Smash the Mirror

I picture Jesus cupping my face so often. My cheeks rest in his hands and he makes me face him, our eyes aligned. He speaks truth to me there, says things with emphasis to try and make me believe them. It feels a bit like how a Grandma looks at you, like you’re precious and she needs you to understand it, like she’d give you anything you asked for because this face in her hands, this face, lights up her entire day. I think that maybe Jesus feels that way about me. I think maybe he looks at me and mourns a bit because I look in the mirror and wonder why I didn’t try harder today, I look in the mirror and think that I failed again. So he tries again, he pulls my face away from that mirror and makes me stare at him, tells me again how much I matter. He tells me that he made me to matter, he made me with purpose, and nothing I do or don’t do can change that. I usually believe him for a moment, get teary-eyed and nod and we hold each other, but the next time I’m in front of that mirror I forget. I can’t possibly matter, I didn’t do any cleaning today, I didn’t read enough for school, I didn’t show enough love, I got angry at my customers, I watched too much TV, I didn’t pray enough. How can someone with so many flaws matter? How can someone that needs medication to think straight matter, really? I only matter when I’m properly medicated and I’ve had enough sleep and my mind is thinking straight, because that’s when I can actually contribute to the world.

And he comes and cups my face again. He stares into my eyes, an intensity in his own. He says, “I died for you. I died for you when you watched too much Netflix. I died for you when you yelled at your sister. I died for you when you cursed at a passing driver. I died for you when you slept all day. I died for you when you contemplated suicide. I died for you when you lusted. I died for you when you hated others. I died for you with your bitterness, your brokenness, your pride, your shame, your flaws and imperfections. I didn’t die for a perfect person—there would have been no point. I died for you because you need me. Look at me.

Help me look a little longer, Jesus. Keep holding my face so I can’t turn away. Can we smash the mirror? Let’s smash the mirror. I just want to look at you.


#Write31Days – Days 14-16

1/14/18 – “Aware”

On an average day I’m so aware
of my hips and how they fold
gently over the top of my jeans,
or my eyes and the way they’re
disproportionate to my face
if I don’t wear the right makeup.
My head goes through all the reasons
I’ve been a bad friend this month,
chastises me for my impatient driving,
and how I don’t give people grace enough.
I’m constantly criticizing
the amount of time I spend on netflix,
the hours I wasted when I could have been
calling my mom
writing more
reading all the books I spend my money on.
I think, I’m a terrible sister,
I didn’t ask them how their days were,
or my husband must be sick of me
leaving dishes in the sink and
always seeking validation.
I’m so aware of
all my mistakes,
the ways I could have done better,
where I fell short of perfect.

But on the days I seek Jesus
I’m so aware of His love for me
that I forget everything
except the cross.

1/15/18 – “Move”

He said,
you can move mountains.
but what about
the pebble in front of me.
can we just start there?

1/16/18 – “Little”

“Tell me about when you were little,” he said, half his voice muffled by the pillow. She groaned. “No, come on,” he pestered, laughing, like somehow even her defiance was funny.

“What’s there to tell?” She turned, meeting his eyes. Something in them said he’d take any story she gave him, like his desire for her didn’t end with her body. It scared her, but still she started talking.

“When I was little my mom took me out a lot – she hated being at home. We’d go to the farmer’s market and she’d feed me fresh peaches to keep me entertained while she’d flirt with the vendors. We’d drive 3 hours just to go to an art festival, even though we never bought anything. I was always bored after 15 minutes, so my mom made up stories to go along with the weird paintings. There was a reoccurring character – Ricardo the horse – why do so many people paint horses? – and I loved him so much she bought me a stuffed animal of him. At night we’d visit the pond by our house, sit on park benches and eat the bread that was meant for the ducks while we looked at the stars. She didn’t know any of the constellations but told me names for them anyway. I think she had whole galaxies made up in her mind, and she’d visit them whenever we had to stay inside.”

She blinked, looked back into his eyes.

He looked away.

#Write31Days – Day 13

1/13/18 – “Sky”

When you’re a kid you look to the sky, dream of things you can do in the world. You hear parents say, “You could be president. You can be anything you want to be.

Reach for the sky.”

I reached and reached and reached, but all I feel is falling.
And this earth hits my back hard
each time I miss the mark.

I don’t succeed at the American dream. If I don’t have a picket fence, a baby at 25, who am I? What do I have to offer? No 401k or salary paycheck.

When Mom said, “Reach for the sky,”
bet she didn’t think I’d be a barista.

I have a dream but it isn’t
babies and BMWs and suburban neighborhoods.

I want to get my hands dirty. Taste the earth as it cradles me. I want to create art that makes people feel alive for a while. I want to plant flowers, appreciate their soil.

Mama, I’m sorry.

I reached and reached and reached
but I fell in love with the fall.

#Write31Days – Day 9

1/9/18 – “Post-It”

Post-it note sized
reminders of why it’s good to be alive

i. the smell of the ocean
lingering on your body
salty kisses
stuck in your hair

ii. the crunch-sound leaves make
the liberating sensation as you jump in a pile
and it catches you
like your mom used to
when you were lighter

iii. fingertips sliding along your bare skin
like ice skaters
goosebumps shoot up like ice flakes
and under your skin there’s
the warmth of a fireplace

iv. the way a body curves
its hills and valleys
how skin stretches to hold us
no matter our shape

v. words and their endless material
the infinite universes out there
waiting to be created
and the gift we all possess
to make them

vi. I’m so loved;
when my phone rings because my mom is calling
when he rubs my back for no reason
when I sit across from a friend with coffee in our hands
when Jesus came and hung on a tree for me
the love swells and
no post-it note can contain it

#Write31Days – Day 5

1/5/2018 – Five-Minute Friday Free Write

Is writing just a pity party?
Is that what writers do?
Invite all of our past hurts,
give them party favors
and tell them the cake will be worth it.

Remind ourselves with slide shows
played to sad songs
about all the times we’ve been wronged.
Drink too much and
go on and on
about how we never got a real childhood?

Why do people come to all these gatherings
when they’re always the same—
a memorial of pain.

Maybe daily life is just
a masquerade ball
and we’re all so sick of wearing masks
a party relishing the horrors of reality
is almost a relief.

My guests should be happy,
I have so much material
this one could go on for years.

Author’s Note: This one was just kind of for fun. I was having a hard time thinking of what to write about and this is what came out of it. It’s not spectacular, but I’m realizing that doing a 31 day writing challenge means some days are simply going to be forced. But that has to be okay, because at least I’m writing. Thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with it for the first five days!

Haunted: A Piece of Prose

The wind kisses my fingertips like we’re old friends meeting again. A dog’s collar tinkles like Christmas bells behind John Mayer whispering “now I’m free…free fallin’…” through my headphones. Green leaves reflect in the window pane in front of me, and through it sits a gray-haired gentleman. His fishermen’s hat lays on the table in front of him, covered in pins from a lifetime of experience I long to have. I wonder how to get myself out of this town, how to collect a scrapbook of memories on a cap like he has. Is free falling losing track of life in the mundane mess of things until you’re neck deep in a picket fence and tax deductions, or is it running away for a weekend into the mountains without looking at your bank account just to say hello to the leaves again? Fall in Florida is funny. It’s a friendly flirt that runs away into the summertime every few weeks, and you’re left with too many scarves and a sweat-beaded forehead. I’m too nostalgic to study science. DNA exists even in fickle Florida and right now I want to leave that world behind. The hum of traffic behind me taps at my shoulder, reminds me of my itch to disappear into small towns no one knows the name of, where walking is the primary mode of transportation. I feel most alive in the namelessness of a new town, where every face you meet is one you imagine you’ll never see again. There’s nothing to be afraid of there, no standard that’s been preset, no expectations to reach for. I’m breathless with exhilaration, staring in the face of someone who knows nothing about me, has no preconceived notions. However I behave is how I behave; is me. There’s nothing to compare it to, no Carla that I’m not living up to. Sometimes the old Carlas really make a mess of things. They rise up from the dead and haunt me, remind me what I was meant to be, what I could have been, what people wanted from me, every disappointing aspect of what I’ve become. It’s nice to go somewhere and just be Present Day Carla, the Carla that woke up this morning. There’s nothing to apologize for because this is the only Carla you’re ever going to meet. How refreshing.

But right now I’m here, the same old coffee shop, a familiar table, being teased by a wind that is only a whisper of the one I’m wishing for. The leaves here are only brown—there are no archways of glittering gold trees to drive through, no King Midas kingdom to get lost in. I get lost in my normal life. My normal apartment. My normal schoolwork. My normal TV shows. My normal coffee shops. My normal routine. And the ghosts keep coming in this haunted town.