It’s me, Kim – again. I started writing this letter to you a week ago early Saturday morning. My canine kid, Swaggy, didn’t respect that Saturday was not a work day for me. His body clock woke him up about 5:30 and he demanded that I get up and moving too. As I resisted Swaggy’s urging to get up, it occurred to me that if I got up I could spend some alone time with my Bible and my God. So, I got up, washed my face, brushed my teeth, turned on the kettle to heat the water for my coffee, grabbed my Bible, a journal and a pen, and sat down to commune with you. Once I sat I couldn’t think of anything to say. It’s funny how I have told myself all of the things I would do or say if I had time and when I got time I found that the list evaporated into nothingness. So, I decided to get back to an old practice I started as an eleven-year-old child – writing “Dear God letters.”
As you know, I have verbalized my tag line which is that “I ain’t the best church lady.” I have literally missed a month of Sundays of church services and I tend not to keep up with all of the events on the church calendar. You know all of the reasons that church people have challenged me over the years and you know my heart.
When I sat down to commune with you, I realized that the chaotic subsections of my life had moved outside of the compartments in which I placed them. As a result, I had more difficulty speaking to and hearing from you. Chaos had been my normal since I was eleven and I adapted to that model. To survive that life model, I compartmentalized the chaos then directed the chaotic subcategories to remain where I put them. My directive was not to store them for safe keeping, but so that I could control when I allowed each chaotic section permission to participate in the symphony of my life. I envisioned myself as a director of a band who signaled the rise of the horn section while silencing the woodwinds. In my perfect band, I would only hear from the section of the band I permitted to play. However, even when they didn’t play they sat on ready, excited to participate with the excited readiness that often caused members to play out of turn. There have been times when my sections performed like a grade school band that happily played that one song they rehearsed for an entire fall term for their winter concert audience. When my chaos refused to stay sectioned according to my directives, I smiled like the parent at that grade school band concert nodding in approval like I really didn’t hear the squeaks, squawks, and missed notes as the band played the song. I found myself with members blaring random notes, at will, and that random noise from the entire band caused me to have difficulty organizing and communicating my thoughts and needs to you.
This dilemma reminded me of the eleven-year-old me who started writing letters to you. At that time, life felt complex, uncertain, and frightening. I think my mother knew that our family dysfunction caused me angst so she encouraged me to “write about it even if you can’t talk about.” Until now, I have never shared the contents of a “Dear God letter” with anyone except you. I used to write the letters, read them, and destroy them because I was afraid that someone would find the letters and then know my inner thoughts and feelings.
As a child, I believed that I was the only one living with the dysfunction resonating in my head, heart, and spirit like the noisy clamber of the grade school percussionist. As an adult, I realized that I was not the only one performing this phenomenal feat. People performed this feat on a regular basis as they try to manage life and the noise in their heads. Sometimes the sections played softly, in tune, in the background like a sound track to my life movie. But, the letter writing was mandated at those moments when the band forgot that it was never to have a primary role, but only provide accompaniment to my script. It was never supposed to play louder than I could speak or think. In the last few weeks, I learned that each chaotic subsection had a trigger and the collective force of all of the subsections led me to do what I knew I had to do – write. The pen I used when I wrote letters to you became the baton, raised to lower the volume so that I could think. Every time I wrote a “Dear God letter” I remembered why my mother’s advice to write manifested itself in letter writing to God.
During the crazy, confusing period of my childhood, a librarian at my elementary school gave me a book to read. (Unfortunately, she has been nameless and faceless for years.) The book was “Are you there God? It’s me Margeret” by Judy Blume. Last week, I visited the local library virtually and I checked out the book because I needed to refresh my memory about why this book transformed my adolescence and continued to influence my adult life. The young girl in this book reminded me that feelings of inadequacy, rejection, insecurity, aloneness, and being misunderstand did not discriminate. I was reminded that my chaos did not wait for my life to settle down. I also had no guarantee that each feeling or emotion would prevent me from experiencing future occurrences of the same feelings like the chickenpox or a rare celestial event. Judy Blume, through this book, taught me the cathartic value of writing letters to God. Taking the time to write to you gave me more control over the situations in my life that triggered the negative feelings. My pen became my baton. The gliding of the ink from my pen to the paper created musical notes bouncing in my head transforming my loud grade school band into a soothing symphony.
The main character reminded me that I had that ability to take each care or chaotic issue to you in my writing. I remembered that even the things that feel small to other folks can wreak havoc in my life. I remembered that when I write to you, there is no human judgment or endless lecturing. I got to say everything that was on my mind and in my heart when I penned letters to you. When I’m done writing my “Dear God letter,” I don’t have all of the answers to my problems, but I have calmed the chaos enough to breath freer and think clearer. I hope that somebody who reads my letter will decide to write their own letter. The truth is that some things are better said in a letter to God and not out loud (especially when you have to yell over the band for other folks to hear you speak.)