Reflections on the odd…

I don’t know why I am such an oddball.

It may simply be a factor of my perception, but I look through my friends’ social media accounts, we visit in person, I watch tv and listen to the radio and people chatting in stores and I wonder, truly and often, “What on earth are they thinking?”  I am not saying this to come across as superior or condescending, while acknowledging that can certainly be how it is perceived.  It is more a matter of truly not understanding how people can hold some of the beliefs that they do.  I think that is one of the reasons I so enjoy honest, respectful debates with people who disagree with me.  I WANT to learn more about what makes them tick.  I WANT to try and understand why they think, feel and see the world the way they do.

One of the things that Bernie Sanders, currently running for president of the US, recently said to a respectful, if not exactly thrilled, arena of conservatives was that “It’s easy to go out and talk to people who agree with you, it is harder, but not less important, for us to try and communicate with those who do not agree with us on every issue.”  And I truly believe in this.  The ideals of community that my denomination feels that we are called to create are not communities of conformity.  They are communities that recognize the worth of all persons.  Communities that welcome everyone in.  Not just the ones who look, act and think like the majority.

It is helpful I suppose to explain that in my upbringing I think there were several factors that gave me a somewhat unique perspective of the world that do not allow me to easily integrate with my peers.  First off, I was raised in a denomination that if people had heard of it at all either thought it was a cult or part of a totally different church altogether.  We were emerging from a period in our history where we thought that as a church, we had the “one TRUTH” that all other churches were lacking.  It was a tumultuous time in our denomination’s history, full of excitement, hurt and change.  It also meant that I didn’t have a lot of friends to talk to about religion, in a place and time where religion WAS family (post-script, it is family again now after years of wandering).  Most of my neighbors were Catholic, Baptist and the occasional Lutheran or Methodist.  I was one of less than 5 Community of Christ kids in almost every town I grew up in.

I was also raised in a multi-faith extended family.  On my mother’s side, my aunt and cousins were Jewish, both by blood and by religion.  My Christmas for years consisted of playing Dreidel and lighting the Menorah candles, while one of my cousins told the story and then going in the other room to read the Christmas story from the scriptures and singing Christmas carols.  As an adult I find more and more that I miss that piece of my childhood.  Sharing in the different faiths that made up my family.  I also have cousins and other family who are Pagan and Agnostic.  But down deep we know that being family is what still connects us.  In many ways this is how I understand being a part of the family of God.

Both of my parents were ministers, as were all four of my grandparents.  I was also raised in a household of educators.  My father was an elementary teacher and principal for 35 years and my mother was a high-school and college instructor.  Knowledge and reason helped to provide the foundation for how we understood the world, how we found strength in our faith and what our part in taking care of the world was.

On the flip side I was also a theatre major and spent years finding a second home in the welcoming embrace of those gypsies, geeks, freaks and oddballs who made up the various theatre groups I was a part of over the years.  They are in many ways still some of my closest and best friends and family.  It was weird being an active and believing Christian surrounded by people whose view of faith tended to be extremely divergent from my own.  But it was also very humbling to be part of such a community of people whose own struggles had made them keen to accept anyone who wanted to truly join the community they had created.  While I may have attended church, they lived it, although I know a number of them who would shudder to think of it in those terms.  🙂

Additionally, I started working in social work at a very young age.  At 14 I began volunteering my summers at a Christian camp for children who had been victims of abuse.  The abuse could range from physical, mental, emotional, sexual to sometimes all of the above.  For a time, we would be paired one-on-one with these children as the camp provided a place of sanctuary for them.  Many of the children had been taken from their homes and placed with other relatives or in the foster program and over the years that I participated in the camps (about five years all told), I heard and saw many horrific examples of people’s inhumanity to the most vulnerable among us including in the lives of my nephews and sister.

But I also saw the incredible strength and resilience of these children as some came back years later to be counselors themselves and the power of love and acceptance in making a difference in these children’s lives.  Sitting on top of a 7-year-old boy and wrestling a stolen kitchen knife away from him, to keep him from stabbing one of the girls at 11pm is one of the most heartbreaking memories I have.  But seeing a child, so badly abused that he will never walk or talk normal again, raise his voice to share in front of the group his hopes and fears for the future, of having a family and wishing to somehow be normal…seeing the love of these kids as they gather around him to show him how much he is loved and accepted as he is, is one of the most cherished memories I have.

I worked in Domestic Violence shelters and Runaway programs for teens for years before finally hitting burnout.  The stress, frustrations and hurts that Social Service workers, Police and other emergency personnel experience is real and hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t gone through it.  But it cost me my first two marriages, lots of sleepless nights, struggles with alcohol and depression.  There is a reason that people in these professions are so hurt.  It’s not because we don’t care, but because we care so much and we see so much misery around us.  We share a common desire to help our fellow human beings and often get frustrated when we can’t “fix” the problems we see.

I have been held-up at gun point.  I have lost people close to me to violence.  I understand, at least on some level, what it is like to have your life threatened.  I don’t ever want to face those circumstances again, but I also know that should that happen I will do everything I can to save those I care about EXCEPT take another life.  In my understanding and belief I cannot do it, nor can I condone it, not even to “save” those I love the most.

This partly comes from my journey as I ran away from church, tried other religions and none and finally found my way back to my roots.  If I truly believe that God shelters and protects me, than it is not my place to save my life through violence.  Martin Luther King and Ghandi had a lot of influence on this as well and will probably be covered more in future posts.

I love to read, to learn and to experience new things.  I want to be challenged on my beliefs, so that I may reexamine them and ensure that they still fit my understanding of the world.  I want to share in the faiths of my friends, but more importantly I want to share in the LIVES of my friends.  Building relationships is so much more a part of what I feel called to do than building church buildings.

I have a dirty sense of humor sometimes.  I have learned to live with the desires of my previous addictions to alcohol, smoking and porn, without giving in to them.   I yell, I scream at people I love sometimes.  I’m not great with money.  I lie.

But I also work on being a better person each day.  One who can look upon each person I meet as an opportunity to build a better world.  To leave this place a little bit better than I found it.  I don’t do this by telling them that I know what it means to be a “sinner” and then shaming or demeaning them into believing like me.  I do it by telling them my own struggles, by empathizing with their questions and accepting their conclusions, giving them space to grown into the person they are meant to be.  I ask forgiveness for the mistakes I make, I strive to make peace with people I have hurt or angered.  I try to understand.

I don’t know why this is such a hard thing for other people to understand.  I only know it sometimes feels like there are only a handful of us out there trying to live this way, but we do it because for us the world could be such a beautiful place if we can get even another one or two to see it through our eyes.

I may be the oddball… but what if I wasn’t?

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Advent 2012

God has done great things….

Why is this so hard for me to find the words to say?  I know God has done great things in my life.  Me standing here is a great thing God has done.  He did not give up on me even when I did.

Advent… is about anticipation.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We celebrate the gift of the one who came to show us the way and to give us ever lasting life.  But He did that through the cross.  This is also the beginning of the journey to the crucifixion.  Think about that a minute.  All the mania and crazy shopping lines, the funny/silly tv specials, food, parties and waaaay too much of our extended families….  All to celebrate the death and resurrection of the baby born tonight.

It’s often so easy to take for granted the blessings we receive the rest of the year.  I saw a tag line part of me wants to put up in my office to remind me; it said “Christmas, the time of year Christians act like they’re supposed to.”  And it made me laugh and take a minute to reflect upon this year.  The thought sobered me.  Have there been times when I have looked upon my brothers and sisters who needed help and turned away?  I’m sorry to say there have been.  Have I heard people who claim Christ as their savior talk about how certain people should be excluded from His love or turned away?  Yes.  Just turn on the tv.

But this time of year is about celebrating the absolute leveling of the playing field.  “Life’s not fair~!”  How often do we hear that?  Anybody who’s ever been a kid has heard it at least once, coming from their own lips if no other time.  But Jesus came to show us that life is absolutely fair.  Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people.  God loves everybody, the nice, the mean, the laughing ones, the crying ones.  And He loves us equally.  To prove it He sent His son to live, breath, die and live again for us.  The great equalizing fact of this season is that no one is alone or unloved.  We may feel that way.  The weight of the world may feel like it’s crashing down on us but the truth is, there is still hope for the future, peace is still available to everyone who searches, joy is present in every moment and love is coming.  Despite our best efforts to prove otherwise at times God continues to move in our lives and provides countless blessings we often are not even aware of.

This does not mean life is easy or that things won’t get rough.  We are not promised that.  The scripture today talks about how God has done great things for us.  But that’s only part of it.  It also speaks of those who go out weeping carrying seeds to sow.  One of the interpretations I read of this indicated that it meant the people were taking out the last of their seeds, the last of their food, to plant.  It was being given as an offering with the hope that they would be able to last until the harvest and have more than enough to eat.  The next verse reflects this hope with the response that those who weeped will return with songs of joy.  We are not offered a safe sure road.  God requests that we give our all, just as He has.  We are not called to be part-time workers for Him.  The joy comes in living full-time in God’s love.

But what is this thing called joy?  Too often in our society joy equals happiness and I’d like to set the record straight.  While they are definitely related, in that after someone has experienced one they want more of it, happiness is a fleeting thing, requiring satisfaction of some sort, having a need met.  Joy is more nuanced and complicated and is deeper.  Joy is about finding the good in any situation.  And there is good in any situation, I honestly believe that.  When my nephew died, there was nothing I wanted more than to have him back.  I don’t feel like he died for a cause or that there was some deeper plan behind it… but there have been joyful moments remembering our life together and in those times when what has happened has opened doors for me to talk to people I otherwise would not have been able to bring a ministry to.  Do I still miss him?  Absolutely.  Do I still grieve?  Yes.  But neither of those things can take away the joy of his life, even if they can take some of the happiness away for a while.

The same was true when my grandfather died.  We spent the day visiting with my grandmother and other extended family members.  Telling stories about him, sharing memories.  It was one of the most wonderful times of my life.  I got to hear things about this man I had never heard before, hilarious episodes from his past before I was born.  I got to spend time sharing with family I rarely got to see.  But he was dying.  And it was in the dying that my grandfather taught me the greatest lesson about joy, because I will stand here and tell you again today that the day he died, his life brought more joy to my heart that it ever had before, or will again.  I finally got it, in my gut, what he meant, when he told me as a young man that man is that he might have joy.

Nothing is for certain, other than the love God bears each one of us.  That love was on full display that day and it was that love that lifted the joy from the bottom of my heart to the top.  And it’s that joy that we celebrate here today.  God’s joy in this moment and season of advent is bittersweet.  On the one hand He is giving us the greatest gift of all, the life of His son.  On the other He is going to have to watch Jesus grow, suffer and die, before the resurrection.  This moment is still going on.  It is still being lived out.  Only we who are finite beings experience it as being in the past.  God loves us.  God’s greatest act is one of selfless love.  It’s to bring us up out of the darkness of the places we find ourselves, for whatever reason.  Maybe not in our time or in the way we want, the primary definition of “fair,” but in God’s time.  I have struggled with God my whole life.  Not in believing that He existed but that He could love someone like me or that if He did, what did all this bad stuff seem to keep happening to me.  I have stood the brink, trying to die and because of the gift offered here today, His love and the love His son showed to us, I was brought back.  I would run and run again throughout my life, still do sometimes.  But God continues to pursue and Jesus continues to open His arms to me.  To bring me home, to offer me the joy of His presence.  Tears, warts, mistakes, anger and all.  Jesus is our companion on the journey, not our magic wand.  But that’s the greatness of it, in something as small as a little baby.  God’s joy is alive in every moment of every day.  WE are blessed because He lives.  He lives~!

10 years after and still here?

So a number of people have been encouraging me to go back to writing in here and while I’ve had several ideas I’ve written down over the last few months, I find it hard to believe how long it’s been since I actually last posted.  It seems like there is always something in the way, work, time with friends & family, other responsibilities or obligations, exhaustion, etc.  Take your pick, we all have them.  But I’m not sure that any of those were really anything other than an avoidance mechanism for me to pick back up the pen (so to speak).

I was forcibly reminded of this today, as my work commemorates the 10th anniversary of Sept 11 a few days early.  I still work for the same private midwestern college I was the last time I was here and today they are holding a reading on campus of all the names of those who died that day in front of flags of the nationalities of all those who died.  I was asked if I wanted to go down and take some time during my work day to spend a quiet moment there.  I politely declined…and then spend the next 20 minutes wondering why.  I finally decided that part of the reason was I was just too emotionally tired to go.  I was not prepared to grieve for them just yet, just as I am not sure how well I’m ready to grieve for all those I have lost this year and the last few.

My connection with Sept 11th is not as immediate as so very many, but I do have an indirect link to it.  My oldest nephew joined the military right out of high school.  Like so many young men and women of that generation in uniform he was sent overseas to fight a war I’m not sure he fully understood any more than the rest of us did, but he knew he wanted to serve his country and do his best to help people.  He survived the tours thank God, he just didn’t survive coming back home.  He died on his 21st birthday, from alcohol poisoning, three weeks from his first visit back home to us in almost two years.  I still struggle with his death the most.  He struggled with depression and probably PTSD.  The last time we talked was at Thanksgiving and I only had a few moments between grandparents, parents, cousins aunts/uncles and more.  I tossed off a few words, I don’t remember what, but ended with a “We’ll see you soon.”  Not realizing we would never see him again.

There was a story on NPR yesterday morning that really hit me (and yes I know it may seem as though I’m rambling but I promise I have a point here)… it was about the father of two young men who died on that day.  And what their last words were to each other.  The two brothers, one was a fireman, the other a policeman, both rushed to the scene that morning, both had a duty and calling to fulfill.  On their way to ground zero they each called their father and to each after a few words and a sensible “Be careful,” the last thing they said to each other was “I love you.”  It was, the father said, what let him sleep at night.  How many times do we not get or take the time to make the last words we say to each other each time we speak, words that convey how much the other means to us? 

I did not say those words to my nephew.  I’m sure he knew that I did, but it’s not the same.  I did not get to say them to my friend who passed unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago.  And I wonder…how my grief at an imperfect good-bye compares to the imperfect good-byes my son has had to deal with.  From his cousins to his grandparents to friends….he has had more loss in the first 13 years of his life than I’ve had to endure in my 34.  I find it interesting that part of what brings me back to these pages, perhaps steadily again for a while, is the same kind of issue that brought me here in the first place…my son, struggling to cope with the world he finds himself inhabiting….with loss, with love, grief and peace…and where to find the balance for it all.  It has been 10 years since 9/11 and just over 10 years since my son came to live with me full-time.   And even if we don’t show our wounds in public, they are still there.  10 years may have gone by, but just like the rest of America, although we are still struggling to find our way, we’re still here….and we will survive.  And some of us will find the words, slowly, grasping, to share the burden and lighten our load.  To move forward as a friend of mine stated, to that day when we can move past the morbidity of 9/11 and our other losses and instead celebrate the resilience of the human spirit.  Not to forget or dishonor, but to remember in a way that lifts up, rather than pulls down.  We will survive.  We will thrive.

 

Staring it in the face

So it’s been a while since I put anything up…hmm… Not as long as I thought though. Maybe I am getting better at getting back to writing stuff more regularly?  Riiiiight.  I wouldn’t hold my breath either.

I came up against this reality not long ago.  But first I want to share something with you.  As I was praying in my room this morning, just sitting on my floor talkin’ to God, my eyes wandered around and across to an orange page on the floor not far from me.  After reading it the story on the page really hit my gut as being in direct answer to my prayer.  God truly can act in the most amazing ways in our lives…so, here it is —

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.  After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer.  “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house.  Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.  But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?  That’s because I have always known about your flaw and I took advantage of it.  I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.  For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table.  Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

This story really hit me today as I was thinking about how I felt my own efforts in my ministry, my work, my relationship were not up to where I’d like them to be.  But then there’s the moral too, just to add icing to the cake…

Each of us has our own unique flaws.  We’re all cracked pots.  But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father’s table.  In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste.  Don’t be afraid of your flaws.  Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty.  Know that in our weakness [God can] find our strength.

I must admit I’ve been feeling a little like a fifth wheel some lately.  As I’ve mention previously I was recently ordained a minister and not only that but as of the first of this year, am also a co-pastor in my congregation.  I’m still busy at work and my son and I are starting a joint family therapy bi-weekly session to start working on how we relate to each other.  Things there are much much better than they have been, but at times it’s still a struggle.  And to top it all off, and this is really one of the most important things for me (and one of the most wonderful), I’m engaged to be married and the wedding is in about 4 months….  So… it’s not like I don’t have a bit on my plate I suppose.  But like the pot, I was feeling more and more aware of my flaws, rather than the beauty God had been (and continues to) using my flaws to create.  It was a good reminder and comes at a good time for me.

I am not perfect.  I screw up, make mistakes, don’t take advantage of the opportunities afforded me, ignore people I shouldn’t… but like the pot, if I listen to the water bearer, the bearer of the Word, acknowledge the flaws in my life and make room for His word… well, then… grace and beauty are only a part of what He can do with my life, and with yours.

So where does the Fall find me?

Inspiration Point
Rainbow at the point our last day at Yellowstone

Interesting places I suppose, would be the somewhat cryptic and flippant answer.  But in truth I’m not entirely sure how else to describe it.  So far this fall, I have become involved with a wonderful young woman in a relationship that probably was not a surprise to anyone else but me.  My son has started 7th grade and is dealing with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and other such joys of middle school.  I’ve been dealing with stress and anxiety that may be behind what put me in the hospital for about 5 hours the other day on suspicion of having a heart attack.  I’m due to be ordained a minister in just over a week and a couple months after that take over as co-pastor in my local congregation.  I have hit a rough patch in my relationship with my best friend and am struggling to figure out how to move forward in love and friendship without causing any more pain to him as it appears to be largely my fault we got to this place to begin with.  There are family issues, health issues, friendship issues, work issues and other issues, but when is there not?

I still have a job, a roof over our heads, good friends and family, food on the table and a life filled with other numerous blessings.  I am finding time to spend in quiet prayer and study.  I am hanging out with my son more as we try to figure out how not to kill each other, even as it seems both our lives pick up speed.  My girlfriend lives just across the hall so I get to see her everyday.  I am surrounded by loving examples of God’s love for each of us and I thank God for it each day.

That does not mean I don’t struggle.  I am stressed about my son, although I think we have him in a good place at the moment, there is a part of me that struggles with feeling a bit like a failure as we go from family therapist to school counselor to psychiatrist even though plenty of folks tell me I shouldn’t.  We are both learning new coping skills and ways of handling stress although I think he is learning better than I am.  I hope so at least.  I would just as soon he not have as stressful a life as I have had the tendency to do to myself.

I struggle with how to be a better friend.  I get nervous when people get too close, start exerting too much influence in my life, even when it’s my decision to allow that to happen.  As I’ve been reading up and learning about reactive attachment, which coincendently may be part of my son’s issue, I am surprised at how many of the qualities apply to my life.  I don’t blame this for what has happened, but it has caused me to rethink how I have handled people getting close to me in times past.  It causes stress to me when people I care about and who are close to me do not appear to approve of my choices and/or decisions, even if they do not feel strongly one way or the other, I have had a tendancy to put my own uncomfortableness onto them creating an unhealthy/unhelpful view of how things really are which makes it difficult at times to find solutions.  I really would like close and healthy relationships with people and I have been getting help, counseling and training on how to do that, but don’t let anyone ever tell you this is something that comes naturally.  Being in community, living in community is messy and hurts and is not easy.  But the rewards of being in that sort of loving unity with other people is something that it worth giving up lots of other things for.

One of the challenges I suppose I face as I move forward is that I struggle with being vulnerable.  I am a wounded person.  I have scars, anger, hurt, loss and grief as part of the tapestry of my life.  That has been part of what this blog is about.  A safe, neutral ground to allow this stuff to get out.

But I am also a beloved child of God.  I have value, am loved, and am of worth.  The key is for me to be willing to accept that, not only from God but from those around me who are also part of the community I am a part of.  Only in this way can I be a wounded healer.  It is not up to me to be perfect or fine or for things to be 100% good in my life before I move out in ministry.  This is true whether I am a priesthood member or not.  The only thing priesthood does for me is allows me to broaden the way in which I serve the people around me.  It doesn’t make me perfect or make me more spiritual or more deserving or something.  It is a covenant between God and me and the denomination I belong to.  It is a willingness to learn to be vulnerable, to serve, and in one respect to fail.

What I mean by that is to fail to rely on my own strength and instead rely on God.  Part of the challenge I face is in letting go of the illusion of control over my life and place it in God’s hands.  I am still responsible for my own actions, the good and the bad.  But as a minister in the service of God it is not about me, or my desire for recognition or anything like that.  It is about failing to be proud and wise and strong as the world tells us we ought to be.  And it is about being humble and foolish and weak, so that what is shown through our lives is the power of God at work.

I don’t know yet exactly how to balance everything out on my plate at the moment.  I will admit that.  I don’t know that I am making the perhaps the best choice by accepting all this at once.  I know I believe in my calling to the priesthood.  It just took me not wanting to push for it to get here and now I have to figure out how to answer the call faithfully.  I know that I cannot do it all as pastor or even co-pastor by myself, without all those around me and in my community.  I will make mistakes, there will be stress and trials and I will see sides of people that will hurt me.  But I also believe that God is with me as I move forward into this as well.  Grad school is on hold at the moment and I’m okay with that.  Work is lightening up my load to give me time and space to deal with things and is looking to get me additional co-workers to help carry my responsibilities.  I am still on track to mix up my social calendar enough to open up more slots and am learning to say no with less guilt.  My son and I are working together to become a better unit.  We are both getting training and help from counselors, psychiatrists and therapists.  At the end of the day I’m not entirely sure if I could do any more.  I am sorry for the hurt I have caused and I will work to heal those rifts I have contributed to.

I am sure there is probably more I could say on all this, but this has already turned waaaaay more long winded than I planned.  But I am equally sure that this next year is going to be amazing, challenging, joyful, stressful and filled with new things.  May we share the path and walk the walk together in the light.  Peace and blessings.

Thoughts on Yesterday

What do I want to say?

What is it I want?

When do I I feel less alone?

I’m still trying to process yesterday and everything that happened.  I slept in, had been up late gaming, fell asleep on the sofa, climbed into bed somewhere around 4 or so.  Totally missed church, which my son had asked if we could do anyway, so that was one less fight I had on my hands.  We both woke up around noon.  Fixed breakfast, watched an episode and a bit of Stargate: Atlantis with him before I was reminded that I had rehearsal for a drama piece at church for Palm Sunday.  I checked FB before I went to get ready for the day, recieved a message from my Emotional Parole Officer who lovingly chastised me, which I both needed and deserved.  Went and showered…and then…

I don’t really have words for it.  I can tell you the thoughts that went through my head, what I did, the surroundings…but that’s not IT…or at least, not all the experience.  I started off getting angry.  Angry at myself for pushing the boundaries of my vow, angry at myself for making the vow.  Angry that the process of change that I’m in is taking so long.  Then ashamed that I was not more thankful for the blessings I have had along the way.  I’ve had several mantra’s on my bathroom mirror for the last two years, I tore off all but one (after punching the door-jam)…but the one I left up is the important one for me right now I think.

I admit that I am powerless over other people.  My need to be needed and my compulsion to rescue others has made my life unmanageable.

I am forgiven

There were others up about knowing my boundaries and being loved for who I am, but I realized yesterday, I’m not there yet.  I struggle with my boundaries, hence the Emotional Parole Office (a thankless job I’m sure, but I am so very very grateful for him).  And while I realize and hear others talking of loving me for who I am, and I appreciate that…first I’ve got to get to a place where I can truly believe I am forgiven.  And then I started crying.  Crying because I felt like everything and nothing had changed.  Crying because I felt very lost and very loved, because I finally admitted that for this change to be real, for me to be the kind of father, of man, of eventual husband I want to be – it can’t be something SOLELY from inside me.  I AM human….even if I hate to admit it, or at least to the weaknesses of it.

The only coherant thoughts I really have from the 45 minutes or so I was laying there, sobbing into my blankets, was that I had really mixed feelings about my son seeing me like this…and I was begging God to forgive me, asking God to help me forgive myself, and give me the strength to endure.  There were others but those were mainly feelings, emotions that colored everything else.  That and a profound sense of walls crumbling.  As I’ve mentioned earlier this year’s IVL was about letting go of the past, and old habits die hard.  It’s all too easy to fall into old ways of doing things if I’m not paying attention.  Much like an alcoholic’s first thought will be to drink when certain triggers are hit…I’ve got mine, and the reactions they produce.

So then I went to rehearsal – about 40 minutes late…and arrived right in time to hear my cue line:

“What’s going to happen now?”

my line – “Soon enough you’ll find out.” (did I mention that I HATE waiting and am NOT patient)

“Is everything alright?”

And of course….I’m there emotionally raw and bleeding and everyone knows it’s not entirely alright… but since I prefer joy to sorrow I laugh, a weary one to be sure and more than a little expressive, and we all laugh and rehearsal goes on as does the rest of my day.  After rehearsal I stay a while and pray, then visit with a minister there for about an hour before going home.  I check in with my EPO, chat with a friend for a while, watch some tv with my son, then tuck him in and stay up late – reflecting, reading, watching tv, etc.

Pieces of my life are still scattered all around me and I’m not sure what shape the puzzle is making.  I’m at a crossroads, the edge of the boat, as I’ve mentioned before.   My old life lies behind me, new self-destructive habits on one side, new life that I’ve been called to on the other.  I know which direction I need to go… what I’ve always struggled with is lining that direction up with where I WANT to go.  But the thought of turning back or away is a price that’s too high to pay… I just struggle with moving forward.  I feel like there is something I’m missing.  An insight, a clue – maybe some person I’m supposed to ask, some prayer to make.  I feel like I do when you reach that spot in your workout where you plateau and you have to kick it into higher gear to keep getting an effect, only I’m not sure how to kick it into higher gear.  And the dogpaddling is wearing me down.  I need help.  I need to ask for it.  It’s there, all I have to do is reach out for it, be willing to accept it.  But aren’t I supposed to be making this journey on my own?  I don’t understand.  And I feel like Luke watching Yoda effortlessly lift the X-wing from the Dagobagh swamp…I don’t believe it either… how am I supposed to do this?  And where do I find the strength to continue this journey?  (P.S. – b/c I know some of you will worry if I don’t, I’m NOT suicidal, that’s not the journey I’m talking about)  I’m just standing still instead of running… and I’m not entirely sure what’s next or what’s expected of me.  But I feel like the answer is right there and I’ll be ridiculed or let others down if I don’t see it…so I’m frustrated, and it hurts, and I turn away, because although my excuses sound exactly like what they are, I still can’t SEE any solutions…

but maybe there aren’t any…

more praying…and prayers would, as always, be appreciated…

Some days you wonder…

I.  As in me, myself and… I cannot do this alone.

This journey, this transition, this transformation… it’s something that utterly upsets the habits and balance of my life before and as such is beyond the entirety of my power to affect.  All I can do is be willing.  Willing and open to the opportunities and possibilities that are there for me to take if this is what I really want.  And I suppose at the end of the day that’s the question that matters more than all the rest.  I’ve been involuntarily liberated from my past and all the old ways of seeing and doing in my life.  Do I really want to go back to them?  I can, at least at times, see a partial picture of what might be laying on the horizon and I think it’s worth struggling for.  It’s just so bleedin’ far away…And I’m really tired.

I collapsed on my bedroom floor today for almost 45 minutes and cried…