Zero Sum Game

And this is the will of the Father, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39

She’d not had a good start in life. Abandoned at birth, she’d entered the system almost as soon as she’d taken her first breath. Over the years she was occasionally fostered out, but invariably she was soon back in the system. She’d actually been with one family for over a year, and everything had looked good, until breast cancer took one foster parent and grief took the other. After that she was unmanageable. Nobody wanted her. Everything was in her notes, there just wasn’t the money to care.

And over the years she learned how to survive, she just hadn’t learned how to live. No one had ever loved her long enough for her to learn how.

Sex soon became a tool to be used for leverage, for blackmail, or simply as the oil to grease life’s wheels. Both men and women became the pieces in life’s chess game. To survive you couldn’t afford to become attached, emotions had to be buried deep. They were the weapons of war. She used them often enough. Life was chess. Choose the mark. Set them up. Play the game. Checkmate, take the winnings and get out.

When she was young her sights weren’t set too high, and her needs were basic. However, as the years went by her tastes matured and her eyes turned to the lifestyles of the rich and powerful. She was seen in many of the right places, and even with some of the right people. Not exactly pretty she still knew how to use what she had to buy a place at the table. By her late twenties she was considered by some to be a minor celebrity.

But then she fell. Tied to the one scandal that wasn’t actually hers, she became the scapegoat running the hill. Considered a social pariah, she returned to well-practised, low-level tactics, and made her way with minor cons. Hit and run. Pick a mark, soften him up, gain his trust, then rip and take off. In a world of winners and losers it felt good hurting others. She’d be damned to feel otherwise. It was her prize. She deserved it, and the world owed her.

Just as the beginning, the end came completely out of the blue. It was the kind of accident that was embarrassing. She’d hitched a ride with an early morning trucker. Sensing a play at hand she’d flirted with him, taken his attention whilst he was driving. Foolish. He hadn’t seen the traffic stopped up ahead. Breaks screeching, the truck slammed into the RV in front. She smashed through both the truck window shield and the rear window of the RV. The paramedics reckoned that she’d probably been dead before she’d hit the dining table and slid onto the floor.

She’d never been a believer. So it was a bit of a shock to find a tunnel of light, and something reaching for her. Ahead was peace, and something more. She let go and started to fall towards it. Flying, faster and faster, she slammed the pool of consciousness and became a part of the more.

She was everyone. She was everything. She was all of creation, all of life, every person. She was her mother, and she understood why she’d abandoned her. She was the couple who had fostered her, and saw herself through their eyes. She was every mark she’d ever taken. She was the hurt, the fear, the lies, the despair, all of it. Not just hers, but of every life she’d touched. Her identity was now one of billions, but if she focused, like reading a line on a page, she could be anyone. But she constantly returned to the life that was hers.

Her story lay out before her, bare, naked in the light. Laid out beginning to end, like a book to be read, or a film to be watched. Every microsecond available to be touched by all of creation. And as all of creation looked at her life, the story that she’d lived, she understood the interconnectedness of it all.

Each and every event in her story that had touched the life of another, felt like it was her story too. She felt the hurt and pain that she’d caused in each and every person. The hope she’d given that she might be the one, and then the gut-wrenching pain when she’d left, and they realised that it had all been a scam.

She found that she could step back in stages. She could see her life like the wake of a boat on the water, and she recoiled at the absolute carnage that was left in its trail. Step back a little further, and she could see her life like an open wound in the body of humanity, a cut and slash across life itself.

Every time she saw this, and then returned to the whole, she found that she was dragged back to herself. And with each and every turn she hated herself more. Until, at last, she realised that she could not bear to be a part of the whole. She could not bear to be with herself. She wanted to tear herself out, carve this part out, fly to the farthest reaches where she would never be seen, never be known, never be found. She wanted to go to hell itself.

And just as she was about to flee a gentle voice cut through the panic and said,

“Please, turn around”.

She didn’t move. She was afraid to. But the words rolled around, caught her in their embrace, and she found, that despite her desire to run, she slowly turned around. And as she turned from herself into the self of God’s presence, she saw her life through the eyes of the child of humanity. She saw herself with the eyes of love, the eyes of forgiveness, the eyes of peace, trust, and faith. She saw herself as she had never seen herself before, and she knew, regardless of everything, that she was so deeply and so completely loved that despite all sense and judgement that she was forgiven, and safe. Even from herself.

Peace overcame her and she realised that her life was far from over. In fact, thank God, it was just beginning.

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