Should I tear my heart out now?

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The only thing that keeps me from driving this car
Half-light, jack knife into the canyon at night
Signs and wonders: Perseus aligned with the skull
Slain Medusa, Pegasus alight from us all
Do I care if I survive this? Bury the dead where they’re found
In a veil of great surprises; I wonder did you love me at all?
The only thing that keeps me from cutting my arm
Cross hatch, warm bath, Holiday Inn after dark
Signs and wonders: water stain writing the wall
Daniel’s message; blood of the moon on us all
Do I care if I despise this? Nothing else matters, I know
In a veil of great disguises; how do I live with your ghost?
Should I tear my eyes out now?
Everything I see returns to you somehow
Should I tear my heart out now?
Everything I feel returns to you somehow
I want to save you from your sorrow
The only reason why I continue at all
Faith in reason, I wasted my life playing dumb
Signs and wonders: sea lion caves in the dark
Blind faith, God’s grace, nothing else left to impart
Do I care if I survive this, bury the dead where they’re found
In a veil of great surprises; hold to my head till I drown
Should I tear my eyes out now, before I see too much?
Should I tear my arms out now, I wanna feel your touch
Should I tear my eyes out now?
Everything I see returns to you somehow
Should I tear my heart out now?
Everything I feel returns to you somehow
The Only Thing – Sufjan Stevens
(this isn’t about God, but his mom, I’m almost positive [album is about his mom’s death]. I just like his take on faith and life in general, and he’s a damn good writer.)


I’ve developed many ideas about my faith over my short time here, most of which I’ve kept quiet–not as respect toward my agnostic or atheist friends but to my Christian friends. And maybe not exactly just my friends, but my brothers and sisters.

The first reason I’ve kept quiet I have to get out of the way. I am deeply flawed. I am flawed because we are all flawed. Being a writer really makes this fact come out into the open. I look back on my writing even from just last year, and I get embarrassed. Maybe next year I’ll be embarrassed by this. Especially as a young person, but just being a person, ideas change–we evolve.

The second reason is because I hate confrontation and adversity. I want everyone to be happy and know that I love them with all my heart, and if I ever hurt someone with my words, it hurts me just as much as it hurts them. I hate adversity so much that it fuels my anxiety like newspaper in a fire,  producing pollutants in my very lungs.

But being 23 in 2016 has been strange, and I believe I am ready to admit that I am flawed and terribly inarticulate. Yes, I may write, but that’s the beauty of poetry, metaphor–it helps the clumsy communicate their truth, and in this case, what I believe to be Truth.

I’d like to first start my blunt confusion with something I read in Donald Miller’s Searching for God Knows What:

He (Jesus) Believed All People Were Equal

Let me continue by stating an observation I’ve noticed: Christians are deeply fearful.

As I said, these are observations, generalizations, which, of course, are not always the case. But lets suck in that miserable pride and admit that many, many, many people who call themselves Christians are failing. It is shameful, and in all honesty, confuses me.

Why are Christians so afraid? Why do they/we crave “freedom” when we are supposed to already be free?

What is happening on Earth? What is our job? To give up everything and help the poor (Luke 12:33). And is there equality on Earth? If it is our job to be like Jesus, why the hell are we running around like literal, bloody, decapitated, pitiful chickens with our heads cut off, screaming and crying around the lawn while inside the lonely and forsaken sit at the table inside?

Donald Miller quoted Phillip Yancey, stating, “…the Christian church now attracts respectable types who closely resemble the people most suspicious of Jesus on earth. What has happened to reverse the pattern of Jesus’ day? Why don’t (non-Christians) like being around us?”

Honestly, I could go on. And we all know I’m repeating sentiments that have been expressed since the beginning of time, so it seems trite, but repetition is good. Repetition is necessary for our thick skulls. We all need repetition.

We’ve all heard it: Jesus was Middle-Eastern. He was a Jew. He was a loser. He wasn’t rich, and everyone hated him. I’m not sure people believe that, though, or maybe they are too busy eating steak (yes, another person to use The Matrix as a metaphor for faith, but it’s just too easy not to).

I could tell you everything I believe about Christians. They are money-hungry, when Jesus blatantly stated that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven. He says that this man will have trouble seeing God’s beauty on his own (Luke 18:25-27) (Miller 124).

But this is what I truly, honestly believe: Christians are not quiet, patient readers and listeners. 

I love cultures. All of them. There is none that I like more than the other, really. At my last internship, the company connected to them was involved in reaching the communities of the Twin Cities. I went to HR and sat down, giddy, and told her what I wanted to do. I told her I love cultures. She, of course, wanted me to be specific. I couldn’t.

One time, my counselor told me I will be a life-learner, and honestly, I am constantly over-whelmed by everything I want to experience. There is so much hurt in this world, but I want to be a scuba diver, I want to see Machu Pichu, I want to be polygot. Hell, I want to be bilingual. I am not patient. And if you read the popular love verses of Corinthians, what is the first description of love? Patience. I am one of the least-patient people you will ever meet. I want everything to happen to me right away. I feel entitled to it, when I really dig deep into my gut. Though I know I have more than I could ever know, which is more to do with circumstance, being born in twentieth-century America, I am still flawed, human.

The first episode of the podcast “Liturgists” says that anyone can be creative. Science has proven that though some are born with more of a proclivity towards creativity, anyone can achieve a creative exercise through practice, and could even possibly match some of those who are most creative.

I am not going to sit here and point fingers, delve into political white guilt, or even go any further than stating I am confused by the continual actions of what I like to call “my kind.” Science fiction is extremely useful in analyzing humanity, and almost everyday I feel alien, and I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m the only one who feels this way, or that this is because I believe in the stories of Jesus. I think we all feel this way, and I’m very tired of anti-solidarity.

And, for those reading this who are “my kind,” please try to listen. Listen to the air, the beauty of the Earth, and those who you call your enemies. We all need to listen. We need quiet. We need boring. We need to read. We must learn for ourselves what we believe in, which is the only reason I went to a Christian university. It wasn’t for some phony community of like-mindedness. It was to learn, on my own, what I believed in. And it’s been an amazing journey. There’s so much poetry in it, so much illogical, hippie-like tendencies that warmongers love to mock with a Bible in the other hand. It’s confusing, this world, and though I may have found what I believe to be truth, please just listen. Each and everyone of you. Listen because you may just learn something, even by God, from someone who disagrees with you.

And to be honest: the words in the Sufjan song are how I feel a lot of the time, as we all experience grief in some way at some point. And I grieve for what’s been made of a beautiful story. It’s not even about doubt anymore. I know I doubt God’s existence everyday, and that’s okay. It’s good. I hold on to the axioms. At the end of the day, it becomes more about being, existing, on this planet rather than a competition or rusty communication to other human beings. And maybe that’s all it’s ever been about. We’ll see.

Published by celinamcmanus

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