Terror and Tenderness

It’s about that time of year again. Where grandmas will be making pumpkin pie. Jack O’Lanterns will be smiling with their goofy ghoulish grins. Many a man and lady will meet their vampires and not know witch way to turn, or were to wolf, lol.

Fall is fun. For many Halloween is fun. It is THE time of the year where you can spook someone and it is taken in good jest usually. Some go for darker forms of scares, and that was never my cup of tea. Nevertheless, it shows how a culture can tolerate some things sometimes, and at other times go “why are you dressed like a pumpkin?! IT’S JANUARY!”

Halloween is rooted in the old traditional days of All Hallows’ Eve , Samhain, and Parentalia. True to form of Western cultures… it has taken on an aire of play, and mischief. Originally these were times of remembrance for the dearly departed, Saints, and Martyrs.

The Celts have a role in the history of Halloween as well. For them, the seasons were synonymous with life and death. They were terrified of death, hence the reason they revered their dead.

Connected as they were to the underworld through the many skulls they kept in their catacombs… eventually the Celtic religion died off, but its influence can still be heard (albeit VERY distorted), in the coos and cackles of kids looking for a sweet snack. I just think about cavities with it now. Hehe.

For me though… the month of October is a special time of remembrance. This is the story.

When I was 18, October was the month I finally got out of a three year hell hole of derealization, and sporadic depersonalization. Instead of feeling like I was in outer space all hours of the day, I finally started to feel what “I” was. It is a scary feeling to feel so disconnected from the world. It is a hell… if it isn’t hell itself.

I’ve long wondered what caused that bout of pain, and emptiness. Growing up I didn’t receive affirmation in the right way from quite a few people, and for the longest time I wondered if what I did was worth anything. A sense of guilt rained over my head constantly.

When I was 15 (2005) I saw the cover to the Saw movie. Just the cover. It was around my birthday then. When I had no backdrop of value for myself to assure me of the love of God in my heart, and how God does protect and spare us so often, even when we knowingly do something wrong — I finally believed that I wasn’t capable of doing good.

In the midst of the terror I felt from that warped understanding of myself, I fell into a void. I thought manifold evils could spring out of me at any moment. The well of hell and despair was at work inside me, for I believed that I couldn’t ever do enough to receive the peace and love of God, and others.

I had other feelings as well. Long story short, it was a living horror movie of an experience. Even my dreams at times were contaminated with visions of me being a monster that I never wanted to become (now I know that God guards the heart, and He is faithful even when we are not.)

Any horror that could be imagined played through my mind seemingly without my consent. I needn’t tell them, yet nothing was off the menu. And all of this stemmed from the belief that I could lose my will, and whatever goodness I sought after, because I believed WE must do something with God’s grace for us. It is the other way around with Him in reality. It is a gift to be FREELY received.

Come around three years later in Oct 2008 I started to believe that it was possible for God to be good without having anything to do with us pleasing him. That humans didn’t need to be sycophants before him to earn his favor, and provision.

One night that month as I laid in my bed on the floor in the living room, I started doing something I was never taught, yet it felt right….

“I plead the blood.”

I said it again….

“I plead the blood.”

I said that hundreds of times that night.

In the morning, like a ray of light for the first time in three years… I didn’t have that empty space feeling. I didn’t see the nightmarish visions. I saw myself as a good person. I didn’t wake up wanting to die for once, and at last.

I wasn’t in hell anymore.

I understood for once that God loved me, even if I was to screw up. And there was nothing in heaven or hell — now and forevermore — that I could do to make him rescind his grace from me.

Mind you, I didn’t understand this fully in the terms I just said back then. I just had an inkling of it. Yet… it was enough to free me. Sure, sometimes the feelings came back, but I knew how to deal with them better after understanding whatever I learned in my spirit then.

It starts with knowing there is a Good that will be your “good” freely if you let it. Not by lording over you; rather, by teaching you gently, and being a redeemer rather than a punishing nemesis towards you.

Or do you despise the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 2:4, Berean Literal Bible

We have a choice. We can drink daily of the terror of our limits and become numb. OR… we can drink of his gifts of compassion, loving-kindness, meaning, and tender affection — and LIVE, and know the Light.

For me, I found that Light to be the Light of the World (Jesus Christ) — when I finally understood in my person what this verse says so well.

For by his grace you all have been saved through believing it to be so (by faith); and that grace is not of yourselves, it is the Gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9, Paraphrase of the NASB

His love, favor, and provision were always meant to be RECEIVED, not EARNED. Mic drop. PERIOD. It’s a GIFT from God peeps!

There is darkness, and we know it. Maybe not what is in it always, but we know it; then there is the Light of the World.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (understand) it.

John 1:5, NASB

Hard to understand? Yes. Able to be known and experienced? You betcha. I feel the simplicity of it is what makes it so damn hard to get, and pride makes it so damn hard to swallow.

How fitting would it be in the month of Darkness (symbolically I feel), that the Light is at least thought of with a contemplative heart? I feel that is a great honor for the one who is man, and is God — Jesus. I say this knowing some will differ. That’s fine. Whatever true good is received by anyone is a eventual witness to the character and grace of God.

So in this month of ghouls; warm jolly monsters, and all the fun that goes with it (I have nothing against good-natured company meeting together with a festive theme) I pray you remember this. That God is only good; only loving, only kind, and always infinitely merciful and gracious to us. May He be the Light of the World forever. He has in the very least, and most humble way possible, become a friend of mine, and I know I am his friend as well. For He freed me.

Thank you for your time.

Blessings!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hephzibah says:

    Amen 🙏 I completely understand what you went through. Jesus in us is a reality, I can firmly say!! If not for Him I wonder what would have happened to us!! Thank you Jesus! Great post! Keep encouraging Aaron!

    Like

    1. Aaron G says:

      Thank you! Amen. He is called Emmanuel and Savior for a mighty good reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Debbie says:

    Thanks Aaron, love your writing! I truly enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaron G says:

      Thank you truly! Glad it spoke to you. 🙂

      Like

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