Tuesday, November 13, 2007

...Amamus, Amatis, Amant

If you have some time to spare, please pray. Dear friends of mine are flailing. There are health issues, infidelity, general unhappiness, big time loss and altogether more pain than people can walk around under. At risk are people's lives, the whole future and functionality of the next generation, sweet people who just need things to be less awful for a little while so they can recover, recognize their souls as their own, dance again in the light of grace, thankful for what is.

To Whom it May Concern: This business of being crushed by the weight of one's own psyche is wearing the planet out, people. Let me say it again: If you need meds, get them. If you need an ear, tell someone so. We, your families, are not mind readers. We cannot know the depths of your despair unless you say something. There is help. Lots of it. You survived adolescence, therefore you are pointedly aware that life changes. The worst of it changes. The best of it changes. The misery you feel right now should not own the outcome of your family. Be the adult in charge. Take a deep breath. Pour out your heart and soul, tell the truth, pray, be real with the people who love you more than you can begin to wrap your agonized brain around.

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken

This place you are, dear ones, is not so good. There's no arguing that. But grace, redemption, renewal, are not reserved for the divine to offer his creation. They are human concepts as well, ones we live daily on varying scales. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the most severe condemnation you face is going on right now inside your own head--your fear is successfully overwhelming your good sense. Your family, your whole family, every last one of them, want nothing more than for you to be okay. There is nothing they won't forgive. You've just gotta speak to it. If all you can do is whisper, "Help" do it. They'll respond. They just need to know that you're there for the duration. That you won't bail at your earliest convenience.

Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now

Sir, madam, friends: Don't become another statistic. Do not cede your children a legacy of brokenness and disaster. Nothing you do after this will have this level of importance. God entrusted you with those babies and you will answer to Him for what you've done to, for and with them. Take a deep breath and look into their eyes and acknowledge that you want better for your punkins than what you're thinking of doing to their family.

Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes

Do you know, really, really know that you, their parents, are your offsprings' first picture of God? Think back to watching that first little one sleep, watching her breathe while you dreamed big for her future, or smoothing his little peach fuzz hair down, wondered what he'd be when he grew up. Remember how you knew that your family would be okay, even though so many others might not be, you would be great? Remember how you knew that there was nothing in the world you wouldn't do for that tiny little bundle with impossibly fat cheeks?

Don’t close your eyes
This is your life, are you who you want to be

Do not for one second think that your pain and confusion are unique. This place you've found is not new. It is not special. It is one you will likely visit many times over the course of your life--may it be long enough for you to survive much and may you only visit this place rather than erect a permanent dwelling place. Look. The truth is surviving often sucks. I mean it. It sucks. A lifetime delivers more pain, ecstasy, complexity and boredom than we'd be able to live through if we knew what was coming. I know people who are this week burying their brother, nephew, husband, dear friend, uncle, their son--each of these different people, different families. I know people putting back together their marriages under the most complex, painful, impossible circumstances. Do not say, "But..." There is no but. Not one. Your pain is not a new discovery or a new variety on this planet. You cannot offer up that no one can know the inside of your marriage, how bad it is to live with him/her. Unless you're being beaten or your spouse is refusing treatment or you're twelve, you have no excuse. And if your spouse has asked you to get help, to go for couples counseling and you won't? Woe be unto you, friend. It takes more than whining, more than posturing, more than a couple of perfunctory "attempts" at therapy to let you off the hook. You have to earn your way out and it takes years of active participation in the process in order to do so. Making a bunch of kids and then complaining about insufficiency of anything, anything at all, does not qualify as you having earned your way into or out of a matchbox, much less out of a marriage. A family.

This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose

Step outside of your pain and confusion. Step outside of yourself. Remember who you are. The person who made those vows, and the one to whom you made them. You weren't drunk. You didn't have a gun to your head. You were full of hope and lust, longing and dreams you just knew would be fulfilled. Your youthful optimism is paying off. Those dreams are coming true. Some of them are complete, others just getting started. The problem is, no one told you about the foot notes and addendums. No one told you that your dreams would come true as you were annoyed to death about the state of the toothpaste, for crying out loud, would you learn to squeeze it right? No one told you that loving another human being would be equal parts joy and puzzlement. Or that in order for those dreams to come true, you might have to spend some time in the wasteland that occasionally represents reality.

Yesterday is a kid in the corner
Yesterday is dead and over

If you ate candy all day long, you'd become corpulent, lazy and no fun to be with. Go examine your behaviors over the last few years and see what you've done to make yourself into someone who wanted only to be soothed with a variety of lollipops. Someone who could no longer see the beauty dancing right in front of you, giggling, flirting, sashaying for your pleasure and attention. Your honey, your babies, they're all right there. They want you and need you like no one else in the past, present, or future of civilization will ever need you. No great act, no heroic deed, nothing you could ever do will compare to the person you are to them.

This is your life, are you who you want to be

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. Suck up your ego. Don't go crawling back. Walk in quietly, with confidence, with your head high, as the person--fallible and fabulous--God means you to be: a real one. Then quietly, with sacrifice, set about deserving their adoration. Not as a prostrate penitent, but as a human being. Earn that title. We are made in the image of God. Ergo: you are magnificent. Own it.

Don’t close your eyes

As a citizen of Earth, you will inevitably experience a variety of life circumstances. Some you will have some say in, some you will fully control, most you will have to hang on and ride through as they kick you nearly to death or deliver nifty details beyond the scope of your imagination. Most of life you get very little say over. Death of a child? Loss of a lover? Pain your children must walk through? Handicaps? Chronic pain? Fatal diagnosis? All those people I spoke of in the very first paragraph would give anything to have in their circumstances the kind of choice you have in yours. You will, with certainty, find yourself in situations, perhaps many, which are beyond you. The people suffering around you, indeed your future self, charge you to do the best you can, with what you have, right now, where you are. Someday you will long for a situation as "clear cut" as this one is right now. It doesn't feel like it at this moment, but you will.

This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose

I ache for your spouse, your babies, and you. This is something they struggle actively against. They know some of how awful it will be without you, but they don't know that it will get worse. They miss you so badly already and you're not even gone. You are half those children's very identity. And as you plan to walk out, half their identity is skewering the other half--how will they ever rebound from that? How will you overcome that cognitive dissonance ringing so loudly and persistently in your own head? You know better than to say with a straight face that they'll be fine, that it's "better" this way. You know this all the way down to your toes.

I've got a big day tomorrow and I need to sleep so I can take it on and do it well, so I have to wrap this up. I could throttle you, but I'm running out of time. (Laugh. It's funny. Is too.) Please know that I'm praying for you all. That the rest of the planet is too. That everything I said above is true and it goes double if you know my real name. You have a chance to change history for hundreds of people with the ripples of the choice you're lingering over, but most of all for those little ones you've been watching since they looked like fuzzy kidney beans, since you were smiling into your beloved's eyes at their crazy antics, even in utero.

This is your life. Pick up your free will and make it what it's meant to be.

To the rest of you: I pray peace for you and yours, a lightening of your sorrow, a restful night. May God be with you as you endure and learn the ropes of the new normal.

With much love,

lyrics copyright Switchfoot

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