Posts Tagged With: Faith

Faith, Hope and Love

Faith Hope Love

Life is hard.  One of the sad realities is that we are often lonely souls, even when we are surrounded by other people.  We are born alone, unless we are a twin, or a triplet, or a quadruplet.  We also die alone, unless we are part of a multiple catastrophe like a plane crash, natural disaster, etc., that takes a lot of people at the same time.   But, you get the point. We are individuals.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes… I’ve heard all this bullshit before.  What I’ve learned in my nearly 46 years on this rotating ball of iron is that we are social beings and we need interaction with other humans, with other souls, and no matter what we achieve in this life, gain or lose, it’s our faith, hope and love that matter most.  The rest are the non-essential details.

Sex, money, fame, success, the American dream, etc., all of it is bullshit if we don’t have faith, hope, and love.  Sex alone is fucking boring (pun intended). Sex with someone without love, is even worse, it’s empty and does nothing to abate the loneliness inside the soul and attacks the love we have for ourselves.  Money and all the things it can buy is powerless because it can’t buy love, respect, or faith.  I love having money, for the purpose that I can spend it making the people I love happy, or providing what they need, or being there for them if they need me. If there’s no one to spend my money on, it has no value.  Yes, I need a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes on my body to keep me warm or covered.  Basic essentials are important and it takes money to supply those needs.  But, possessing those things isn’t living, it’s surviving.  Surviving is natural, and some of us do it better than others. Some of us are lazy, stupid, and immature and surviving becomes a major importance in life – but what do we strive to survive for?  I’m not living so that I have somewhere to sleep, food to eat, or somewhere to lay my head.  I don’t want to eat to live, I want live to eat.  I want to see the world, but I want to see it with someone who will enjoy all the places we go.  Like Whitney said, I want to dance – with somebody. I want to laugh – with somebody.  I want to cry – with somebody.  I want to dream – with somebody.  I want be someone’s cheerleader and share in their successes.  I want to be a shoulder they can cry on when their world starts closing in on them and squeezing their hope.  I want to have someone I can come home to and share all the exciting or boring things that happened that day.  Life is meant to be shared.  Love is meant to be shared.

I have been hungry, homeless, and in need, but I’ve never been helpless, or lazy, and I know how to survive.  I have loved with my whole heart, and it’s been broken so many times.  I have many people who love me and care about me, but I’m lonely, my faith is weak, and my hope dies a little more every day.  I have to encourage myself. I often feel unnecessary, lost, and unwanted by this world, most often forgotten.  At times I don’t want to be here anymore because I’ve lost purpose, direction.  I’m not wanted or needed and I know the world would keep turning without me in it.  But inside, deep inside, there is a soul that clings tightly to her faith.  Oh, I get angry and feel betrayed by that faith, but don’t you see – those are all evidence that it’s still there. You don’t get angry at what you don’t believe.  It’s because I believe so deeply that I get so angry.  There’s a soul that holds tightly to hope, a hope for a better tomorrow, a hope for peace, a hope for love, a hope for purpose.   And that same little soul is wrapped in love; love for a hateful and selfish world, love for a beautiful  and kind world, love for those who’ve already gone, those who are right in front of her, and even for those she’s yet to meet.

Sometimes I lose focus and allow that loneliness to consume me, the pain of it to engulf me, and I make bad decisions, do rash things, put myself in harm’s way, and fight the thoughts of giving in and giving up.  I want to, but I fight back.  I put on my smile – my armor, my shield, my sword.  I focus on the positive. I give thanks for the souls that are in my life and who take their time to listen, to let me know they care.

Yes, one day I will die and leave this place behind.  The ONLY things that will matter when I’m gone is the love I left behind.  That’s it.  NOTHING ELSE matters.  When James died, all he left me was love, and it’s gotten me through so many years, so many tears, so many times.  Just a little bit of love. I’ve done some AMAZING things with that little bit of love.  Imagine what I could do with a little bit more, fired by my faith, and infused with my hope?

Take all the sex, money, fame and success and all those materialistic and vain things people kill, betray, and abuse themselves and each other to obtain… and shove them up the world’s proverbial ass.  Give me faith – faith in myself, faith in God, and faith in my friends.  Give me hope – something to chase, something to strive for, something of value to achieve. And give me love – the binder of all things.  With these three things I will conquer the world and myself, and the devils that whisper in my ear that I’m unnecessary, unwanted, unneeded, and unloved.

Faith, Hope and Love.  1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dream, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope and Love

Faith, Hope and Love


Faith, hope and Love

Life has a funny way of sometimes jumping forward, pulling you back, or getting stuck in the present that you can’t move in either direction.  That complexity is what makes it life.  If everything worked the way we thought it should, or our thoughts always went in a forward momentum, or our hearts always moved in a particular direction, we wouldn’t be the complicated human beings we’ve turned out to be.  We’d be happy plastic people.  Isn’t that the way the song goes? We’d be strong in faith, solid in hope, and brimming with love, right?

Anyway, we are complicated, complexed, and often confused.  We are taught morals and values that create walls and boxes, and when life doesn’t go according to plan, we often crumble inside those boxes, doubting ourselves and becoming weak in faith, void of hope, and empty in love.

I was thinking about God and family this morning.  Well, how religion often portrays God, really.  I thought about the scripture in Philippians 4, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication make your requests known to God… “, and I remembered being told more times than I can count not to worry about things, that God is watching out for me, He’s got me in his protection, and He’d make a way for me, to protect me; that my worry was detrimental and contrary to my faith.  I’ve always wondered at those who would quote this scripture to me, if they’d ever suffered any real loss, any real tragedy, any real heartbreak, any real disappointment, any real set back or failure, because I had.  For many years I felt weak in my faith because I still worried about the things that threatened my welfare, my children, my family, or the life I was trying to provide for them.  Yet when I expressed those worries or fears, told with a smile NOT to worry, to have faith, to trust God would see me through it. Yeah, like all the things I already went through, that’s what I feared.  Many of those things I worried about happened no matter my faith.  Instead of feeling the strength I had often felt growing up in a severely abusive childhood, I felt like a failure, weak, and a disappointment to a god that was supposed to love and protect me.  But it’s easy to talk warfare when you’ve never been in true battle. It’s easy to talk of a father’s love if you’ve never known a father’s love.  But, what of us orphans who never knew love, never had a father to protect us, but a father from whom we needed protection? What of a soldier on the battlefield of life, one that’s seen the brutality of war, the ugliness of mankind? How can we ask them not to be afraid?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past, not really the experiences I’ve had, but the woman I used to be.  I was strong, but so lost.  I was damaged, yet impenetrable.  But what’s changing for me now is love.  I’ve known love, but I didn’t quite know how to accept it.  I’ve loved deeply, but I didn’t know how to express it.  I’d like to say it’s because of the love that’s growing for my Dominican Marine that’s creating/inspiring this new outlook, and perhaps that’s part of it, but it’s more of the love I’m receiving from him, from my best friends Jenna and Kenny, from my kids, but mostly it’s from the love I’m receiving for and from myself.

I heard my ex-husband is getting remarried.  I’m happy for him, because I’ve only ever wanted him to find and feel love.  Everyone knew we married for convenience, to fulfill responsibility, and I could never be the woman he wanted, the woman he loved, and he often made sure I was reminded I was not wanted, or desired, or acceptable.  I am not without blame, because I always knew I was never in love with him either, though I respected and was faithful to him, I couldn’t give him the love he needed. What hurt most in our divorce wasn’t our separation, because now we both had an opportunity to find the love we desired, but the loss and separation of family.  His family was my family for two decades, and really the only real family I ever knew.  His parents were the only parents I ever really had and I loved them dearly. Still do. I miss them. Now they’ll have a new daughter and I hope it’s one they can be proud to love.  The bond I have with my natural brothers isn’t one of love, but one of survivorship, and while that bond brings us together and keeps us connected on some level, it’s also the foundation of the huge wall that keeps us separated, well… that and the lying, stealing, cheating, drugs, etc. My kids love me, but they don’t need me, and they’re getting on with their lives knowing they don’t have to worry about me. I loved them more than myself and only hope they understood and felt that love from me. I often fear I damaged them because of my own lack of being able to show what was inside beneath my thick armor.

I am a vagabond, a woman without a home, without a people, without a family, yet I am a very blessed woman because I am rich in love, in friendships, and in faith.  While I worry about the cares of this world, I am not afraid. Not because I cling to a scripture, to a promise, or to a faith in a god to protect me, or a man to save me.  I cling to a knowledge that shit happens, but I’m strong and I’ll overcome it, and I’m not alone, because LOVE is with me.  God is love.  God is with me. I love me. I love my kids. I love my friends. I love my Dominican. That love … that love is my strength.  That love helps me heal from a past, gives me hope for my future, and surrounds me as I walk through my present… in all its complexity and simplicity.  Faith is good. Hope is beautiful.  But, love is the greatest of all these things.

Till next time,

~ Love’s Lover

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If… If… If… People Lie

If If If People Lie

If.  I was once told that “if” was the biggest little word to ever exist.  That isn’t a lie.

Everyone posts these meme’s all the time with messages that sound good, but has anyone ever stopped and really read them, tried to understand what they’re really saying, or did they get caught up in the moment because they said something itching ears wanted to hear?  Everyone has the answer… to every problem. Yet all those answers come with a hitch, a ransom, a sacrifice, an obligation, or/and a price.  If… If… If… You know what I’ve learned?  It’s all bullshit. I lived my life believing IF… If I obeyed, then life would be okay. Well, I tested that theory many, many, many, many times. People lie.  Let me tell you a story.

I can remember being about seven years old and sneaking off one morning to catch a church bus.  I wanted to be like my next door neighbor, I can still remember her last name – Janosek. I wanted to be a regular girl, wear frilly pretty dresses, have girl toys, have two normal parents that weren’t handicapped or abusive, parents who had real jobs and not drug dealers, who went to church and PTA meetings.  I wanted to be free to laugh and be silly, be anything but who and what I was.  It didn’t seem like such an impossible dream, but to me at seven it seemed alien and a world away; impossible.  But impossible didn’t stop me, it never did.  So, I dressed as much like a girl (I was an extreme tomboy with five brothers) as I could and stood at the road, determined to wave that church bus down.  I caught that bouncy bus not knowing where it’d take me, what would happen to me, or when or if it’d ever bring me home.  People lie.

I ended up being delivered to a little country church where I was shuffled off to a gymnasium with several other children and told a story about a man sacrificing his son for his faith. I thought it barbaric that God would tempt a man to kill his own son in order to test his faith.  Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around, parents sacrifice themselves to save their children?  That, of course, wasn’t the life lessons I’d learned by that age.  A parent killing their kid for their own interest… that was easy, that was normal.  What a manipulation.  People lie.

I was pulled to the side and asked if I wanted to go to heaven, yet I had no concept of heaven.  All I’d heard of heaven was a place in the fluffy white clouds, wings, and golden harps.  That sounded boring to me, so I told the lady that I didn’t want heaven, I just wanted an earth where people didn’t hurt each other, that I didn’t think this place was so bad, except for the people in it. I thought the earth was beautiful, even magical, if the people in it would stop hurting it and each other.  She quickly informed me that in heaven there was only peace and that nobody ever cried.  I didn’t believe that, because I cried all the time.  I didn’t cry to just cry, and I sure as hell didn’t cry where other people could see me.  My dad beat me so bad one time I passed out, because he wanted to see me cry. I refused.  In private  I cried because I hurt, because I was scared, because I hoped and constantly had those hopes dashed with violence.  Crying made me realize I was real, it reminded me that I could feel pain, but also joy.  Why did I want to go somewhere and not feel anything?  They were not selling me on this whole heaven thing.  I guess she could see that, so she changed her tactics and started telling me of the OTHER consequences of not being saved – the idea of eternal damnation, a life filled with violence and pain.  I wondered in that moment what I had possibly done at seven years old to have been damned while I was still alive.  I was a little smartass and told the woman, “It’s not so bad.  You get used to it.” Obviously that wasn’t the right answer. So, I soon learned of the lake of fire, torture, demons, the devil and brimstone.   I still wasn’t scared.  I was raised with a pack pit bulls, after all. People lie.

So, this determined lady was hell bent on saving my soul, she changed her tactics once again and asked me if I loved anyone enough to die for them and started telling me about the story of Jesus, how he was an innocent man yet tortured, beaten, and then killed to save us all.  It was the only story that really peaked my interest, but I couldn’t understand why this one man’s sacrifice was any different than what I had done regularly to protect my brothers, or to protect my mother.  I’d taken beatings for them, I’d given them my food at times, I’d kept my mouth shut and endured the worst of humiliation and abuse at the threat of losing them, being taken from them, or separated.  I know, had given the choice, I would have died for them, taken a bullet in their place. I dreamed of doing that very thing quite often. That was an easy decision.  So what made this man’s decision any better than mine, or any other human being that would do the same for someone they loved? I’d learned enough history by this time to know people died for other people all the time, yet we didn’t worship them. Why him? Telling me that I was supposed to love somebody because they first loved me and died for me,  was a hard concept for me to understand.  I wanted to scream, “Prove it!” People lie.

It took me nearly 20 years to reconsider that answer, because the next thing this lady did was scare the hell out of me by making statements like I needed to be washed in this man’s blood in order to be redeemed, dunked in some water to be cleaned, and then I needed to obey him and keep all his commands so that I will be worthy enough to enter heaven.  I knew I’d already flunked this test, because I sure as hell wasn’t about to let somebody pour their blood over me, nobody was going to push me under the water, and I was too stubborn to blindly obey a bunch of rules I didn’t understand.  I just smiled, shook my head to tell her what she wanted to hear, watched her shed a few fake tears for me, schedule a baptism for the next Sunday, gave me a Bible, gave me some candy, and then put me back on the bus that brought me home.  I never went back to that church. But, I never forgot that day. People lie.

I kept hearing that woman’s voice in my head saying, “If you believe in Jesus, he will save you.” I needed saving in the worst way. I once wished in the middle of a hurricane for Superman to save me, but he never came.  He ended up being a lie, a figment of someone else’s imagination. Don’t even get me started on Santa.  Biggest disappointment of all. People lie.

My next memory had me lying in the grass, staring into the sky, wondering what was beyond the clouds, beyond the blue, beyond the stars.  I watched the treetops sway in the wind, the ants crawl between the blades of glass, the beauty of the sunlight in a drop of water falling from the spigot into a tin bucket.  It’s the most peaceful and profound moment I’d ever felt in my life.  I was just a child, a human, and for the first time in my miserable life, I wondered why I existed at all, why I lived the life I lived, who I was, what was my purpose, and that if a real god existed, did he see me, know what I endured, know how I hurt?  That was the first time I ever prayed.  I whispered into the wind, “If you’re real then I want to know the real you. Let me see the truth. People lie. Save me, please.”

There was a wooden plaque that I’d sometimes stare at for hours.  It read, “If Christianity were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I can’t even begin to tell  you the amount of hypocrisy it represented, especially for this waif of an abused Jewish girl, but I’ll never forget it.  I sometimes wonder whatever happened to that plaque. It shaped my mind more than I ever realized. Needless to say, Jesus never showed up at my doorstep to save me.  Until the time I was 23, I lived in hell, in survival mode, hating the world, determined not to let it beat me.  I honestly don’t know how I survived those years, but it was at this time I traded one hell for another, a different kind of hell, a hell that transferred the outside pain to the inside. I was no longer fighting for my life every day, instead I was fighting for my soul. When I lost my first hope at real love, a part of me died.  I finally became a Janosek, I hid among middle-class idealism, I became it’s poster child, only it wasn’t what I thought it would be. People lie.

For the next twenty years I obeyed, I lived a life of obedience, to my family, to my husband, to my church, to my god, to my community, to everything.  My dream was that my children would not have the life I had, no matter what it cost me.  I gave it my everything – I gave it my faith, my trust, my loyalty, my gifts, my skills, my heart… I gave it my all.  I studied, I learned, I volunteered, I tithed (everything – money, time, gifts, abilities), I prayed EVERY DAY with sincerity.  If ANYONE in this world could pray more sincere that I did with my nose in the carpet for 20 years, then NO ONE has hope. I believed with every ounce of my being… that IF… ‘my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, seek my face, turn from their sins, then will I open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing they’d not have room enough to contain.  If… I believed I would receive.  If… I was obedient and faithful… my husband would love me, my kids would love me, my family would love me, my church would love me. People lie.

I didn’t just pray once and expected the world to just fall into place in an instant.  I prayed faithfully for nearly 20 years.  I have journals and journals and journals of my prayers.  I’d crawl into bed next to a husband every night who didn’t want me, most nights crying myself to sleep, wondering why I wasn’t enough. I watched one of my kids run away from home, leave me worried for years if they were even alive or suffering, blaming myself for being too hard.  I watched a family that promised to love me forever disappear along with the divorce papers, along with other family members that stole from me, lied to me,  and used me.  I watched a church full of people who told me they loved me nearly every day just vanish behind their church doors.  I suppose as long as I looked like them, talked like them, and walked into their doors I was worthy.  Hmmmm?  I wonder where the lost sheep really gather? People lie.

So, here I am, bombarded everyday with the meme’s of life, seeking my own truth, trying to save my own soul, not for a heaven or to avoid a hell, and not to find love. People lie, especially to themselves. That includes me.  I don’t have any answers, but I know they’re not found in “if”.  That’s all bullshit.  I found love only when I chose to love myself.  Salvation?  Everyone has their own faith, even if they think they have something else.  Quoting scripture to me is fruitless.  Quoting meme’s, philosophies, logic, ideals… those are all fruitless too.  Quit trying to save me or change me, just love me.  If  you can’t do that, just go away.  I don’t want you. I sure as hell don’t need you. I’m still lying in the grass, staring up into the heavens, wondering, whispering into the wind, “People lie. Are you real, because I sure as hell know I am.”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Image by:  – Lying in the Grass by Hermann Hesse

Categories: Musing, T.L. Gray | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Focused Leap

Focused Leap

I find it hard to really focus sometimes.  I don’t think it’s because of some medical reason, but more of huge mental and psychological issues within myself.  When I find myself looking for distraction it often means I’m wanting to hide, to escape, to avoid, to protect.  But from what?  It could one of a million things.

I’m a fighter.  I’m strong-willed.  I’m confident and courageous.  But, I’m also very afraid.  I’ve been burned. I’ve fallen hard.  I’ve been so down, so lost, and so hopeless at times that I didn’t want to live anymore.  I’ve seen and experienced horrors that would make nightmares pale in comparison.  Yet, I have survived.  I have overcome. I have defeated.  Though rejected in the most cruel way, I still hold hope to be loved.  Though abandoned, I still hope to be wanted.  Though despised, I still hold hope to be desired.

There are no promises.  There are no guarantees.  There is only hope.  All evidence points to an impossible existence, but I need only to remind myself of all the impossible things I’ve already accomplished.  The only thing stopping me is choosing to focus.  Once I make up my mind, turn my attention toward the thing I desire most, that’s when I leap.  I always leap.  It always requires a leap of faith.  I leap knowing I could fall, knowing I could crash, knowing it could destroy me.  But even more… I know not leaping would kill me.

What focused leap do you face?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Oh, My Weary Soul

God, this world is so messed up, and I’m broken in so many shattered pieces, there are just some days too heavy for me to bear.  I’ve lived in this valley for a long time, actually I think I was born here, and I can’t seem to find my way out.

I’m so tired of saying ‘goodbye’.  What the hell is good about bye?  What the hell is so wrong with me that I’m never enough to fight for?  I don’t think it’s that I’m not enough, but that I’m more than they deserve.  Because I know I sure as hell deserve a lot better.  I deserve something real, and the world is full of cowards too afraid to be real.

I have scars all over my body.  I try to hide them, not because I’m ashamed, but because I also carry the inner scars that were created from them and don’t want to share them with just anyone.  People are strange creatures.  We’re controlled by our fears, and often can’t see a person beyond their skin.  We lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that our faith, our beliefs, our values, or our philosophies guide and lead us in our decisions, but they don’t… our fear does.

I have a friend who says he fears nothing, but he’s lying to himself.  He runs as I hard as I do, perhaps even harder, because he’s afraid.  But I don’t have to tell him. In the silence, he knows the truth.  However, knowing the truth doesn’t keep him from being an asshole.  Even still, he’s beautiful and I love him, even though I also hate him for his vanity and cowardice.

I heard a quote this morning from Jim Carrey – “My soul is not contained within the limits of my body, my body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul.” The Journey of Purpose.  I believe this.  When I look at someone, I look beyond their flesh and try to see their soul.  When I tell someone they’re beautiful, it isn’t their body I’m talking about, but their soul.

Who sees my soul?  Who can see past the smile or beyond the scars?  I believe no one.  I’m just the girl who ______ (fill in the blank).

My soul is weary. My heart is crushed.  My faith is weak.  I’m tired of carrying this mangled scarred body around.  I can’t run any more. I wasn’t meant to run, but to fly.  I’m lost.

Categories: Inspirational, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Beauty in Indifference

No Beauty in Indifference

I clearly remember the day when after years and years of running, I finally stopped, turned around, and faced the God I feared, the God I hated, the God I loved but was certain hated me. I was 24 years old and had already lived and survived three lifetimes, I knew hell, and hell knew me.

I remember the moment I put my nose to the carpet of a little country church, warm tears dripping from the tip, darkening the fibers as they fell.  I sincerely prayed for the first time since I was a little girl.  I didn’t ask for blessings, or prosperity, or health, or love, or proof of existence, or even a miracle.  With every fiber of my being, I asked God to open my eyes and ears, so that I could see something different in humanity.   All I could see was the ugliness.  All I knew was how to survive monsters, to look for the danger in their words and actions, to assess my risk, to read the body language of liars, crooks, thieves, and predators.  I needed to believe in goodness, gentleness, kindness, trust, and love.  I needed to see the good potential in people, to be able to see God.

There wasn’t a flash of light or the sound of a trumpet call, but somehow over the years I began to see and hear differently.  I still saw the ugliness, the risk, the danger, the lies… but I also saw the potential for goodness, the motive between the lines, love colored with hope and sewn with faith.  I begin to love humanity even as we writhed in the midst of our ugliness.

What breaks my heart is how cruel we are to one another.  Cruelty doesn’t always come from monsters.  The greatest cruelty I’ve ever experienced didn’t come from the hand of a violent predator, but the gentle hand of indifference.  To not care, to not feel, to not fear, to not love is a great cruelty.  It’s just as cruel as being overbearing in narrow-minded views, excluding those who may think differently or outside their boxed ideas – this includes all religious, political or social mediums.  The way humanity treats each other is both great and tragic.  I see and hear the good and the bad, love and hate, and the cruelest of them all is indifference.  There is no beauty in indifference.

Love me or hate me, but at least feel something.  The cruelest act I’ve ever experienced is to simply be forgotten. I seem to be easily forgotten, dismissed, passed over as if I don’t exist. God tells us to love one another.  That doesn’t mean overlook our ugliness and blindly cling to false truth and allowing the people we love to continually abuse us – but to see both our sins and our goodness, to see the truth and the lies, and then in the face of that truth choose to love, choose to hope, choose to see the potential for greatness.  Forgive.  Not forget… never forget, and sometimes walk away if needed, but forgive.

The thing I love most about my friends are not what they do, or what they have done, but what I know they’re capable of doing and becoming, and their capacity to love.  We all have sins, failures, attitudes, hurts, triggers, scars, and walls.  ALL of us.  None are perfect or perfectly good.  But with love – all things are possible.  That is why I choose to love, to hope, to believe what my natural eyes can’t see or my ears can’t hear.  It’s why I still hope when people push me away or put up their walls to block me out, and continue to love them even when they stop loving me.  Yes, I walk away, but that doesn’t mean I stopped seeing them for the beautiful creatures, the beautiful, complex, deeply layered human beings that they are comprised.

My faith in God has been shaken, especially these last few years, and especially facing mortality.  While I can’t always see and hear who, what, where, when and why… I am still that same young woman with her nose pressed in the carpet and opening her heart to her god, wanting something real, something more and bigger than what she was capable of doing on her own.

So, yes… I’m peculiar, strange, different.  I’m a sinner like anyone else. God granted me my prayer. I can see and hear beyond the image, the masks of flesh we project and think protects us, covers our sins, hides our vulnerabilities, and colors our beauty.   It was so much easier to hate humanity.  Loving them is the hardest of all. Loving them when they don’t love me back is downright cruel.  I wish I could close my eyes and cover my ears and go back into the darkness.  Instead, Beautiful… these tears now fall for you. I wish you could see what I see and hear what I hear and know… what a beautiful soul you truly are. My last hope is that my god sees me in like manner.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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The Image We Project

The Image

I really need to stop looking beyond the projected image, because it gets me in trouble every time.  Most often it just gets me hurt.  I suppose I do it because I have this insane idea ingrained into my head that if I treat others how I would want to be treated it would just magically happen in return.  It’d have to be magic, right?  Because, seriously, who else walks around thinking about how they treat people?  Who spends the time to peel back the layers in an attempt to really get to know someone?  Who looks beyond the skin, the image, the resume, the labels, the skills, the talents?  I tell myself all the time… “You do, surely there are others.”  Well, the magic hasn’t happened yet.  I don’t know why I keep getting surprised and hurt, but I do.

I look at the world around me, and I see example after example of a culture and society that can’t even get beyond skin color, much less any deeper layer.  We’ve got riots going on all over the country because of racial bigotry and hate (and that’s not aimed at only the ‘white-privilege’ community, but the ‘black-oppressed’ community too).  Hate can’t see past the outer shell and it sure as hell don’t solve anything.  I don’t want to hear one word on either side of this debate – because at this point all I see is hate, and violence, and stupidity.  Whatever efforts were made to open up a much needed dialogue, to peel back another layer, has been destroyed when the fanatics took over and started robbing, looting, burning and acting like dumb-fucking idiots.  This whole situation has become lost and out of control and the ones fueling it, stirring it up, are the biggest hatemongers of them all.  (No, I don’t want to debate, talk, or discuss it in anyway.  Don’t respond to this post with anything to do with this whole issue. I’m done with it.  Seriously, I’m done.  I won’t engage and you’re wasting your time.)

Want to know how someone feels about something or someone, get them angry.  It is how a person responds to adversity that you see them for who they really are, what they really feel, what they really think – things they’ve suppressed, hidden, and pushed down.  It doesn’t mean they can’t change their minds – and once felt, always felt is a myth.  Feelings change.  Thoughts change.  Responses change.  That’s why forgiveness is so important.  Don’t hate them for how they feel at that moment – try to figure out why and then work on changing it.  But it does reveal a part of the truth, most often things they don’t want to admit even to themselves.  I know it helps me see what I sometimes can’t recognize within myself.  When I get angry, I begin to look around to see if I can recognize what hurt me, because 99% of the time my anger is a result of being hurt, most often me hurting myself.

Do I always succeed and rightly recognize my triggers?  Hell no.  I’m often just as wrong in those assessments as I am in trying to understand the motive behind someone else’s aggression.  I’m a hot mess and I know it.  I can’t help but wonder, surely there’s others like me.  Does everyone have all their shit together, but me?  Does everyone else always know the right thing to do, the right way to feel, the right way to respond, the right way to diffuse and understand the situation, except me?  Does anyone even give a damn to find out what’s beneath this outer layer?  Can they see the eyes behind the mask, or just the shiny glitter on the outside?  Can they see the pain behind the smile?

I just want to close my eyes. I want to be like a turtle and hide within my shell.  Most of all, I want to stop feeling, stop caring, stop hoping, stop loving.  My cruel blind father introduced me to many of the evils in this world, but he also taught me how to see it differently – not with my eyes but with my mind and my heart.  My invalid mother with MS taught me the cruelty of guilt, but also by taking care of her the beauty in sacrifice.  My weak brothers taught me the stark reality of betrayal, but also what it meant to protect.  My indifferent husband taught me the pain of being unloved, but also the pride of being faithful and dutiful and the strength to love myself.

It’s hopeless.  I want to submit, but submission requires trust, and trust is something I don’t think I can ever give.  I’ve tried.  Damn, I’ve tried so many times.  I’ve failed. I don’t even trust myself. My fear, my stubbornness, and my lack of trust – keeps me doing the stupid shit that causes people to get angry and push me away and makes me run.  Oh, I run.  It’s what I do best.  I try so hard not to run, because I know running doesn’t solve the problems, just packs them down deeper so they can surface and cause an explosion that ruins any progress I might have made. Yet staying – staying incites hope, and hope leads to pain.  It’s painful to hope for something and then watch that hope die. Faith has you believing you’re something more than what you’re not, and it’s awfully painful when you’re made of aware of how you’re really perceived, what your true standing is in someone else’s sight.

I love myself. I think I’m a beautiful, passionate, loving, faithful and honest person. I love to laugh, and I really love to make others laugh.  I’m a natural cheerleader.  I truly care about the people I’ve chosen to let into my inner circle, which is small, tight, and something I protect with vivacity.  I’d do anything to protect them.  Everything I am, everything I have, every gift, talent, and knowledge I possess,  I share with them – without hesitation – as long as I’m wanted.  I’ve lived too many years giving to those who didn’t want me… I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t.  Finding out that I’m no one to those I deeply cared for, that I’m nowhere near as precious to them as they were to me… takes my breath away.  I literally can’t breathe. But I will.  I will inhale …and exhale …and wipe the tears away …and go on with my day.

Till next time,


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More of Heaven

More of Heaven


Many of you that have followed this blog for some time have heard some of the ugly stories of the life I grew up in and the violence I had witnessed.  I have every human reason to hate, to be angry, to be a victim – yet I choose love.  Because of the hell I’ve experienced, I strive to fill my life with things that make this world beautiful, to feel a bit of heaven in the here and now.  I don’t care if you believe in Heaven or Hell, God or gods, or no god at all.  That’s not what this post is about.  I’m so sick of religion. I’m so sick of people hurting, killing, and being hateful to one another in the name of their religion – whether it be Muslim, Jew, Christian, Atheist, Liberal, Feminist, Conservative, Scientist, Gay, Straight, Black, White, or Zombie Survivalist … I’m sick of it all.  Everyone speaks for their god – but no one listens.  Their agenda is not about loving each other as human beings, but about being ‘right’.

I have my faith, and that belief is between me and my god, and it’s really none of anyone else’s business.  I share my beliefs with those  I consider my friends and are close to me, but I never try to force my faith or beliefs on them, or judge them for their own should it differ from mine.  I have to say, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m surrounded by beautiful people who love me and walk in many different faiths and beliefs.  I’m not threatened or offended by our differences. I embrace them and cherish our individuality.

It truly breaks my heart to see all this anger and hate in the world.  I know, I know… there’s no more hate now than there has ever been throughout history.  Each generation, each culture, each race, and each faith has their own horrid story of hate.  It still makes my stomach turn to know many of my ancestors were slaves and dehumanized, others were herded into gas chambers like cattle, and others were starved, abused, and tortured for standing up for their beliefs.  I’ve watched young girls being bought and sold as sex slaves, seen fathers and brothers shot during bad drug deals, mothers separated from their crying children to be hauled off to prison, women raped, men brutally beaten, and no one there to save them or make a difference.  For so many years I hated the idea of God because these things existed. I accused Him for their existence and found the whole world guilty of hypocrisy and lies.  I then realized I could be another one of those hypocrites, or I can choose to love instead.  I’m not saying there aren’t things I dislike, because I do, but I don’t allow hate to consume me.  I see people as human beings first before anything else.

What you may not know about me is that I’ve died twice, at least twice I know about and remember.  Perhaps more if some of the stories I heard as a child are true – like having to be rushed to the hospital at 6 months because I stopped breathing and turned blue – was told I almost succumbed to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom) or riding on top of a car at 5 as my 6-year old brother drove through a field and a barbed-wire fence with me on top.  My childhood is filled with such stories of danger, (Wow, I think I understand where my desire for extreme activities come from now.)yet I am still alive.  But that has not always been the case.

When I was 4-years old I was attacked by a neighbors Doberman Pincher.  I received over 114 stitches in my head (I have a nasty scar as a reminder).  I remember the moment of the attack.  I remember the hospital.  I remember what it felt like when I stopped feeling, stopped hearing, stopped seeing, stopped smelling and stopped hurting.  I didn’t see a white tunnel or a bright light, but I did hear someone call me and I remember a feeling.  I can still feel it right now.  I can’t describe it, not in any sense to give it justice, only it was a knowing, a completeness, and what I believe was love.

Before I get back to this feeling, let me tell you of the second time I died.  This is an incident I’ve rarely share with anyone.  I still have the scar on my chest where adrenaline was jabbed into my heart to get it restarted.  Seeing it reminds me sometimes that I’m human, fragile and mortal. But I’d really like to forget that day if I could.  I remember looking into the blue sky not being able to breathe and knowing I was about to die.  I saw all the lights around me dim, first to gray and then to complete blackness.  All sound faded.  All feeling evaporated.  I realized I didn’t need to breathe anymore. Again, no tunnel, no white light, just a knowing of who I was – not who I thought I was.  I had no name, yet I was known.  I had no body, yet I existed.  I was complete and filled with love.

I believe this feeling I felt is what we often think of as heaven. Not a place to go after we die if we’re good enough, but a place that is here and now and accessible when we love one another. The reason I believe this has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with being able to feel glimpses of that same feeling during different moments in my life.  I feel it sometimes in a smile, in a touch, in an expression of affection, in an act of kindness from a stranger or someone I care about, or in a moment of bravery.  I’ve felt it while lying in a pair of strong arms listening to a heartbeat.  I’ve felt it in a gentle kiss. I’ve felt it watching someone care about someone else.

I was never loved by my parents or my family when these two moments happened.  I didn’t know what love was – but I have searched for it, searching for this particular feeling ever since.  The more I found it in the world, the less angry and hateful I became.  I still have work to do, I still have walls and defenses and wounds, but I never stop hoping to fill my life with more of this love… more of this heaven.

Recently I told a friend of mine that feelings lie, feelings change, and that I don’t trust them.  He said I was retarded sometimes and wondered how such a smart person could be so obtuse.  He added that I was amazing – one big contradiction of contradictory contradictions, and said, “You’ve been hurt so much you absolutely forgot how to be positive.” I, of course, disagreed with him.  Don’t you just love it when somebody tells you something about yourself, but you didn’t see it, and then all of a sudden you see it and hate that they were right?

I had forgot about that feeling, until I felt it slowly sinking into my very bones as I felt a pair of strong arms around me and I listened to a steady heartbeat and fell asleep.  I don’t sleep much, but especially when other people are around, but I fell asleep wrapped in that feeling – the same feeling I felt both times I died. If that was heaven, I want more.  Most of all I want the world to want this heaven too and to stop hating one another.  Stop killing our children, stop putting babies and animals in overheated cars, stop stealing our young women and forcing them into sexual slavery, stop poisoning and bombing each other, just stop it, stop it, stop it.  Fight for your cause, but not each other.  Fight for your faith, but not at the cost of humanity.  Fight for your freedom, but not at the price of someone else’s enslavement.

There are people in this world I don’t like.  There are evil people who I fear have no hope of redemption because they possess no soul.  I’m not naïve, I’m just hopeful in a hopeless world.  I simply want more of heaven.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Complicated Simplicity

How much pain can a person truly handle before they break?  A person can break, I’ve seen it, experienced it, and am not convinced once broken we can ever be whole again.  But can we survive?

The hardest part of my faith for me is to trust that God will not allow more than I can handle.  That is His promise.  That is a promise I don’t understand.  It seems simple enough, but complexity and simplicity often happen at the same time.  Complicated Simplicity. What an oxymoron.

I’ve looked into the eyes of a person and saw fire – flames of life burning in them so bright they can’t help but make the world around them sparkle with hope, joy, laughter. It’s easy to believe in those moments in that promise.

I’ve also looked into a pair of eyes and witnessed such pain and depravation and literally watched the color of their irises dull and their whole countenance pale in despair. This is when we hope for that promise most of all.

I’ve also looked into a pair of eyes as their souls slipped away and death consumed them. It’s not something that can really be explained, nor is it something I would recommend.  Where is the promise here?

All these experiences leave behind scars… a tendril of essence that becomes recognizable when you see it operating in all the other sets of eyes in the world.  I truly do believe the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul.  I want to hold onto that promise, but I doubt, and I waiver, and I fear.

When my walls are up I avoid allowing people to look into my eyes.  When my walls are down I seek as much eye contact as possible. Our bodies can lie.  Our mouths can lie.  Our hands can lie.  Our thoughts can lie.  Our feelings are often the biggest liars of all.  But the eyes… the eyes can’t lie.  In this new technological world, it’s becoming easier to lie because we feel comfortable behind our screens.  Black font replaces our attempts to conceal our eyes, mostly from ourselves.  Again, another example of Complicated Simplicity.

 What complicated-simple truth would my eyes say today?  I’m reminded of a quote from my first published novel where Cain rolls over, away from the fire, away from the view of his new friend.  Tears spill out the corner of his eyes and he whispers, “No more.  I can bear no more.” Unlike my character Cain, I’m not immortal. I can break.

There was a moment when I opened my eyes this morning.  A brief moment – where time stood still and the universe turned toward me, and waited for an answer.  I had a choice.  Live or leave.  Fight or give up.  All thoughts left my mind.  All feeling left my body. Then I heard my spirit singing the soft echo of a song I haven’t heard in years from a group called Switchfoot ….

Welcome to the planet.

Welcome to existence.

Everyone’s here.  Everyone’s here.

Everybody’s watching you now.

Everybody waits for you now.

What happens next?  What happens next?


I dare you to move!

I dare you to move!

I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor!

I dare you to move!

I dare you to move!

Like today never happened, today never happened before.


Welcome to the fall out.

Welcome to resistance.

The tension is here.  The tension is here.

Between who you are and who you could be.

Between how it is and how it should be.


I dare you to move!

I dare you to move!

I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor!

I dare you to move!

I dare you to move!

Like today never happened, today never happened before.


Maybe redemption has stories to tell.

Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell.

Where can you run to escape from yourself?

Where you gonna go?  Where you gonna go?

Salvation is here.


I moved.  I got up. I put my feet on the floor.  I breathed.   So complex, yet so simple. Today, I’m still broken but I’m alive.  So, yesterday was not more than I could handle. I’m not saying I handled it well, just that I survived.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Unlimited Mysteries



“There are unlimited mysteries waiting to be discovered among our stars, within our atoms, and to everything between and beyond.  Yet, the biggest mysteries of all are not anything that can be learned – they must be felt.”~ T.L. Gray


I’m a facts and figures nerd.  I like to know how things work, where things come from, what are the results, reactions and consequences to every thing, every choice, every action.  I try to see beyond the obvious and read between the lines.  Needless to say – this has led to some great discoveries, but it’s also led to some painful truths.

But, it’s those other mysteries I can’t figure out.  While I may not know all the secrets to the universe, and understand that I’ve only begun to understand this vast universe to which I’m a part, there are things within and around us that I don’t think will and can ever be defined – not in its fullness or entirety.

What are these undefinable facts, truths and mysteries?  Faith, Hope and Love.

All three of the these things defy logic. They are as unique to each of us, as we are to each other – meaning that their meanings change from person to person, yet they still hold to some universal understandings.  The very things that make us unique, our experiences, our culture, our personalities help shape and filter the understanding we each have of these three things.

I only want to focus on one at the moment… love.  We try to set rules, boundaries, reasoning and logic… yet I find case after case, example after example of exceptions. I get it WRONG… all the time!  Yet my failure to identify, explain, or justify doesn’t change the fact that I feel and experience it.  It is most often the source of my greatest joy and my worst pain.  It doesn’t apply to the situations I want.  It feels what I don’t want it to feel, for who I don’t choose, when I don’t choose it. I have no control to turn it on or off, and even sometimes I don’t realize it’s been activated until an absence reveals what my mind never acknowledged.

Love has really caused some major difficulties for me lately.  It refuses to leave a place that often causes me a lot of pain, and showed up unexpectedly somewhere else.  I didn’t see it, would have vehemently denied it, but now that there’s an absence… a hole… I feel the empty vacuum, as if the earth has went off balance and my thoughts are muddled… and I have to say… it really hurts. Had I seen it, recognized it, acknowledged it, perhaps I could have made different choices.   Someone recently called me stupid for some of the thoughts I have on love.  I think they might be right.  Now, that leaves room for the other two immeasurable mysteries to play a part… Hope and Faith.  But whatever you do, don’t ask me to define them.  I can’t.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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