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  • Writer's pictureAshley Thomas

"Effed" Up

"Please do not use God's name as a casual swear word" she said.

"Sorry" I said. "But if you don't mind me saying supposing there is a God, he has totally effed up my life." I thought she'd get angry then, but all she said was,

"You are not unique in the universe. No one has an easy time in life. But maybe God has effed up - as you put it - your life for a reason."

"And I can hardly fu**ing wait to find out what that is."

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood

I recently finished the sequel to The Handmaids Tale; I couldn't put it down. The tension between "right" and "wrong" coming up against one another all in the name of being "most holy". In reality both unholy, yet, both sides attempting to get things to a place of how things ought to be. In reality like Nicole and Agnes in the conversation above we have had moments (if we are honest) of wondering. Wondering why, when and what the .....

I’ve vacillated between isolating in a room with a blanket, face full of tears...and escaping to my distant childhood by dancing, consuming sugar and pretending like there is not a care in the world. All to avoid the realities of being an “adult” the mess that is loss and unknown. Uncertainty has been an unwelcome guest who has left me more often than not crippled with fear and anxiety this year. Two things I work real hard at avoiding. I value stability - I attempt to control and maintain it at all costs. For all of you enneagram "nerds" this falls well in line with me being a 6. (There I've become the annoying person who references it often).

This beautiful picture was created by a friend in memory of the first Hope Street member I ever met. She also was the first member I knew, that we had to bury. Her daughter’s scream at her funeral is often on replay in the back of my mind. No child should have to bury their mother. Yet, this year we have had 4 under the age of 18 who have.

I reflect on this piece of artwork today, on what would have been Sabrina’s Birthday. She undoubtedly would have reminded me that countless times as it if it’s hard to remember Christmas Eve. The night we celebrate the coming of Christ. The night where darkness was cast out by the Light.

I’ve dreaded the holidays this year. I’ve felt sick thinking about the girls (Quintara, Shontyla, Andreia and Kaliyah) who will experience their first Christmas without their mamas. Things aren’t how they ought to be and yet, somehow it’s still possible to find Peace in the midst of chaos. How? I think I am beginning to realize it is through acknowleding and naming the mundane. It's through owning our true feelings and being OK if it is not what would otherwise be expected. That it is in being our most authentic, vulnerable self that we can begin to know ourselves better alongside others too - hopefully allowing us to be more empathetic.

We see, experience and witness the joy of the season, the announcements of children to be born, engagements, family photos and traditions...I’m doing my best to be thankful this year for the growth that comes with pain. For a season where it seems like all of the things I really want...are so far out of reach and yet vividly on display in the lives of those I love and get to do life with. Which is good. It’s important to learn how to not be the life suck in the room, who can’t celebrate with others because you don’t seemingly have anything to celebrate yourself. (Which is never true, even when it “feels” like it).

So it’s Christmas, not sure how “Merry” it seems this year but I’m trusting He’s in the waiting (where things are as they ought to be) and in the midst of that we can be made new. Also realizing, that it’s OK to have tears, anger, sprinkled with laughter and moments of joy.

Life is hard, that’s why He came - so that we may have a Hope worth living for. Keep going, when it feels like no one else sees you, He does.

He’s in the waiting.

God can handle our descriptors, even the foul "effed up" versions - which for me is enough. May we be tired of censoring things so people can feel comfortable portraying "holiness" instead of realizing we are as much a part of the problem as we get to be a part of the solution. Our mess and beauty wrapped up in one beloved being - He can handle it, can you?

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