While reviewing my blog, I discovered this post from a couple of years back which I failed to publish. It obviously is dated and doesn’t match the calendar, but it’s still applicable.
It’s been an awesome day filled with love and joy. Surrounded by my loving wife, beautiful daughters, awesome son in law, and two granddaughters – one of which is only 1 week old – we have loved and laughed.
I have carried with me an asterisk. There in the back of my mind. There in the scar tissue part of my heart. The * ties itself to everything I am and attempt to do. The * that changes the way I’m viewed.
A faithful husband – with an * of past failures. A nagging memory that won’t go away. I know she feels it, too.
A good dad – except for that awful * that haunts my efforts to lead my family. I fear they feel it, too.
Well, * is what * is. This “holiday” has been a tad tarnished. For me anyway.
Tomorrow will be a new day with new mercies. I will trust that He will bring some new healing and strength.
Maybe in time the * will shrink in its influence and power over me.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the saying, “You aren’t defined by your mistakes,” but I’ve not been able to put my finger on just why.
I sat in a very special event today. It was an event that caused some connections to finally come together for me. I was at the same time feeling such pride and joy, as well as the deepest soul-wrenching pain imaginable.
We’ll call my big mistake (described in previous posts) the watershed event. It was a dozy, I fully admit and take responsibility for it. However, I’m becoming more and more convinced that some of the people in my life view me in light of that one event.
Everything good I did before is discounted.
Everything good I do after is doubted.
As much as I say and do to prove otherwise, I stand helpless in the face of the decisions of others to so define me.
I enjoyed a quiet drive through the country today. One of most favorite things to do. I had my youngest daughter with me and I was pointing out different things and sharing some of my experiences growing up in the country. It wasn’t too long and she was engrossed in something on her phone, so I just moved to musing to myself.
I was struck by a particular sight that I’ve been mulling over. It seems like this was on my mind since the instant I saw it. A large acreage heavily fenced in…a well-worn path just inside the fence line obvious from daily trips tending to the fence…pastureland that has long passed from valuable and useful into a state of neglect and harboring weeds, thistles, saplings, and brush. A gently rolling landscape of what must have been, in the past, the pride and joy of someone…but has since devolved into just something ugly.
The thought came to me immediately that this is what has happened to the church in some places. So much attention has been paid to tending fence to keep in the flock and keep out the unwanted, that the vitality and beauty of the thing has turned ugly from neglect and distraction on lesser priorities. To the point that those who pass by have no interest of getting in any longer.
I remarked to my daughter that the owner needed to do some serious “brush hogging” and burning to save the value of his property.
Maybe God does, too.
In some places I’ve been told I’m not wanted, no longer valuable, not even to be a greeter or usher…certainly not to “minister” in any way. There have been times I’ve been tempted to just keep moving on and not give the church a second chance. But, I keep driving by, hoping against hope that one day I will find an open gate and a pastureland that is beautiful from its tending.
A month ago, just before sunset, I was out walking along a quiet rural road near my home when my phone rang.
“Are you sitting down?” My mother asked in a voice that clearly wasn’t normal. I wasn’t, but there wasn’t anywhere convenient to sit nearby, so I asked what was wrong anyway.
“Trent was killed in a car accident tonight.”
Trent is—I typed is out of habit, but now realize I must say was—my 18-year-old nephew. He was on his way home from studying with friends, and would have graduated from high school in just three weeks.
The day he died was also, as it happened, his mother’s birthday. Two days after Mother’s Day.
There is a before and after to grief: one minute, your life, and the lives of your family members are humming along in the ordinary way; the next moment, you enter a new and very…
My therapist told me that the more transparency I can have in my life, the happier I will be. I believe it. However, in my world, with my specific circumstances, it’s just not the best choice, either for me or for my family. I would experience more loss of close family than I care to deal with, and my wife and children would have to suffer multiple times more than they already do.
So, I continue to trust God for some kind of flourishing life within this cocoon…the shell that hides my straight acting, confident, hopeful, Christian, insecure, fearful, gay self.
It’s a place of safety. A place where I can hide, where all my stuff can be kept safely out of view of those who would never understand and who would wish me harm.
I work really hard at maintaining the shell’s strength and ensuring its integrity. But the tiniest fault line in this shell risks the oozing out of what I’ve kept so closely hidden for so long. I just can’t let that happen.
Except for the rare peek inside that I’ve allowed a few people to have, the cocoon remains intact.
I’m still here, alive and well…and doing a little better every day.