Invisible Friend Jesus and the Baggage

Invisible friend Jesus sat beside my bed, his back against the wall and his long legs pexels-photo-463467.jpegstretched out in front of him. He was reading a Janet Evanovich hardback. Stacks of books lay beside him, and the walls around him were plastered with collages, drawings and graffiti.

“There you are,” I said.

He glanced up from his book and raised an eyebrow.

I pressed my cheek into my pillow and sighed. “I feel like shit.”

He marked his place in the book with one of the socks on my floor and set the book down. “That doesn’t surprise me. Look at all that junk piled on you.”

“Huh? There’s no junk piled on me.”

He rolled his eyes and stood up, then began lifting things off my back. He stacked them up against the wall: suitcases. Duffel bags. Boxes. There were enough to fill a U-Haul.

“Oh,” I said. “I guess there was junk piled on me.” The weight gradually lifted until he’d removed the last bag, and I lay there, dizzy with relief, as he unzipped one of the suitcases.

He dug in it and pulled out a plush duck, one of its wings torn, its fur stained and matted with what might have been spilled mocha. “Why are you keeping this?”

I sat up, stretching my newly-freed limbs and rolling my neck. I shrugged. “Donno.”

“And this?” He pursed his lips quizzically, holding up an acid wash jeans jacket with the arms cut off and Metallica written on the back in Sharpie.

“Ew, throw that one away.”

He tossed it into the air, and it disappeared. A feeling of relief and comfort stole over me.

I leaned back on the wall and watched him as he continued to dig through the detritus of my personal baggage. “How long can you carry that stuff for me?”

He shot me a smirking glance. “As long as you want. Are you sure you don’t want me to throw it away, though?”

The idea of removing all that weight from my shoulders forever was incredible. Amazing. What kind of beautiful life could I have if I weren’t weighed down by that junk? But the thought whisked away, my shoulders slumping. “I couldn’t live without my baggage. That’s just not how the world works.”

“If you say so.” He gave me a lopsided grin and pulled the weight from my shoulders, holding it up for me to see: a large athletic sock, full of… “Are you really going to eat these?” He pulled out a clump of dusty, melted-together hard candy.

“No, probably not.” I hugged my knees. “I know I don’t really need all that stuff, but it’s so hard to let go of.”

“I know.” He held the sock upside down. More disgusting candy and bits of broken plastic toys fell out into a pile on the floor. He waved his hands over it like a stage magician. “Mumbo jumbo, bibbity boo.” The pile vanished.

I squinted at him. “You’re not gonna, like, make fun of me for carrying it around, even though it makes no sense?”

He gave me a look and laughed. “Am I going to make you feel guilty and ashamed for wanting to carry around loads of guilt and shame? Fuck, no. That’s not what I’m here for. That’s what other people are here for, apparently, but only because they’re carrying around their own shit, and it’s heavy so they want to foist if off onto others.”

“People are weird,” I said.

He giggled and pulled a broken jewelry box from one of the duffel bags, tossing it into the air. It turned into a swarm of ladybugs, which buzzed out the window into the spring sunshine.

Elizabeth Roderick is an author. You can help her lift some of her financial baggage by checking out her books on Amazon

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Invisible Friend Jesus and the Resistance

hippieInvisible Friend Jesus sits next to me on my bed. He’s cleaning his toenails with a file, scraping the dirt from under them and flicking it onto my quilt. It’s gross, but part of me wants to save the dirt and put it on display in some cathedral.

“I feel like I should be cleaning your feet for you or something,” I say.

He glances up at me, smirking. “Do you want to?” He holds the file out toward me.

I lean away from it. “Not really.”

He goes back to his task, shrugging. “Cleaning other people’s feet isn’t really part of your culture. It’d be sort of awkward if you wanted to, to tell you the truth.”

“Another thing about my culture,” I say, “while we’re on the subject: cleaning your toenails on someone else’s bed: not really okay. But it’s cool, because we’re friends. The quilt washes.”

He pauses in digging out a particularly stubborn deposit in the corner of his big toe. “Sorry. I didn’t really think about it. My feet were just dirty.”

“Naw, it’s cool, it’s cool. Really.”

He hesitates a moment then, seeing I’m serious, goes back to digging.

I watch him with disgusted fascination. “I didn’t really think about Jesus’ feet getting dirty before. I thought you were perfect in every way.”

He raises an eyebrow. “The Bible talks about my dirty feet. It’s a little embarrassing, but it was necessary to the story, I think.”

“Oh yeah, you’re right.”

He wipes the file on the hem of his suit jacket and starts in on shaping His nails. “I’m a human being. The whole point of me—as a religious concept, anyway—is that I’m a human like any other, with dirty feet and everything. I’m God’s way of showing the world that it’s okay to be human.

“Dirty feet don’t make us ‘imperfect’, anyway,” he continues, “they just make us human.” He frowns in concentration, trying to shape his pinky toenail just so. “It’s the same with all the other stuff that goes along with being human. None of it is imperfection. All the trouble starts when people start blaming and judging others for what they see as their flaws. It’s what I spoke out against, because we would be a lot happier if we’d quit worrying about that stuff and just accepted ourselves and others.”

“I get you,” I say, “but that’s some complicated shit when you get into issues of people’s  beliefs threatening others. I’d say that sort of behavior truly is a ‘flaw’.”

He nods. “I know what you mean. If you’d notice, the Bible talks about how I lost it on a few people for doing stupid and hateful stuff, too.”

I grin. “Yeah, I remember some of that stuff. Those are some of my favorite parts.”

“I can’t say it wasn’t satisfying.” He clips the edge off one of his nails and flicks it away; I wince as it lands on my pillow. “Living on Earth is a complicated thing,” He says. “God understands that. But God is bigger than all that, too. God wants you to forgive your enemies, even for threatening and hurting you. Notice I don’t say ‘embrace’, just ‘forgive’. And I don’t mean we should lie down and let them trample us, but we should forgive them for trying.

“This is not an easy thing to do, when you’re just trying to get by as a mortal person, and assholes keep messing with you and your family—messing with them, or worse,” He says. “God understands that it’s difficult. He knows we won’t always succeed—that we’ll flip our shit sometimes—and forgives us for it. But we’d be a lot happier if we stopped trying to get revenge. Because, in the process, sometimes we end up becoming the thing that we hate: we end up threatening and hurting other people in return. Then those people act out in self-defense and in greater hatred, and the cycle continues.”

“That’s why you forgave the people who crucified you,” I say. “As an example that it can be done by human beings, even in those circumstances.”

He nods, stretching out his legs and wiggling his toes. “Yep. That shit wasn’t easy, but I felt better after I’d done it. Better in my soul, anyway; I was in some pretty bad agony physically, to say the least. But forgiveness helps the forgiver as much as the forgiven.”

I draw my knees up to my chest and hug them. “I wish your followers would listen to you about all this stuff, because my country is really scary right now. It’s starting to look like Nazi Germany. I have a hard time turning the other cheek when people are threatening our health and lives, and when they’re supporting racism, bigotry, and the destruction of society and the environment. And most of the people doing that in the U.S. claim to be Christian.”

He gives me a long look. “Human beings have a long way to go before they find the Kingdom of God. I know it seems like this battle has already been fought, but what a lot of people don’t realize is, their lives are short and the battle is long. The fight is ongoing, and will continue until the Kingdom is achieved. All I can say is, we have made progress. And God is still with us, no matter what.”IMG_2458.JPG