IFJ Collection Three

Wherein Jesus Says it’s Okay to Not Believe
“What’s up, Tink?”

I wrapped my arms around my knees and stared out the window, frowning. When I finally looked at him out of the corner of my eye, he was sitting there with his stupid, knowing smile. “I don’t have to tell you, you already frigging know,” I said.

He tented his fingers over his chest and tapped them together. “You’re worried because you’re almost done with your Tales from Purgatory series. You think that you only let yourself believe these conversations between us have meaning because you needed to believe it in order to write the story – because you had to find a way to make your main character believe it.”

“That’s crazy, right?”

He stuck his bottom lip out and shrugged. “I’ve heard crazier. I think.”

I hugged my legs tighter. “I’m a fraud, Invisible Friend Jesus. Real people of faith don’t have these dark moments where the world wraps them up in a nihilist shroud and the void opens beneath them.”

“That’s not true,” he said. His smile was gone.

“Really? I mean, does God Girl lie in bed at night and doubt the existence….” I trailed off, my eyes glazing over, and he snorted, rubbing his upper lip.

“Stop thinking about God Girl lying in bed at night, Tink.”

“Sorry.” I sighed and pressed my forehead into my knees.

He came over and put his arm around my shoulders. “These are fun talks we have,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said into my knees. “Yeah, they are. They have immeasurable value for me.”

“You don’t have to justify it to yourself or anyone.”

I looked up at him and smiled. “That’s true,” I said.

The Parable of the Dreamland Origami Monkey
“Invisible Friend Jesus, I’m having another bad day.” He sat by my head as I lay curled on the couch. He was making origami figurines, waving his hand over a pile of crepe paper, causing the little squares gather into beautiful shapes as if folded by unseen hands. I watched blearily as a rainbow army of butterflies, horses, airplanes and lotus blossoms grew on my coffee table.

“Why don’t you tell me about it?” he said.

“I’m never content,” I said. “I’m selfish. I always want something that I don’t have.”

He glanced at me, with his little teasing smile. “You think that makes you special?” he asked.

I sighed heavily, curling up tighter. “Some people seem perfectly happy with what they have. Other people’s discontent stems from a less selfish place. They want to make the world better, they want to help those less fortunate. Me, I get all twisted up because I really want my books to get published.”

He twiddled his fingers, and a rustling row of paper sea creatures bloomed up under them. “Dr. King you are not, Tinkerbell, but your art is your way of reaching out to others. You shouldn’t feel bad for wanting to share your stories.”

“But it’s so silly,” I complained, and he smiled.

“‘All is vanity and a striving after wind.’ You are who you are. Open your heart, let yourself be ‘God’s instrument’, as they say. To quote the dreamland code monkey from your books, ‘Listen, and endure.’ There are ways that each of us can make the world a better place, and if we keep our eyes open, we will see what those ways are.” He made a graceful motion with his hands, and the origami figures rose crinkling from the table to dance around my head. “It’s not always the ways you would think,” he said.

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