Snowy Lenten thoughts…

So it’s late and I should totally be getting ready for bed and work tomorrow.  That’s the thing about weekends, you can’t wait for them to come but once here they disappear with a flash.  I’ve often wondered the older I get if that feeling would ever go away, much like children think the days last FOR-EEEEEEEEEEVER while we see the months just flyin’ by.  But I think not.  Weekends are like that I suppose.  Take this one for instance.  Friday night after work I went home, spent some time with my son finishing up our Yu-gi-oh card game we’d started the other night, fixed dinner and then I got together with some friends and role-played till about 1:30 in the morning or so.  Saturday I spent the day cleaning up my house and that evening I had about 12 people over for a game night, full of fun, food and board games which lasted till about 1am again, then a friend and I stayed up till about 3 watching a movie.  Sunday brought church, potluck (love our food!), then home to catch up on laundry and other cleaning up from Saturday, then roller-skating for about 90 minutes then home once more to get the kiddo ready for bed and then I settled in to watch a movie.  (Have I mentioned I really really like watching movies?)  And then this…

Where does my time go?

My son wanted to have someone over this week to come visit and as I started looking through my calender of this week it started looking something a bit like this –

Mon – Work, cook/clean, free rest of evening

Tues – Work, cook, roller-skating

Wed – Work, cook, Bible Study

Thurs – Work, cook, help at church with setting up rummage sale for sending our kids to summer church camp

Fri – Work, pick up drive-through, Game night with my friends

Sat – …..getting ready for my second IVLD day, but nothing else yet…

And I thought how amazing it was that I was the one so busy, not him.  Normally it’s the parents shuttling their children around, but this time it’s me.  But during this season of Lent we are supposed to spend the time in prayer and meditation.  Asking for forgiveness of our sins and spending time repenting.  This is a time of preparation, of getting ready to celebrate the miracle that was Easter.  But it has to start in the wilderness…away from all our business and the responsibilities of our lives.  One thing I found out this year as I was looking up some scriptures for church today was that the whole celebration of Lent arose from the scriptures in the Gospels of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he began his ministry.  It was a time of preparation for him as well.  If Jesus needed such a time before he could go out and minister to the world around him, what does that tell us today about how important taking time away is?

And yet, can we do it voluntarily?  I celebrate my Involuntary Liberation Day the first Saturday of every March.  It’s to commemorate the day my ex-wife left me and I was liberated from the shadows of the man I was.  It’s not a celebration of my marriage ending, nor is it a celebration of the fact that she’s gone.  That’s the involuntary part.  I didn’t want it to end.  But WHEN it (my marriage) ended I was presented with the opportunity to be liberated from the mistakes of my past and the painful habits of a lifetime in a way I never would have dreamed of before.  So I celebrate the vista before me.  I have spent much of the past two years wandering in this wilderness.  Some of it has been my wanderings, other times I have allowed myself to be led.  Sometimes I have even managed to hear the voice prompting me in the direction I should be going.  It’s all been a part of my desert journey.  Moses led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years…not because they didn’t know the way, but because the generation that sinned against God had to pass from the earth before they could enter the promised land.  Those who had never known the spirit-crushing weight of slavery would be able to live and flourish in the new land God promised.  My spirit has been wandering because the parts of my life that have sinned against God must pass away before I can enter into a new covenant with Him.

I wasn’t sure I was gonna share anything about this here because as open as I’ve been on here before there are still some things I don’t like talking about…and I know some of the people who read this…of course part of it’s my own fault, I really don’t have to have this attached to my Facebook page…but this is too a part of who I am, and part of this is a public declaration of my desire to be made new in Christ’s own image and to become a better father for my son.  One of the things I am giving up for Lent is the negative images/thoughts/perceptions I have in my head of my own self-worth and of what women are like.

I struggle liking myself.  I have not had a really strong positive self-image since I was a teenager.  My experience with dating tainted, in many ways, my perception of myself and of relationships with women.  I won’t go into details, but I did not do well in the dating arena and got into situations where the decisions I made had very negative consequences for a number of people.  And for most of the past two decades I have not wanted to forgive myself for those mistakes.  Hindsight is not always 20/20 and the lens through which I viewed those times because the prism that delinieated who I was, what I was allowed to do, to say and to be.  I used the guilt, my guilt, and my shame from that time to build up walls around me and in time they twisted who I wanted to be and I became the kind of person who had to have others around me constantly telling me why I was worthwhile to feel loved.  I was a broken and needy soul who hounded others for approval and acceptance because I would not grant it myself.  I turned from those who could give it to me in healthy ways and instead indulged in a lifestyle of sex and drinking that was inherantly self-destructive, even as I sought out what I thought was love and acceptance.  The arrival of my son saved my life, in so many ways… but it did not uncomplicate it, nor did it suddenly make things all better.  Because of the circumstances of his birth and my relationship with his mother, I still struggle some days with how I view him and what my relationship with him should be/can be/will be.  But these last few years I have had several wonderful, challenging, compassionate people in my life who have challenged my old way of thinking in ways that I don’t always like, or want to talk about, or even think about in my own head.  It has hurt, it has caused me discomfort, examining BOTH the good and the bad actions I’ve done in the past and finding out where the ties are that have bound me down.  I don’t claim to know all of them yet, but I am on a path, and as I’m finding them this Lent season, I am letting go…or at least offering them to God, and trying to get out of the way when God takes them.  That has been my promise to God and my challenge.

I’ve also been struggling with reshaping my views on women.  They aren’t all crazy…well, not mean spirited crazy anyway.  😉

I have been hurt many times by women who saw me as a knight out to save them and then discard when no longer needed.  I have held my partners to unrealistic standards of what one person should be responsible for, it was not their place to heal all the hurts in my soul, nor make me into a whole person.  I need to do that myself with God’s help, and then if desired I can move slowly into a healthy relationship with someone.  But I have lots of trigger points, things that make me nervous, make me mad for no appreciable reason, that all arise from old arguements…  I have used and been used by past partners and desire a new way of thinking, living, loving.  All this is part of my penitential prayer –

God,

You who are our parent, lover, friend, and companion.  You whose love and joy know no bounds.  You who run to us with open arms.

I stand before you… broken…torn…ashamed.

I have turned from you, run from you, hide from you.  I have screamed at you, thrown myself away.  Still you chose to stay close.

I fought you until my strength gave out before the patience of your peace.

Holding me, you took me into the desert.

You walk with me, change me, mold me.  Even as the clay of my life screams out in pain and agony at the process I can feel something wonderful happening inside.

I know it’s not me that’s doing it.  But you require that we agree… that we invite you in.

I don’t remember everything that came before, weariness sometimes overtakes my mind.  But I remember the day I asked you.

I asked you to break me and make me new….and so we have gone to the desert together.

But now Lord, I stand halfway.  My scouring is completed for now… the temptations facing me are almost done.  Once again, my strength falters, once again weariness and shame press close in.

I beseech thee God, wrap me up in the joy of the life you offer.  Flood the wrinkles of my soul with your love.  May the peace of You bring balance to the stormy scene inside me.

My journey is not yet done.

I begin this Lent season with me.  With my sin.  With my repentance.  With my desire to turn closer to You.  Oh Lord, let us begin, and let it begin with me, that I may find new life in You.

Amen.

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What is all this for?

What a week…or two…

It’s funny, I go from writing semi-regularly to not writing for six months to writing almost daily and now back to only semi-regularly.  Not sure why that strikes me so, just does.  Lack of sleep probably.  Life has been pretty busy lately, lots of social events, rehearsals, trying to keep my house in order, bible study, having my bathroom torn out and replaced…yeah…good times… But all in all, it has been pretty good.  I have a group of people I care very strongly about who enjoy hanging out with me, playing games, watching movies and just visiting.  I have a faith community that loves, uplifts and supports me.  All of which is very important when I think about strangling my 12 year old…well, okay, so I only occasionally think about strangling him.  He’s basically a good kid, and a fairly typical teenager.

Which is why it’s so distressing at times to see him succumb to peer pressure when it comes to things like dancing, “gay”-bashing, and telling nasty jokes.  Granted, he hasn’t done much of any of this and it’s all still in it’s nascent stages, but dealing with it is a challenge, for him and for me.  The one bright spot in the whole thing is that he doesn’t seem to buy into most of it just yet.  He’s just as likely to be confused by someone saying/doing stuff like this as he is to join in.  I hope to keep him on my side of the fence for this stuff.  Just gonna have to keep at it.

Of course lately the big thing has been dealing with the neighbor’s Nintendo DS.  My son is borrowing it on sort of a long term basis (my neighbor hasn’t really played with it in a couple years) since we do not have one of our own and it’s been a challenge at times as my son does not always remember to deal with the privilege of borrowing it the way he should.  The other day he was going to a church youth rally and my father, who was taking him, asked him three times if he had the DS with him.  My son, having just bought some new game/item for the thing, lied all three times, insisting that “No, I don’t have it with me.”  Mind you he’s not a great liar (see above paragraph about basically good), but he can be convincing enough to get away with things every now and then (also see above about typical teen).  I caught him in the lie later than evening and as a consequence have grounded him from the DS for the last several days.  We haven’t killed each other…yet.  But every day he has asked about playing the thing.  I understand struggling with patience, believe me I do.  I understand feeling like things are unjust and wanting to have my desire filled right then and there.  And I don’t always succeed where I need to.  But I want my son to be better at these things than I and until he goes at least a full day, waking to bed, without asking about it, he’s not going to get it back.

Which brings me to the topic at hand in this.  You know this whole desert thing?  This whole journey, this conversation with God, there are plenty of times I feel like my son.  That I feel like I just found something I want and I want it NOW.  But I can’t have it.  The time is not right.  I’m still too impatient myself.  I’ve asked my friends to assist me in keeping true to the promise I made of staying relationally free for a year and a day, not because there is anything magical in any sense to it (it’s a strongly traditional time for many reasons), but because without that time limit, without that boundary I know I would go out and find a relationship to get into.  And it would not necessarily be healthy or good for me or my son…but I’d do it because I suck at waiting…and I HATE being patient.  But my father challenged me this weekend.  In effect he asked me why I’d chosen the year and a day.  And he reminded me that what was important, was not the length of time, it’s just an arbitrary number, but what the time was supposed to teach me – which is to take time to let things be, don’t force things.  And give time for not just me, but my son, to get used to the idea of me dating again.  I have to be sensitive to not only my own needs but his as well, without letting either one run roughshod over the other…and balancing is really hard to do.  But what else has all this been for if not for something like this?

God did not make my previous marriage fail.  My ex and I did that well enough on our own.  But God has taken the broken pieces of my heart and my life and has promised to create from the shards a new creation in me.  If I will let Him.  If I will be patient.  If I will just let things “BE”.

I’m trying.

It’s hard.

I want more now, but I also want what I see dimly at the journey’s end.  “When [my] willingness to live in sacred community as Christ’s new creation exceeds [my] natural fear of spiritual and relational transformation, [I] will become who… [I am] called to be.”

I AM afraid.  But the call is more insistent now, not any louder, but I am definitely more aware of it.  The call the change, to be reborn.  There is joy in my heart and my life such as I have rarely known.  And if it is His will, if I can let it be for now, God knows the desires of my heart, and the feelings I have for those around me.  God will not leave my side.  I pray that I stay by His.

Old memories

I found my diary a couple of days ago.  My actual physical diary.  I’d been talking to my son about writing down some of the things he’d been struggling with, his feelings of betrayal, loss of trust, and abandonment.  We’d talked about ways we coped with what has happened and I’d been sharing about my diary and about this blog and he had stated that he didn’t know what to write about in his, if he started one.  So I shared with him the very first entry of my diary, from March 29th, 1991:

Dear Diary,

today was a bummer of a day.  we just left Bizmart and a totally awsome turbo graphic 16 for $125.00!!  & my dad wouldn’t buy it.

p.s. the day wasn’t a total bummer because I hit the jackpot, found money, and get to go to C.P. [Children’s Palace – btw] if dad doesn’t stay too long (he he ha he won’t!!)

p.p.s. He did!!

total bummer

After sharing this with him he had less trepidation about writing something down.  If I can just get him started writing something, to get in the habit of putting his emotions down on paper…it may not be a perfect solution but it would be a start to perhaps allow him some healing as well.  So since I hadn’t read my diary since I last put an entry in it I’ve been reading it off and on, skipping parts and going back to others.  The last entry in the thing however still strikes me.  Not the whole thing, but here is the last part of the last entry in my first diary, dated Jan. 6th, 1999:

Have you ever seen a man so consumed w/appearances that he even orders his own thoughts as to make them more poetic?  The thoughts that one utters when one is alone…?  I have, I see him every day in the bathroom mirror and we cross paths as we get ready for bed.  But I don’t really know him.  Or understand him.  His loss, his hurt, his anger.  Maybe one day I will.  Either that or maybe I’ll become the man on the other side of the mirror.  Never can say…

It’s interesting how things come full circle.  I may have come back to a similar place, a single father,nervous and unsure of what the future holds, but I have gotten to know the man in the mirror.  I have become the man in the mirror, and the man looking in.  It has not been easy blending the two, but I am who I am.  I am loved for who I am, I am forgiven, and I know my boundaries.  My need to be needed and to control others has made my life unmanageable.  I can let go, usually.  I am at peace with being alone – most of the time.  I am not perfect.  And those in my life don’t have to be.  There is a new day dawning and God walks with my son and I.  We don’t always realize it.  We don’t always want it.  But God is there.  And God will not leave us.

It has been hammered home how much my life means to the people involved in it.  People I am ashamed to say I have not taken the time to get to know as well as I should have, have reached out to me, via emails, Facebook, in person, to share their love and support with me.  And I am so grateful and so thankful.  I love you all.  And for those who have ridden this journey with me from the beginning… well, there really isn’t anything else that needs to be said is there?

And with that, I wanted to share the first poem I ever copied down in my journal.  It was from a book of Favorite American Poetry, a book my mother owned and for all I know, still does.  And a friend recently sent me a power point with the first verse of it, something else that was a blast from my past, but I think is very appropriate here:

Love

I love you, Not only for what you are, But for what I am, When I am with you

I love you, Not only for what you have made of yourself, But for what, You are making of me

I love you, For the part of me that you bring out

I love you, For putting your hand, Into my heaped-up heart, And passing over all the foolish, weak things, That you can’t help dimly seeing there

And for drawing out, Into the light, All the beautiful belongings That no one else had looked Quite hard enough to find.

I love you, because you Are helping me to make Of the lumber of my life, Not a tavern, But a temple, Out of the works of my every day, Not a reproach, But a song

I love you, because you have done, More than any creed could have done, To make me good, And more than any fate could have done, To make me happy

You have done it Without a touch, Without a word, Without a sign You have done it by being yourself Perhaps that is what Being a friend means after all.

Saturday morning thoughts…

There’s something about eating brownies and drinking milk while waiting for the water to heat up for hot chocolate that makes one appreciate being INDOORS on a cold winter’s day.  Especially with all the snow and ice outside.  It’s comforting and is a good reminder of how blessed we are.  And if you can do this with the prospect of bacon and eggs a little later, well…. that just makes it all sorts of special.

It is done.

That was what I posted to Facebook after I got back from court.  As my pastor said half in jest, “Once it’s on Facebook it’s official” and he’s right.  Not sure what it says about our society when Facebook becomes the official posting of our personal lives, but that’s for another post.  In my case, it was the easiest way to get the news out to the many people in my life who like me for reasons I still sometimes wonder about.  It took about three hours in total although we were there for almost four (it’s never a good idea to get to court late).  We visited some, asked how the other was doing, traded stories about the shared people in our lives.  When we were called up turned out we had incorrectly filled out one form but the judge was nice and because all the other paperwork was in order, told us “I’m going to give you both pens, go sit at that table and fill this out and we’ll probably still be able to get yours done today.”  So we did, and about an hour later, once all the other cases for the docket that morning were done, we were called up and the divorce finalized.  Then we went to a gas station so she could break a bill and reimburse me the court costs and then she gave me a lift home.  It was  a little surreal and I was somewhat worried about what would happen if my son saw her, but fortunately that was not a problem I had to face just then.  I offered a good-bye, “Ms. [maiden name] it’s been a pleasure and an honor knowing you.  Take care of yourself.”  We parted ways and she drove off and I walked in, neither one of us looking back.

My father and two of my best friends hung out with me during the day (that’s true friendship, when you take a vacation day to hang out with a friend after he get’s divorced), and several more of my best friends came over that night and we had pizza and shared good stories and fellowship for several hours.  Then back to work for a crazy day on Friday and then last night, I got to bed and asleep by 10:45pm.  And since I haven’t talked about it overmuch here, the reason that’s important is because I struggle from insomnia and to get to sleep that early almost never happens.  I was and still am in some physical pain as the stress of the last little while begins to leave my body.  You don’t really realize just how hard or close you hang onto things until you don’t have to anymore.  I feel hollowed out somewhat, although that’s not a good explination either.  It’s more like you do when a splinter is pulled out.  The wound still hurts and the skin around it cries out for healing, but you can tell that the object causing the pain is now gone and the possiblity of healing is now real.  That’s probably a better analogy.

It’s still not always going to easy.  There is not promise of that in any part of my faith tradition or personal belief.  But I know, in more ways than I can possibily share, that I am not alone on this journey, and that I am loved.

The future is bright and it is there for the taking and the asking.  I am working on forgiving myself, true forgiveness, not the kind that bandies about simple phrases to satisfy the ego.  I have to be able to let it all go, but the way forward is clearer to me now than ever before.  So, let this be my prayer –

“I pray not that God is on my side, but that I am on His.” – Abe Lincoln

Nights are the longest time…

So the big day is comin’ up.  Just two more days.  On Thursday at approximately 9:00am the relationship that has more or less helped to define me for almost the last decade of my life will be over and done with.  Space and relationally it ended almost two years ago, shortly before I started this blog.  Legally and emotionally…well, that’s been a different facet altogether.  I knew this was week was gonna be rough, for a couple of reasons.  First of all it’s the 2nd busiest day of the year for work.  Second, the weather and my son make life interesting and a little stir crazy.  And then thirdly, there’s the divorce.  I just have so much goin’ on in my head, even I can’t sort it all out.  Today a dear friend sent me a list of 45 lessons for life in a power point presentation.  I actually had gotten the exact same thing earlier that day from my boss at work, but I hadn’t really wanted to read it then.  The few I looked at in the morning one hit a little close and the last thing I felt I needed was to get all worked up before one of the craziest days of the year for us at work.  And then I got it again tonight when I got home from work after a very, very long day.  And I looked, and tried to listen…  and struggled…

I’m scared.

I’m scared I’m gonna fail.

I’m scared I’ll succeed.

I want to keep on this path, and I have been shown and given such love and support, more than I could have ever imagined.  And part of it scares me.  I’m not used to it.  Even writing this blog, I managed to keep things and people at arms length.  I don’t like to open up.  I know dear readers, it may be a little hard to believe but if you were here in front of me, I assure you the odds of us ever talking about most of what’s on here are about as likely as the KC Chiefs winning the Super Bowl in my lifetime.  I struggle with words, especially when they matter.  There’s a line in a great song I love  – “The more I think, the less I see” – and that is so me.  For a long time I have fought the idea that I could ever forgive myself.  I think too much.  One of my best friends and I, that’s sort of our code for all the things we consider and talk about.  No one else spends as much time on minute stuff as he and I.  There’s a quote from one of my favorite book series by C. S. Friedman, the book is called When True Night Falls.  The two main characters are a warrior priest named Damien Vyrce and a human/demon-prince, Gerald Tarrant, who was once the founding father of the priest’s church, before selling his soul to Fear.  And I think the interplay captures things very well, Tarrant starts off –

“Do you know what repentence means, for me?  Do you really understand it?”  There was anger in his voice now, but it had a desperate edge, “Repentence means standing before God and saying, I’m sorry.  For everything.  All the sins I ever committed, I wish they could be undone.  I wish that I could go back to that time and do it all over again. […]  I wish I could have died before my dream took hold […]  I wish I could have died in ignorance of what this world would become, severed from the world of the living before I could begin to untangle the mysteries that surround me.  I can’t do it Vyrce.  Not honestly.  I could say the words, but I could never mean them.  And my last dying thought would be of all that I had yet to see, which God’s forgiveness had cost me.”  He laughed shortly, bitterly.  “Do you really think that would work?  Do you really think such an attitude would save me?”

Now it was [Damien] who shut his eyes.  He could hear the pain in his own voice as he spoke.  “You’re trapped by your own intelligence you know.  A simpler man would have found his way back to God long ago.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” he whispered.  “Don’t you think that knowledge is part and parcel of my damnation?”

[…]  “No one is ever prepared to meet God,” Damien said queietly.  “We may think we are, but’s only because we don’t understand Him.”

There were many times in days past I felt much more like Tarrant.  The older I get, on the good days, the more I feel like the priest.  Struggling with the good and evil inside each of us, trying to hold onto Hope.  But I’m still scared to go to sleep some nights.  The fear of dying at age 3o is now two years past the date, but it’s still hard to shake the feeling of living on borrowed time.  I try to thank Him every morning for the day I’ve been given.  I know each day is a gift, a present.  I’m just leery of accepting it.  Too many old hurts.  Too many old fears.  They weigh me down and push me around.  And then there’s number 38 on the list… “Yield.”

Every time today I’ve read that one I’ve cried.  Because it’s the one thing on that list I truly want to do, and struggle the most with.  Let go?  Lay back?  Trust?  I don’t want to, but I don’t want to carry it anymore.  Who will I be when it’s gone?  What will be left when everything that has crushed me all these years is lifted?  Will there be anything left?  I’ve been writing in this thing for almost two years and I still don’t feel much closer to figuring out who I am.  Should I yield it all at once?  Can I even do so?  Should I do it a little at a time?  Would I ever get done?

I was going through old pictures today… always rough when you are already emotionally touchy.  Particularly if you are like me and have a tendency to hold on to things that should probably let go.  I have pictures from all sorts of things I probably shouldn’t anymore.  Pictures of ex’s, places and things that are mixed at best in my history.  But they help to tell my story.  But they aren’t always the best parts.  Like the rest of it, should I get rid of them or put them back in storage?  I tell my son over and over again he shouldn’t hang on to the negative memories and emotions, that the only way to move forward is to let go… sounds like good advice doesn’t it?  Now if only I could follow it.

I’m tired.  I’m nervous.  I’m upset.  But in the end, no one has the power to make me feel anything I don’t let them.  And I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders.  I am NOT responsible for the whole world.  Even for all of MY world.  I just wish I was a simpler man.  It’s not the answer… at least, not the one I’m looking for.  I sympathize a lot with both of those characters though in the quote above.  Where do I find myself these days in that journey?  I like Augustine, a man who would have undoubtedly gotten along with both of them.  Valleys and peaks, pain, loss and shame.  Elation, joy and peace.  I’ve gone through both lately, but this… this is definitely a valley.  I knew this week would be bad.  But I’m trying to remember that God’s most powerful when we are at our most vulnerable.  And as pkkid said on her blog, “Courage being only ‘nothing else left to try’.”  Well…

I’ve tried things my way.  I ran for so long and wasted so many year.  I have nowhere else to turn God, but You.  I have spent myself and throw myself on Thy mercy and at Thy feet.  I did not come to dance.  I did not come to sing.  I did not come to laugh. .. I come to cry.  I come in pain.  I bring my fear to lay before you.  I bring my hate and my anger.  I’m too tired to carry them anymore, but don’t have the strength to let go.  Help me I pray to let go.  Help me please to just let go, and trust in You.  You who are and have been worthy of my trust and my love.  Rock my soul God.  We aren’t done breaking me yet, but the refiner’s fire is hot and the journey is not easy for the metal.  Pain and shaping, cold and beatings… but in the end, if we can hold to it, there’s the promise of something different, something better, something stronger, someone closer to You.

God grant us all peace this day.  I still can’t sleep, but I’m workin’ my way there.  And I defintely am never ready to meet God.  But God is reaching out to me and is surprising me everyday with another thing on the list… Number 30 – God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do — and number 34 – Get outside every day, miracles are waiting everywhere.

May you find your miracle.

hard to believe we were ever that young
hope comes in many sizes



Starting off on the journey

Returning to the desert isn’t a one time decision.  And if allowed to take too much time to plan, the reasons for not going forward will become so numerous and oppressive that eventually through their own weight and numbers they will stall out the momentum that sustains you.  It’s also hard as you reach that first rise in the dunes, look back on the oasis you’re leaving and remember all the good times you enjoyed there.  But it’s done, you’ve left, and the memories will stay to provide strength for the journey ahead, because you are not done yet.  The journey is not over.  There are still things to be encountered there that must be faced if you are to change fully.  I was reminded of this by a poem of mine I wrote many years ago, when the birth of my son was near and we were heading into the Christmas season. I called it:

Joseph’s Cry

I’m going to be a father…had you heard?

There will be a little one in my arms crying for me.

There will soon be a little one asking me for direction.

Can I do what’s right?

Can I love enough?

Can I open enough to be a father for this precious life?

What’s it like to raise a happy child?

What’s it like to bring a child into a loving world?

What’s it like to sing and shout and cry with joy over every new discovery?

What’s it like to be a daddy?

I want to be the best at this, but I don’t know how…

I’m not ready for this…

I’m going to be a daddy soon…had you heard?

For a little bit of background, I had been 20 for just over five weeks when my son was born, his mother had been 18 for all of 2 weeks exactly.  We were kids, me still in college, her just leaving high school.  There was enough history and issues between us by then that we had decided not to stay together but would work together for the good of the child.  I didn’t find out about my son’s birth however until we got a call from her mother letting us know that my son had been born and I could go visit him in the hospital over where they feed them in the little windowed nursery area.  It was made clear to me that I would not be welcome in the room with my son’s mother and her parents.

So I went.

A little amazed.  A little frustrated.  A LOT scared.  A LOT of confusion…  I went into the pediatric area, looked around for the place where they put babies in those little glass beds, didn’t see my son and as I was roaming around the nurses station looking for a nurse to ask, I passed by her room.  I only caught a glimpse, but I saw this little tuft of dark hair on his mother’s breast and realizing it was her, kept right on walking.  I walked half-way around the nurse’s station, till I was directly opposite and sat in a chair, my hands trembling.  I was so scared and so hurt and so angry.  Here was life that I had been a part of, hopefully would BE a part of, and I wasn’t even allowed to see it, hold it, touch it, be near it.  His mother had made her choice clear months earlier when she decided she wanted to date what had been on of my best friends instead of me.  That’s a whole ‘nother mess, that I won’t touch on right now.  At any rate, I was a mess of emotion and indecision.

So I sat.

For 30 minutes…

Waiting for her to send him with the nurses to the nursery where I had been told I could see him.  He never came.  I left shortly after her aunt and uncle (the uncle who had molested her for Christ’s sake) came out of the room.  I’d visited with them briefly then fled.  And fled was the right word.  Fleeing my own emotions, the situation, the responsibility, the hurt, everything.  And I didn’t stop for almost 11 years.  Only to stop and find myself faced with an even more daunting task.  I’m heading back into the desert.  I made the choice, I’ve asked my friends and family for as much support as possible while I’m traveling.  I’m doing more praying and trying to find those quiet times I’ll need to spend with God.  I still feel so unready.  I still feel scared.  Not sure of what though. My father used part of this blog in his sermon today.  I have mixed feelings about it truth be told.  On the one hand I’m flattered that it worked well enough for him to share, it’s not the first time me and my family’s life have been used in relation to God and in a sermon, and will likely not be the last.  But on the other, it also made me realize, really for the first time, that I have committed myself to this path.  There were a number of people at church today who now know about this decision and will lovingly support me on the path I’ve chosen…but it does make it that much harder to back out.  Not that I really want to.  But when that reality clicks, when the realization of what you are doing hits… it can be somewhat overwhelming.

My son is also gone today, which has given me time… time and quiet to go over things in my mind.  I drove down with my best friend to a town almost two hours away to drop him off for a two day visit with his mother while she was in the area visiting a friend.  It’s weird with him gone.  And a little scary.  For all that I struggle with the idea of being a dad, for all that I fight for every bit of “me” time I get, this isn’t the same.  And it’s not like when he goes over to a friend’s house for the afternoon.  This is a letting go, which as I’ve stated before, is not something I’m very good at.  I can only hope and pray…and ask for forgiveness.

The Day After the Miracle…

We wake up, look at the piles of torn wrapping paper, new gifts strewn about and dishes from a wonderful holiday meal…and if you’re like me, say – “Now what?  Do I really have to clean all this up, or deal with this right now?”  With all the lead up and preparation for the big day it seems like there should be a bit of letdown the day after.  A chance to catch our breath and contemplate all that we’ve survived.  But life goes on.  Much like after a funeral or wedding, the day after always seems a little strange in its ordinariness.  People go to work, people love, they fight, it still rains/shines/snows/etc.  Does anything change for us the day after Christmas?  Should it?

As we’re rushing around the malls and shops buying up new supplies for next year, or working harridly, one of the counters at said shop…or if we’re home blogging about said people, thinking they’re crazy…we just spent the day with our loved ones and hopefully spent a moment or two thinking about what the day was for.  A little baby was born who offers us Grace, Love and Peace beyond anything we experience here in this life.  But he still needed midnight feedings, needed his diaper changed and all the messy stuff of humanity.  In my humble opinion it wasn’t about being so perfect and wonderful, but it was about coming to us in all this messy stuff of life, where we need Him the most.

Speaking of, my divorce is coming up in a couple weeks…  let’s just say it’s been a preoccupation lately.  Not to mention dealing with my son’s mother who has been pulling my son in all sorts of directions, especially now that she bought him his own cell phone… (have I mentioned that he just turned 12?).  I find myself struggling with the call God is sending me to be someone better than I am, to be the kind of man He would like me to be.  Between that and the pull of the kind of man I’ve been my whole adult life.  The selfish, arrogant, bittersweet one, whose life I really would like to leave behind…but one whose life’s habits pull ever so strongly at me.  I’ve been sent several interesting Advent articles lately, some of which I’ve shared on here, but I’ve also been reading Augustine’s “The Confessions.” It’s an interesting book and has spoken to me rather strongly at points, even though I disagree with some of his theology.  It still is an amazing testament to one man’s struggle with coming to God (and Augustine was an unmarried father too – something I did NOT know).  Two quotes from it really struck home to me recently, the first from Book VI Sec 11:

“Day after day I postponed living in you, but I never put off the death which I died each day in myself.  I longed for a life of happiness but I was frightened to approach it in its own domain; and yet, while I fled from it, I still searched for it. […]  Fool that I was, I did not know that no man can be master of himself, except of God’s bounty, as your Bible tells us.  And you would have given me this strength, if I had allowed the cries of my soul to beat upon your ears and had had faith firm enough to shed my troubles on you.”

The second was also from Book VI Sec 16:

“I did not realize that the very root of my misery was that I had sunk to such depths and was so blind that I could not discern the light of virtue and of beauty that is loved for its own sake, for true beauty is seen by the inner eye of the soul, not by the eye of the flesh. […]  What crooked paths I trod!  What dangers threatened my soul when it rashly hoped that by abandoning you it would find something better!  Whichever way it turned, on front or back or sides, it lay on a bed that was hard, for in you alone the soul can rest.  You are there to free from the misery of error which leads us astray, to set us on your own path and to comfort us by saying, ‘Run on, for I shall hold you up.  I shall lead you and carry you on to the end.'”

The first passage really speaks to me about my own struggle to come closer to God.  I argued with him most of my life about the path I should trod.  It’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve finally started to walk it, fitfully to be sure, but walk it some I have.  I did not want this breaking that has been happening over these last two years to happen, but once it began I did ask that God use it to reshape me into something closer to His will.  It hurts, and is scary, and is frustrating and ask me to admit to things I would rather not, and to apologize for and seek forgiveness for the things I’ve done/said/etc.  I must be shorn of ALL of it before I can carry on.  I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I resented my son coming into my life.  I never really wanted to be a dad.  I don’t really want any more kids.  But I have one and while I’ve provided for his physical needs, up until these last few months even, it has been a struggle for me to meet his spiritual and emotional needs.  I’ve tried to avoid it, give the bare minimum, run away from it.  I had enough of my own problems, I didn’t want his too.  I passes the buck.  And it has cost us both.  Looking at the mountain I have to climb now, I find myself trembling with exhaustion just thinking about it…but the alternative is NOT acceptable.  And so… I took a step forward.  I may have pauseed for a month or two before I took another, but the road has been chosen. We have our moments and there is still much that is not spoken of between us.  The gulf is just there and I don’t know how to cross it.  Something else about that passage that struck me.  I have to find it within myself to let go and give it over to God…never something I’ve been good at.  But as my grandfather would say – “you need to practice it then.”  Urrg.

The second passage was brought home to me by a rather unexpected gift.  I received a lovely cross necklace and a key chain medalion with a Scorpions tail on it.  I’m a Scorpio as was the person who gave the gift to me.  As I was considering these gifts I realized that in many ways they symbolize the two sides of my soul that I have always struggled to bring together.  I’ve never NOT believed in God, much as I have fought Him, hated Him, run away from Him.  I never doubted the existence of God.  I have too many testimonies of Him to believe anything else.  The church has always been a place to experience God and I stay a Christian because that’s how God speaks to me, even when I don’t want to hear it.  The other part of it is, I  find myself, by every definition both scientific and mystical, to be a quinessential Scorpio.  I’m also a INFP (which if you’ve ever taken Myers-Briggs IS the Scorpio of the bunch).  And for those of you who are not familiar with some Scorpio keywords – loyal, jealous, passionate, unyielding, resourceful, suspicious, dynamic, manipulative, protective, secretive, sexual, spiritual.  There is a war going on in every Scorpio’s soul, between the two symbols of our sign, the Scorpion and the Eagle.  And for most of my life, the Scorpion was winning.  I am trying to learn to see with new eyes, the eyes of the soul that Augustine talks about, so that I may leave the earth behind and soar like the Eagle my heart so desperately wants to be.  My prayer is that God will lift me up as an eagle (Isaiah – not sure chpt and verse).  And so, as I run forward and I know exactly where I’m landing I’ll wear both the cross and the scorpion tail, reaching outward to heaven.

What’s your Christmas miracle?