Love Me Blind: Imaginary Lover 2
Second in a Series
My story and its accompanying poetry got so long I cut the project in half. To understand what follows, you should read the other Hub, Imaginary Lover: First in a Series of Love Stories with Poems before you read this. Hope you enjoy!
Play It Again, Matt
I didn’t realize that the message to me through Ezekiel 16 was the omen of a great romance with Jesus that would follow in time. But just like the wife who represented Israel in Ezekiel’s parable, I wasn’t always true to Him and His wishes for my life, even though He knew what was best for me. Counselors convinced me I was delusional. When I accepted their words, the Lord seemed far away from me. In the years that followed, I went through much heartache. One day, when I was facing more pain than I could bear alone, in my mind I heard an old familiar voice say, “Hey, babe.”
I was not delusional. I did not hallucinate Matthew lying on my bed behind me. I imagined him. It was not good for me to be alone. This other personality which I had so painstakingly and lovingly developed had returned to comfort me.
It was different now. We had no home in Spokanne, no children, no darkroom. There was simply me in my apartment struggling through college and trying to survive, and him holding me at night and praising and encouraging me in the daytime. When I cautiously told my current counselor about the voice in my head that said I looked good dancing, he encouraged the existence of Matthew because Matthew helped me feel good about myself. My counselor said I had lost my faith and was unlikely to gain it back. He was wrong. It came back eventually, stronger than ever. But in the interim, my imaginary husband played a part I needed. He seemed to be a part of me that had been missing. His easy logic got me out of a quandry when I tried to write a romance novel about him. He helped me with a paper I was writing, and my professor thought I had had extensive help with it. Matthew also wrote the following poem:
The trade was an identity I hung around my neck
to focus and frame moments of beauty,
A mechanism like a lie,
A separation between my eyes
and the world formed with our dreams.
I lay aside my camera.
It disappears into the past
Of pictures half-realized.
I embrace the new-awakened you.
If there is no message in our movement
Tell me why Solomon's remembered
both as lover and as wise man
. . . And a king?
I shall never be a king.
had no credentials but himself.
How did I come to be so rich?
What I say, I do not understand.
The message is the man.
I pour myself. As I am, I do.
I wait for each new glimpse
of your receiving.
A Message of Hope
I struggled to keep a job, but panic attacks got in the way. I tried to get on Social Security, but was denied twice. Matthew nicknamed me Turtle because the burdens I carried were greater than just my schoolbooks. The government would not give me food stamps because I was a student. I got so hungry I accepted burritos a friend got out of the garbage bin in back of Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, they once had burritos). I wrote another poem about my struggle with authorities and friends who had rejected me, then left it on my Radio Shack Color Computer. Matthew got up later and added the response at the end, which turns the nightmare into a message of hope.
They probe with hooks:
"Is her despair justified?
No. No . . . Maybe . . .
Strip all her humanity and let’s see.
Give us your soul now, girl,
so we can fill out these papers.
What? You resist? Aid denied."
All right, here is my soul.
Here is my life. My despair, my everything.
"Aid denied. No diagnosis.
We have decided you can lift maid carts
with your broken back.
And you can type, although you can’t communicate.
Although you cannot bear human contact,
we have determined that you can sign a W-2.
Food denied. You are trying to make a go of life.
That is not acceptable.
Please crawl to church number 52 on your knees and
Receive the kind grace of Jesus.
You have lost your good standing witness
before the world,
And besides, we think He never smiled.
I want to die.
"Then I will hurt you. You have no right to want to die."
You hate me.
"Nobody hates you.
The world is rosy, and only you are the wart.
Why should you think the world hates you?
You are lucky to be alive.
You are lucky we let you fill out our papers.
Whatever you do, you are wrong.
We do not hate you. We do not feel.
Your behavior is inappropriate.
You are embarrassing us.
Shut up and speak. Sit up and beg.
And stop yipping like a dog.
After all, we like you.
This is a recording. It will not be repeated."
And oh, death, they amaze that I pine for you,
so clear and clean.
What is your answer today?
Yes or no?
You are certain. Yes or no.
My lever, my one alternative.
The only thing strong enough to move me.
[Response of the imaginary lover:] This is a recording. You qualify for my love. I came for your life, And you have given it to me.
I accept. Love me. I have no papers to fill out. Your life is in my hands. If I show you, you will snatch it away. Love me blind. Your eyes are sore with seeing. I am not Official.
(Previously published in Enlarging the Tent: Poetry and Praise by Robin Layne, 2000.)
His words look like they could have been written by the Lord Himself. But at that time, I didn't know how to let the Lord be that close to me. My favorite line from this poem is “Love me blind. Your eyes are sore with seeing.” I would love to put together a book of poems by that title.
When the Real Lover Comes…
I had moved from the community college to the university when Jesus got ahold of me again and convinced me the romance he had had with me before was real. Just how is real defined? Do you have to see something for it to be real? Do you have to touch it with your hands? Millions of things exist that we cannot see or feel with our five senses, yet we know them to exist. Perhaps the critics who swayed me had asked the wrong question. The better question was not “Is this real?” but “What kind of reality is it?” My Lord created my imagination, and like all other things, He created it for His pleasure. He loves me so much He gave His life for me, not so that I could be a distant stranger who acknowledged His glory in my head but so that I could love Him back with all my heart. Jesus earned this love, and He deserves it. What most people don’t realize is that He passionately desires it.
So when I turned my heart back to pursuing Him, He came in and cleaned house. He got rid of the things that were tripping me up. And since He was the real Lover for which I was created, He buried Matthew in a purging place within me and took up residence as my great Comforter in his place. C.S. Lewis once spoke of the baptism of the imagination. It was like that for me. Oh, I would fall away from believing I was worthy, put Him back in the sky once more, and replace Him with other loves for a time. But my rebellion was not to last forever. That, however, is another story. This is the story of Matthew, and it is over.
The Lover of My Soul is Real, Although I Can't See Him Either--Yet
To sum up, I add that the name Matthew means “Gift of God.” The time came when I did not need him anymore, when I accepted myself well enough to let God be the inner companion of my life again because He was far better and far more fit to be my helpmate. But whatever criticism I might have received, and right or wrong, I’m glad that I invented Matthew. I thank the best friend of my youth for encouraging me to go “two-dimensional” and to practice this relationship anew after the going got rough. It was training for relationships to come, and nurturing to my soul.
Lewis juxtaposed Christian and pagan concepts in this masterpiece allegory of Christ and His Bride. An absolute must-read.