A few years ago, I wrote a novella, God Eats Pad Thai. Just for me, just to put words to a story that had been floating through my life for the last several months. I wanted to write a story of God actually showing up on someone’s doorstep to answer every question they’d ever had face-to-face. Some of it was based on my own life. Some of it was straight from my imagination… But it begins here…
This week, I’m going to share excerpts… in the hope that you’ll find something encouraging and honest and beautiful there too.
It’s raw. Be warned. But hopefully authentic. I would love to hear your thoughts.
It Feels Breakable Like Glass
Minutes. Hours. Seconds. Days. Here at the beach. God and I really could have been sitting here forever, and I couldn’t have told you. The air around us seemed tense, fragile, like glass stretched across a frozen canyon. Moments from breaking.
“I’m still here.” The words are so soft, so minutely quiet that I almost miss them. I feel the glass crack around me. I feel the shell that I’d carefully been constructing around myself begin to shatter. Hold it together, I remind myself.
“Share it all with me.”
And in that one sentence, everything comes crashing down. There’s not even words to explain everything in my heart. Not enough sentences on the planet, probably. I can’t hold on to all of this. I can’t keep it from overwhelming me. I wrap my heart around every pain, every joy, every indescribable and exhausting emotion, and I shove it towards him. Here, I think.
A scream from somewhere inside.
I feel everything clawing, scraping, grinding, as it somehow forces it’s way through my skin. Blood. Water. Tears. I feel like I’m drowning and vomiting and falling long through an untended ocean. This is not how it was supposed to be. I gave everything away. Another wave. Another. You were supposed to take this. And he’s crying, and I’m screaming. Like diving into a pool to find it’s a hurricane, waiting to overwhelm and destroy. TAKE IT! But the corners of my heart, the barren spaces I’d long since forgotten or covered up or buried, the movement and openness was too much. There was a comfort in the silken forgetfulness that came with time. A soft cover over years of sorrow. Years of deferred hopes and broken hearts. Even the joys that were buried among them all were broken and showing their age. Their dullness only seemed to remind me of what once was. Forgotten friends, classmates. Family members long since gone. Gone. I held my head as more memories ripped through. More everything. There was a brief flash of joy as Matthew flashed through my head. That test. Instinctively I ducked to avoid the bottle being thrown at my head until he reached for my hand, quietly reminding me. Only a memory. And then, those girls were laughing. And again, I felt so alone. So forgotten. I hated myself for wanting to look like her, dress like her. I kept hearing voices in my head over and over – you really want to be that shallow? That materialistic? I wasn’t loud enough to admit I just wanted to be pretty. Girly. Feminine. My heart followed that train of thought far too long. I felt every time I put the dresses back. Put back the lacy shirt. The silver sandals. The necklace. I was swallowed up in conflicted hopes. I want to love Jesus and be pretty. This is so unimportant. Move on. Two sentences that even now, reveal a heart. Friends fly past. Memories of conversations. Two buildings burning in the morning sunlight, and terror. A first date. A last date. Wondering if I’d ever be good enough. Strong enough. Fast enough. Skinny enough. There was the memory of his hands around my neck, the implication clear – I wish you’d never been born. Never walked into my life – the implication fresh as the day I survived. Slow down. Go faster. You’re selfish. Self-centered. You’re ill because you refuse to take care of yourself. You’re ill because he just couldn’t stop it. He just doesn’t care. He’s going to take care of everyone around you, but you – you are on your own. I felt this God-on-the-beach beside me absorb that last one with a particular sting.
And then there was air again. Filling my lungs. Filling my soul. Deep breath. And I realized there were so many pieces I hadn’t even caught as they’d flown from the dark recesses. Things that I could now see reflected in his eyes as he sat patiently. What are you waiting for?
“Just hold on to me.”
And so I do.
Too Much to Think About
And that’s when it all hit. The rocketing emptiness that had been soothed by so many stuffed-in memories and thoughts came roaring to life. Now I understood that letting it go was the very beginning of the battle. It was all I could do to not take everything back. Anything to quiet this monster that’s come to life. Please. There was no response. Please. I’m begging you. I am crying. Anything but this. Please.
He wraps his arms around me. And we cry together.
Coffee and Glass
When I resurface, I’m aware that the sun is setting over the water…I’m entranced by the sparkling edges of light sprayed out across the ocean. As I begin to put my thoughts together again, I look over at him. He’s sitting, his legs stretched out in front of him. I watch as he stares intently at the sunset. Every time his glance moves, I notice new glimmers across the sky. I think he’s holding his breath. I watch the sky. I watch him. Alternating back and forth. As the light dims, the sun slips beneath the water, purple edges trailing behind. A sliver of white, and then nothing. He relaxes back and smiles.
“Welcome back,” he says, still looking at the sky.
I move, shocked at the stiffness. “How long have I been here? How long have we been here?” The people I’d seen earlier are nowhere to be found.
“Clearly.” My stomach twists, and I think back. Did I eat breakfast? I go backwards through my afternoon, then morning. Coffee and glass. That was the last time I touched anything edible. Of course the glass kind of put a damper on that too.
I sit for a moment, feeling my way around my heart again. I brace for another onslaught, but there’s only calm. I am able to look back, my memories intact, burnished, but no longer my core. It’s as if I have been ripped in half, my bones replaced by… by what? My stomach twists again.
“Here,” he says, handing me a take-out box and chopsticks.
“When did you leave –“
“I didn’t,” he says, as if it’s entirely normal to be in two places at once. I pop open my box, taking in the swirls of noodles and vegetables.
“Pad thai. We’re eating pad thai.” I don’t know why this is odd to me. Maybe I never saw God as the thai takeout sort. I can’t help but smiling. Maybe somebody will finally teach me to eat with chopsticks.
“It’s your – what do you call it – your one-food-on-an-island choice?”
I laugh out loud. And then I realize he’s absolutely right. If you had asked me, I probably would have given you a different answer. Tomatoes? Sourdough bread and olive oil? He’s absolutely right. It’s pad thai. That is so unnerving.
But damn, can he pull together a pad thai! We sit, eating our noodles. The air is still, warming as the day’s heat rises from the ground. The sound of waves pounding the shoreline is comforting somehow. I take a deep breath. In, out. Another. I take another noodle bite. So what now? I think.
“Thank you for trusting me,” he says. I’m surprised yet again. My eyes flash to his, and I’m surprised again to see my memories living there. “I know it was a lot to handle.”
“I didn’t even know most of that was buried in there. It hurt so much. How could you let me live like that?”
“I never left you. I carried you through everything. You weren’t alone.” He sets his takeout down. “I know how much it hurt. But now you’re free to ask now. You have so many questions.”
My heart unfurls with questions faster than I can put words to them. But he picks one anyway. And then another and another.
“Because you’re unique. Because that was his choice, not yours. Because you love the creative arts. Because if you would have quit that job you’d never have met her. Because I needed you to trust me. Because you needed to know I was there. Because I wanted you to have that moment. Because it was my gift to you.” I honestly wasn’t sure what questions he was answering, but they settled into my soul with amazing speed. Like puzzle pieces snapping into place. Pieces I hadn’t known I needed.
And then, there it is – the first fully-worded question.
“Why did he have to die?”
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