I was raised in a pretty whackadoodle church. Okay, it was a cult. One of the (many) things drilled into our heads was that if we loved anyone or anything too much, God would be righteously jealous and take it away. As punishment. Also, another of the (many) things drilled into our heads was that human beings were Totally Depraved (see also, Calvinism, n.) As in, there is nothing of inherent value.
In anyone. Ever.
Anything that made us feel good was incredibly suspect and probably of demonic origin. Okay, that last bit I may have extrapolated as a confused kid.
A few months ago, as I was folding laundry, I whispered something to myself, just to see what the words would feel like. What it would feel like to say, almost-out-loud, something that I was afraid might be true:
“i used to love to write”
“I used to love to write”
“i used to love to write”
I used to love to write. I loved it so much … I would steal moments from everything – work, school, sleep … it was my hobby, my passion, my entertainment, my therapy … my bumbling introduction into a wonderful circle of magical friends. It prompted people to say nice things about me and to me and sometimes I could even almost believe them. Fan fiction was my favorite. It was fun, it was something that was just mine, mine alone, to do with as I pleased and now I’m folding laundry and whispering …
“I used to love to write, but I can’t seem to write anymore.”
And it was so painfully true. My brain gave up on life, and I had to take some medicine to help convince my brain that no, really, living is a good thing, and let’s keep doing that, seriously, way too many people would be way too seriously inconvenienced if we stopped. And that medication is notorious for being a big, heavy, wet, soaking blanket that smothers out the sparks of creativity. This is an established concern with these medications.
“i used to love to write” and the words, even whispered, were like ash in my throat because that’s got to be it, right? I loved it too much and now it’s gone. Maybe it’s not the medication (and, also, maybe if I were the kind of good person I was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have even needed that medication, but that’s another day’s discussion of lies the church told me). Maybe . . .
Maybe I loved writing too much.
And I’m twelve years old again, in the church/school library, finding comfort in the neat rows of books. I can hear the pastor clearing his throat, loudly, like he always did, as he came out of his office, at the front of the church. I can hear the jingle and clank of the ridiculous set of keys that was ever-present on his belt, as he walked toward the back of the church. I remember the faintly musty smell of the tiny room as I sat stock-still, praying fervently that he was in too big of a hurry to notice the sliver of light under the door because I just really, really, really didn’t want to have to speak politely to him while my heart hammered in my chest with some vague fist of terror wrapped tight around my throat.
But I’m not twelve any more, and I’m sitting at my laptop right now, and I’m writing. Okay, I’m writing about not being able to write but I’m writing. That counts. (Right?)
And I’m telling the secrets that I was supposed to keep, spilling them out onto the screen and yes it’s in a tiny little unassuming font but the words are mine, to do with as I please.
And I’m whispering again, as I check for spelling and grammar errors — because yes, still, nothing I do is inherently good and it’s all sketchy as all heck — but I’m whispering again,
I love to write.
And because I’m no longer twelve, and because the God I know now is so, so different from the God I knew then, I believe that God is just fine with that.