The Matchbook Diaries


#12 Miracles and the Fuck-You Position

Rather than stay here in Nairobi, Kenya, we decided to pass and take their word for it.

I’ve watched The Gambler like 20 times (approximately). It’s about the fuck-you position, the position of being utterly unencumbered and un-mastered.

The philosopher-loan-shark in The Gambler says this, The wise man’s life is based around ‘fuck you’. The United States of America is based on ‘fuck you’. You’re a king? You have an Army, the greatest Navy in the history of the world? ‘Fuck you, blow me’. We’ll fuck it up ourselves. (raises his drink) Which we have done. Beautiful fuck you position, lost forever. King George the Third looks like a fuckin’ birthday present.

God gives us that position.  One summer my husband and I got to saying “Fuck you, blow me!” as a joke, referring to the film.  Our son, of course, ought not to have been hearing any of that, but eventually he overheard at the grocery store and thought we’d said, “Fuck you, zucchini!”  And so, every time we went to the fruit and vegetable section that summer we cursed all manner of fruits and vegetables.

Winning the lottery, surviving death, these are not miracles – everyone reading this has already done both of those. Everyone is immortal. Everyone has inherited a kingdom. So, if death is no threat, and you’ve won the lottery, then what?

Maybe there are 5 or 6 big moments in life – huge, gigantic moments when you are aware that something monumental just happened. The longer you live, the harder it is for an event to make your list of top 5 moments. Every single life, no matter the scale, boils down to living with who you are. We eat, we communicate, we shit, we love, we sleep, we fuck, we feel weak, we feel strong, we wonder.  We question and perceive. And we hate.

Hate is human pain (Animals don’t do it.); it’s pain expressed two ways – hate for ourselves or hate for others.  I know hate. When you are as profoundly intimate with evil as I have been, you develop an exceptional capacity for hate. I thought hate was for pushing away the things that hurt me or frightened me. I was wrong. I need not push anything away because I’m capable of accommodating it all, and, there is no place safer than right here inside of my own skin with God in my heart even if what I fear is standing beside me.

God can make hate end.  God gives us the grand miracle of loving ourselves, which is step one. Only God can give us the tolerance, patience, endurance and grace required to love who we are even though we know what we are. That’s the miracle to pray for, the miracle of accepting, of loving, of extending mercy to ourselves. The miracle is sitting down in the dead center of life and letting the truth, all of it, catch up, and then seeing that no matter what has happened, is happening, or will happen, God loves you and me and them, too.

Recognizing the perfection of every day is the hallmark of transcendence, the hallmark of redemption. It’s not lowering the bar to agree to celebrate sunrise, the smell of coffee, and the voice of the one you love. It’s not giving up to stop trying, to stop chasing and planning. There is not more, or better. This is the miracle, that nothing is necessary to achieve peace, nothing is missing from you or from me. Nothing is wrong with us except that we hate. Nothing is required of us to make God love us. God loves us now.  And God can consume hate.

It is possible, then, to wake up into the bright blue morning in the palm of God, saturated in benevolent, meaningful presence. God says that peace is the gift God gives. What does that mean? It means we are not broken. We are not missing bits. We are whole, complete, and, therefore, needless. God is not in the business of adding on stuff, of fixing us up. God is in the business of loving the living shit out of us.

You are perfect. It’s not a catch phrase. I mean it literally. You are perfect, whole, and complete. If there is nothing to chase, then you can really cut loose. You can go rip roaring into the exhilarating world and cavort with what delights you until you are tired and then you can fling yourself down and rest knowing that you lack nothing, fear nothing, and hate nothing.

The miracle is that we can learn to love ourselves as God loves us. It is possible. God knows even the hideous impulses and desires that we elect not to know about ourselves. We are loved, emphatically, sacrificially, forever. It’s not love from God that is lacking. It’s self-love that’s lacking. Pray for that miracle. God, no matter the cost: Show me how to love myself. Make me matter to me. Make me willing to be with me. Make me tolerate the truth.

You can be confident that these prayers will be immediately answered. Hate is wasteful. We can’t survive hate. It’s a miracle that God swallows hate and when God does so hate ceases to exist.  You are perfect, so is everyone else.  Hate is pain.  Don’t hoard it, let it be sacrificed in the name of love.