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Here Lies God (home recording)
A funeral song for the inner accuser
In my mind
I hear the voice of God
He likes to tell me I’m no good.
Fills me with shame,
and says I won’t be saved,
unless I behave as I should
But if it’s Thy commandment,
to love one another
then that hate-filled voice is a fraud,
and I’ve got no time
for that type of tyrant;
I lay him down in the sod.
Saying, “Here lies God.
Here lies God.
The one who accuses from inside my brain
The one abuses again and again
The one who refuses to loosen the chains
Here lies God.”
Story & questions
The memoir of Julie S. Lalonde documents her experience enduring and surviving domestic abuse under the threat of a longtime partner-turned-stalker. During passages where she quotes the communication of her abuser, whom she names X, she offers snippets of his communication style: an awful mix of shaming, pleading, manipulative, terrifying. In one moment it would seem so intimate, only to turn against her. It was a voice that was deeply personal, and yet so filled with shaming language, with love used as a form of assault. It was so close to her, it was hard to differentiate it from her own voice and her own self-worth.
I’m about to employ a metaphor to apply it to my own story, and I need to make sure that you first know: Her story stands on its own, and deserves to be read without any form of appropriation or metaphor. It offers a needed glimpse into what many women (and survivors in all bodies) endure in the shadows. Please read it.
This is the part where I appropriate it as a metaphor.
Several years ago now, as I was reading her book, I had a reaction that surprised me as I read the words spoken by X: I recognize that voice.
I recognized it as the voice of God.
Not the “real” God, of course, but simply the voice inside my own head. The one that speaks in accusatory, shame-filled statements. The one that sounds a little bit life self-talk, but is a slightly more judgemental, vicious and authoritative.
Only, I knew right then the voice in my had masquerading as God was was clearly a fraud, an idol, a stand-in, a sham. The “real” God doesn’t speak in the cajoling, shaming, accusatory language.
And yet, there it was — not just a mistake or misunderstanding, but wired into my neural pathways as a primary internal response. And it was predictable:
A demand for better performance. A shaming, forceful toilet-swirly of unworthiness. A refusal to offer love, grace or forgiveness unless earned, confessed, repented.
It may not have been God, but it’s an ingrained imposter that believes it was, and was occupying the throne.
To make room for any other experience of God — a God, I’m told, who is one of love, and of grace, and of compassion, and of a nonviolent peacemaking that the whole world will be redeemed — then any false god who occupies my mental state, rent free, needs a healthy and immediate eviction.
Do you have a voice like that in your head?
Do you let it believe that it’s actually God?
What would it take for you to evict, and finally, to bury, this imposter?
The song itself is a very rough home recording put onto digital recording a year or so ago. You could say it’s the funeral song for the death of the false God. Whenever I think about touching it up, improving the quality of it, there’s a couple things I get stuck on:
First, what would a real funeral for a false God like this sound like? Would it have all the pomp and circumstance of the goodbye to Queen Elizabeth? Would the organs and choirs of churches and cathedrals swell to such an overpowering volume that the earth would shake with the significance, as humans finally lay to rest that which has haunted them for years? Would tears fill people’s eyes as they recognized that the terrorist in their own minds has left them, that they are safe now, that no more voice of accusation remains to afflict them with insult? (And if so: what does that sound like in music? I’m gonna need a bigger organ.)
Second, shouldn’t there be a second verse? I can picture it already, and I’ve written a few drafts. It’s a verse that would bring to sweet conclusion a clearer picture of who God really is, the power of redemption and resurrection and reconciliation and love flowing through all things. There would be a key change, and it would reveal the double-entendre of “here lies God,” not describing the presence of a corpse in the ground, but an aliveness all around us, the energizing reality that connects us all — touching the face of a child and whispering “here lies God,” marveling at the stars and proclaiming “Here lies God!” Wondering at the profound majesty of every sacred moment, shaking ones head, and murmuring: “Surely, here lies God.”
But before I can proclaim the presence of God in such jubilant verse as that, I first need to bury the old monster. It’s too simple to switch from a verse where we put to rest a stalker like that, into one where we loudly proclaim a wondrous reincarnation or resurrection. Maybe one day. Maybe a separate song. But this one first.
Before the resurrection, a death. Before healing, a naming of the hurt.
The voice of God should never have been twisted to become an accusatory, vengeful, hateful inner script that demands more, more, more. If God is God, then God is love. And that’s the trick of the song: “If it’s Thy commandment to love one another,” as the children’s song and melody suggests, “then this hate-filled voice is a fraud.”
I will add that since this song was written and recorded — it has been a couple years now — the noise from the unwelcome tenant has been significantly reduced.
May any false gods that cause us to participate in systems that oppress others, sanction abuse, and create loops of shaming self-talk in our own minds, be laid to rest.