Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Deep breath. . .

I wrote this in November of 2009.  I found it in my "Drafts" folder while doing some sorting.  I had forgotten I'd ever written it. I remember now why I didn't post it at that point, but I thought I'd post it now, if for no other reason that I'd like to have it, and this way I won't forget about it again.

I have largely avoided my blog and my journal lately, save for trifles. Writing has always been how I empty my mind, how I sort my thoughts and emotions. For me, often just finding a way to articulately express what I'm feeling is enough to move past it. Lately, writing anything down has made it too real, even privately. So much has transpired so quickly, but, as is often the case in life, each of the numerous heartbreaks and frustrations we've experienced lately was a long time coming, each represents a deeper problem. Life pivoted suddenly on a cancer diagnosis, but Brad's cancer is the least insidious and destructive one we've been dealing with.

My life is quite easy. There's a part of me that always feels absolutely ridiculous and self-centered for daring to be upset. For all the troubles I've come across in life I know that my life is still ludicrously easy compared to so many others--I've always struggled to believe that I have any right to ever be anything less than completely happy. My life--the parts that pertain only to me--has always been easy. I've always had plenty to eat, a nice place to live, clothes to wear, a car to drive and lots of people in my life who love me. I've never suffered any true abuse or neglect. But relationships are what matter to me, and those haven't always been easy and the people I most desire them with haven't always had a smooth path to say the least. When crap happens to me or I make a horribly bad choice, I feel frustrated and angry. When the people around me seem to be sinking in quick sand or thrown one curve ball after another, I am completely heartbroken.

That seems selfish somehow, even though I know I only feel that way because I love them. Several years ago a friend of mine said something along of the lines of "When I fell in love, I never expected to get my heart broken." I remember I thought to myself (and may have said out loud--I can't remember for certain), "That's what happens when you fall in love." Though there are varying degrees of goodness, all the people we ever love share the unfortunate defect of being human. There will be times when they fail, and if you love them, that will break your heart. And usually that's OK, because we mend up each other's hearts and move on.

There are times, however, when you can't do a whole lot except hang in there. You probably know what I'm talking about: its the father you never see, because every conversation is an argument and every act a betrayal; its the brother you love dearly but no longer recognize through the haze of addiction; its the beautiful girl you watched grow up who is now trying to bury a grief she can't deal with in alcohol and casual sex; its the girl you take into your home in hopes of giving her a better future than cycles of abuse, only to see her walk down the same road all over again; its the young man who lashes out at everyone, powerless and angry at parents who betrayed their responsibilities to him before he was even born; its the suicidal friend who calls you in the middle of the night, unsure he wants to live but pretty sure he doesn't want to die; its the loved one who refuses to get help, instead maximizing the collateral damage of their imbalance.

Its that person you know you can't really do much to help, and yet can't walk away from. A constant tug on the broken pieces of your heart. Long-suffering is just that: suffering long, because even though it hurts, you'd never forgive yourself if you gave up. I find myself watching train wrecks and thinking, "What else could I have done? Could I have been there more often? Could I have said something?" Its not about me, though. Maybe I could've done something more, but that's in the past and no matter what I do, that person still has their own agency. My responsibility is to move forward, to show the most love I can from this moment on, to be the best friend I can starting right now, using much prayer and the guidance of the Spirit to figure out what, exactly, that may mean from person to person and circumstance to circumstance. Being consumed by other people's pains to a point that we are focused more on how they affect us than they do the individual at hand is a problem. But there is nothing wrong with feeling someone else's hurts. The Lord provides a perfect salve for each wound because He knows well each pain--sometimes He grants to us a measure of that empathy so that we can be the kind of friend that He expects us to be.

What I have to be careful of is anger. There are times when I feel like I've spent too much of my life watching people I love hurt and I just don't have anything left. I get angry because its easier than hurting. Its much easier to spit out, "They should know better" and sputter about all the things they should just figure out already than it is to acknowledge that it hurts, that you have absolutely no idea what to do about it, and go to your knees and humbly ask, "Lord, what would Thou have me do?" The answer to that question is not always comfortable. And its almost never easy.

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