ve supported the launch of “Working Mother.”  I hope it’s touched your heart even half as much as it touched–and healed–mine to write it.  This has been a much-needed shot in the arm.

WORKING MOTHER AVAILABLE TOMORROW!

Please join me in celebrating Holy Family Sunday with the release of my 99 cent ebook, “Working Mother.”

Working Mother Final-1Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us! 

Many, many thanks to Ellen & James and all the team over at Full Quiver Publishing for all their hard work that went into this project.