Stories that Matter

The Painful Insignificance, Chocolate Cake and A Bottle of Wine …

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You’ve had days like that. Days when for whatever reason, and it doesn’t matter why, you misjudge, miscalculate, miss the mark, make a snap decision and just do something utterly stupid. But then it’s done and it can’t be undone and so you pray and hope that one day, a week from now or a month or a year or two, it just won’t matter. But today, right then, right now…

Chocolate cake and a bottle of wine.

For a migraine sufferer like me, this is a lethal combination. But I have mastered the art of smiling through the pain. I’ve had years to practice and I do it well. Ask me how I am. Fine. Smile. And you carry on, satisfied. Or maybe you don’t because you know … somehow … you see … somehow … and so you sit and stay awhile.

Chocolate cake and a bottle of wine.

I blame her really, not that I remember the event, I was only days old, but I do know that she left and never looked back. I know now she had her reasons. And she did leave me with one final parting gift. That feeling of complete and utter insignificance. The gift that keeps on giving. But it all turned out so well in the end. And maybe it’s not fair to lay blame at anybody’s feet. Maybe it isn’t fair to expect anybody to ever fully understand or even pretend to and maybe it isn’t fair to hope to matter just a bit when you know or think or suspect that at the end of the day, what you do doesn’t. Maybe it isn’t fair. Because it’s up to me, really. It’s my choice. I can choose to stay in the shadows where it’s safe or I can come out and play. Playgrounds were never my happy place. Shadows suit me better some days.

Chocolate cake and a bottle of wine.

We had this discussion some time ago, some friends and I, of how we’re all vulnerable. I said I didn’t like being vulnerable. I meant it. I accept that I am, but I don’t have to like it. You know? What possesses me to share on such levels? What am I looking for? What are any of us looking for? Friendship. Affirmation. Praise. Acceptance. I don’t know. Seriously. At what point would I sit back and sigh and smile content in knowing I am perfect in all my imperfections? At what point would I know, believe, that I was and am and will be truly loved? What kind of faith and courage does that take?

Once upon a time I tried to be a good little evangelical. I remember talking to a friend about Jesus and she said, “How in the world could anyone ever love me like that? Why would they want to?” And I sat back silent.

I’m told it’s true. I’m told the pat answer time and time again, he just does. I’ve said it. Believed it? Maybe in my own way. But when you grow up avoiding looking in the mirror because you don’t like what you see, that kind of faith takes forever to stick. A lifetime maybe.

So vulnerable, yeah, you got it. I am. Because we all are on some level. We all have our own stories, and some of us are too terrified to tell them. And so we write. I write about the real stuff of life because I do believe it matters. I believe some of us want and need to hear those stories and learn and grow because of them. So I write it all down. And I’ll share my crap with you, not to ask you to carry it, but to let you know that I’m just as messed up as the next person and maybe you are too. Maybe we can be messed up together. So I’ll write the thing down and I don’t know where it’ll end up. And maybe that’s okay. Because I know now. Publishers publish books to sell them, I’m not sure they much care about the content. And readers require a formula and you’d better stick to it if you want to win them over and don’t for goodness sake’s, don’t ever, ever, ever throw in one wrong unacceptable word. No soup for you.

Right now I feel a little like I’m on a teeter-totter that bangs on either side of courage and crazy. Because you’ve got to have a hefty dose of both to make it out there. You’ve got to acknowledge the things that hurt, the things that keep you up nights … you’ve got to know that one day, one day, one day, this will matter. The words you write today will matter. And even if they only matter to you … you’ll learn to live with that. And you’ll be okay. We will all be okay.

But for now? For today?

You can pray, and choose to live the thing out. And do it well. As best you can.

With chocolate cake and a bottle of wine.

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8 Comments

  1. Jennifer Zarifeh Major on March 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Aaaaahhhhhh!!!

    You slay me, every time. You say things I think I’m hiding, and you say it perfectly!!!

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on March 12, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    The stories I might tell are too terrifying to be told. There are those for whom Jesus didn’t come. They only had me and my comrades, and all we could offer was retribution.

    They revisit me in dreams, and I’m in deep, deep trouble. I am afraid to sleep.

    I ask your prayers.

    • Cathy West on March 12, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Andrew, I can only imagine. And sometimes time does not heal. Only God can. Will be praying.

  3. Jeanne Takenaka on March 12, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Cathy, your words spoke my heart. Many days, I struggle with feeling like I’m utterly insignificant. Your words? Beautiful. True. Comforting. Thank you for sharing the imperfect, perfect you with us.

    • Cathy West on March 12, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      My friend, how I wish we could sit down for coffee and just talk this out. Thank you for reading, for understanding. For getting it. 🙂 That means so much.

  4. joepote01 on March 12, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    There are times when the only part of scripture left for me to cling to is the verse I learned long ago, as the shortest verse in the Bible “Jesus wept.”

    What else would a loving God do when faced with the sorrow and pain of life in this world?

    And, somehow, that’s enough…enough just to know His response to our sorrow is to weep with us.

    Thank you for sharing such a transparent and thought-provoking post!

    • Cathy West on March 12, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      Yes. Great encouragement there. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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