But I Guess I Wasn’t Worth What I Would Cost Her

Andrew Peterson: The Coral Castle — Carried Along

I don’t need her love to love her all I can.

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.)

I don’t hold with hav­ing heroes or hero wor­ship. That said, there are two liv­ing peo­ple whom I admire so very deeply for var­i­ous rea­sons that I have to be vig­i­lant in not allow­ing admi­ra­tion to become pedestal-build­ing. One such indi­vid­ual is Dr. Ravi Zacharias (recent events trou­ble me, but they. don’t leave me angry or dis­il­lu­sioned. Rather, I am hum­bled by the real­iza­tion that, ”There, but for the grace of God, go I.”, and that even those who gen­uine­ly love and serve God strug­gle with the sin inher­i­tance we all share.), and the oth­er is Andrew Peter­son.

I’ve spent the last two years being told by the impor­tant peo­ple in my life that I’m crazy. Of those who love and sup­port me, I’ve felt that no one has real­ly under­stood my heart and thoughts. Then I dis­cov­er this song writ­ten by my favorite singer/songwriter; an amaz­ing artist, book author, and sin­cere and ded­i­cat­ed ser­vant of God… He under­stands. Some­one under­stands. At least one per­son under­stands.

I don’t need her love to love her all I can.

That said, those telling me that I’m crazy or a fool were quite cor­rect. I wouldn’t lis­ten. I dis­count­ed their feed­back, not so much because I doubt­ed them, but because of the, nec­es­sary at the time, and awful and so very painful now, stealth nature of pro­ceed­ings. They weren’t “In the know.” Well, OK, yes, and because I doubt­ed them and thought their hearts informed by the taint of this sin­ful world; a world so infect­ed that healthy and God-hon­or­ing appear alien and for­eign. See what I did there? I claimed to be on the side of the angels and con­signed every­one else, even (espe­cial­ly) those poor mis­guid­ed fools who dis­agreed with me, to be unknow­ing­ly agents of The Zeit­geist, the Spir­it of the Age. Down that path lies, if not mad­ness, then cer­tain­ly noth­ing but unful­fill­ment, com­pound­ing sor­rows, and repet­i­tive painful lessons.

Things still do not, for me, process cor­rect­ly and com­plete­ly, and so leave me ever ill at ease. Imag­ine striv­ing and expend­ing all ones’ resources to reach a des­ti­na­tion only to have some kind-heart­ed per­son make the obser­va­tion, far far down the road, that you’ve been hold­ing the map upside down from the out­set. I bounce between cer­tain­ty and self-doubt. Admit­ting error means not only acknowl­edg­ing being in the wrong, but also accept­ing that the ter­ri­ble ter­ri­ble loss will for­ev­er and unchang­ing­ly be so. I still can’t entire­ly let go of this belief which I held. Cow­ardice? Sor­row? I fear that I am the one who mis­ap­pre­hends real­i­ty and I ques­tion my own fac­ul­ties. How much more or less than a few vow­els and con­so­nants sep­a­rate lover from lunatic?

So much pride in what I thought my abil­i­ty to appre­hend and per­ceive the heart of oth­ers. How is it that I, so very emo­tion­al­ly stunt­ed and dam­aged; trained by a sociopath to emu­late a sociopath; hav­ing made a decades delayed start at com­pas­sion and empa­thy; delude myself so unre­served­ly?

Per­haps the song speaks of a mad­man. If so, then I am that mad­man.

I don’t need her love to love her all I can.

Per­haps in this sit­u­a­tion, ‘lov­ing all one can’ means accep­tance of fail­ure, of fool­ish­ness, of error, and vol­un­tar­i­ly incar­cer­a­tion of an organ harm­ful to oth­ers. “If lov­ing is wrong, then I don’t to be right.” becomes the mean­ing­less mag­pie cry iden­ti­fy­ing a self­ish and unkind heart.

When Love Doesn’t Matter and Never Shall

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.)

This shall be a work in progress for a while. I’ve not band­width and shan’t for a while. How­ev­er, I wish to get the thoughts out before I lose them.

I’m com­ing to re-rec­og­nize the obvi­ous.

Wak­ing dream of fail­ing to dis­suade Rain from her hor­ri­ble pur­pose.

Ravi or Ray Com­fort, HAVE “nobody has ever been argued into the king­dom”. Nobody has every been argued back into love once they’ve estab­lished a fic­tion­al per­spec­tive of the past.

I can do noth­ing.

I have no choice but to accept.

I’m no stranger to hav­ing the past, espe­cial­ly the parts that mat­ter most to joy and the heart, torn and man­gled and made poi­son. Bit­ter awful poi­son. And no choice giv­en, no chance of appeal. Like Socrates, I am made to drink.

I noticed some­thing over the last few days. My heart is grow­ing cold to rela­tion­ships almost across the spec­trum of my life. A part of me knows that this is just hideous­ly awful but the rest of me is just glad of the respite and doesn’t want God, or scrip­ture, or church fam­i­ly to inter­fere. That part just wants to dou­ble-down on nurs­ing and turn my back on the remain­der.

Reconnecting a Disconnect?

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.)

A ques­tion has been on my mind a great deal late­ly, and for all my pon­der­ing, I am no clos­er to an answer. Tru­ly, I sort of took a jab at it and real­ized a very short time lat­er how absolute­ly fool­ish the rea­son­ing behind that jab was… it made good log­ic sense, as long as I set aside my aware­ness of the emo­tion­al side of things. In oth­er words, no sense at all.

The ques­tion is, how do you make the obser­va­tion to some­one of, “I get what you’re say­ing in the here-and-now, but it is com­plete­ly at odds with what you did and said in the before-now.”

I’m begin­ning to believe that the answer is, “You don’t.” If some­one has care­ful­ly con­struct­ed an alter­nate reality/belief, or has pick-and-choose-en which infor­ma­tion to retain, to give focus to, and to empha­sis, and which to treat as incon­se­quen­tial, dis­count­able, per­haps even for­get­table, they’ve done it to relieve emotional/mental dis­com­fort.

As bad­ly as I want, for myself (and I tell myself for them as well), doing so is self­ish and unlov­ing. I think that pret­ty well changes the ques­tion of “How To?” to a res­o­lu­tion of telling myself, “You Can­not, regard­less of the effect upon you!”

It doesn’t mat­ter how con­vict­ed I am. It doesn’t mat­ter how much it hurts. It doesn’t mat­ter if it feels ‘unfair’ or like a wrong which needs right­ing, or like the real­i­ty of the uni­verse has gone all off-kil­ter and spun into the nuclear coro­na of a gas giant. If I claim to love, then I must also act in love.

And. I must pray for strength and resolve to over­come self­ish­ness and weak­ness when the hurt and temp­ta­tion begin to bet­ter my weak-man.

What it Means to Fall in Love

With­in this Chris­t­ian vision of mar­riage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at anoth­er per­son and get a glimpse of what God is cre­at­ing, and to say, “I see who God is mak­ing you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to part­ner with you and God in the jour­ney you are tak­ing to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your mag­nif­i­cence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”

— Tim­o­thy Keller, The Mean­ing of Mar­riage, Ch 4, pg 121

Bound to Fulfillment

With­out being for­giv­en, released from the con­se­quences of what we have done, our capac­i­ty to act would, as it were, be con­fined to one sin­gle deed from which we could nev­er recov­er; we would remain the vic­tims of its con­se­quences for­ev­er, not unlike the sorcerer’s appren­tice who lacked the mag­ic for­mu­la to break the spell. With­out being bound to the ful­fill­ment of promis­es, we would nev­er be able to keep our iden­ti­ties; we would be con­demned to wan­der help­less­ly and with­out direc­tion in the dark­ness of each man’s lone­ly heart, caught in its con­tra­dic­tions and equiv­o­cal­i­ties, a dark­ness which only the light shed over the pub­lic realm through the pres­ence of oth­ers, who con­firm the iden­ti­ty between the one who promis­es and the one who ful­fills, can dis­pel. Both fac­ul­ties, there­fore, depend on plu­ral­i­ty, on the pres­ence and act­ing of oth­ers, for no one can for­give him­self and no one can feel bound by a promise made only to him­self; for­giv­ing and promis­ing enact­ed in soli­tude or iso­la­tion remain with­out real­i­ty and can sig­ni­fy no more than a role played before one’s self. [empha­sis mine]

— Han­nah Arendt, The Human Con­di­tion, 2nd ed., pg 237

The Wounds We Carry

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.)

Many peo­ple come to mar­riage hav­ing been seri­ous­ly hurt by par­ents, lovers, or for­mer spous­es. I am not talk­ing about par­ents who phys­i­cal­ly or sex­u­al­ly abuse their chil­dren. I’m talk­ing of the more wide­spread expe­ri­ences of cold and indif­fer­ent par­ents or of ver­bal­ly abu­sive par­ents who know how to pun­ish chil­dren emo­tion­al­ly. Then there are the dat­ing rela­tion­ships or for­mer mar­riages in with the oth­er par­ty wrong and betrayed you. All of these expe­ri­ences can make it extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to trust the oth­er sex, while at the same time fill­ing you with deep doubts about your judg­ment and char­ac­ter. “Wound­ed­ness” is com­pound­ed self-doubt and guilt, resent­ment and dis­il­lu­sion­ment.

— Tim­o­thy Keller, The Mean­ing of Mar­riage, Ch 3, pgs 60–61

I let myself be crip­pled by this for about sev­en years… my own voice com­pound­ed with the schiz­o­phrenic lies and dis­tor­tions of she who sought, with great suc­cess for a time, to under­mine every decent thing I’ve ever been or done.

…extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to trust the oth­er sex, while at the same time fill­ing you with deep doubts about your judg­ment and character…self-doubt and guilt, resent­ment and dis­il­lu­sion­ment.
Even know­ing the voice was one of psy­chosis and hatred, didn’t stop it from wound­ing me more deeply than I could have imag­ined, wound­ing ever deep­er time and time again. I would be filled with those deep doubts about my judg­ment and char­ac­ter. I would despair of ever hav­ing a future, and I would allow axes of utter non­sense to fell my tree-of-self-aware­ness.

I am so very grate­ful, not just for the heal­ing God has giv­en me, but espe­cial­ly for the pro­tec­tion and reas­sur­ance against such attacks. I had thought to nev­er again be sub­ject­ed to such attacks until a let­ter arrived a cou­ple of months ago. This new pack­et of hatred sought to go back to the utter begin­ning of our love affair, well before mat­ri­mo­ny, and paint over great beau­ty with foul and rot­ted pig­ments of self­ish­ness and wicked­ness. Instead of felling me for a time, it became one more rein­forc­ing arti­fact to add to a pile of cor­re­spon­dence which my spir­i­tu­al and psy­cho­log­i­cal advis­ers agree show a descent into mad­ness.

It pro­duced deep sor­row, but sor­row is not at all the same bun­ny of which Tim speaks. You can­not des­per­ate­ly and deeply love some­one, what­ev­er the cir­cum­stances, and not ache for them and the pain, unhap­pi­ness, and poi­son of hatred they con­tin­ue to imbibe.

I won’t say that I’ve grown com­plete­ly immune, and to be hon­est I do not want to become so. Satan does find those very occa­sion­al low­est points to charge one of his tempters with whis­per­ing into my ears tired old lies and doubts. I am glad I am not entire­ly immune sim­ply because the hubris of immu­ni­ty would be an utter lack of hum­ble­ness and fail­ure to see myself rela­tion­al­ly as fall­en man in need of Christ. If I became that, I might tru­ly begin to be the mon­ster she describes. I think Spur­geon said it best when he said, “Broth­er, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be.” All the more rea­son to sur­round myself with friends and spir­i­tu­al lead­ers who know me well and hold me ever account­able. Instead, I think it leaves me clear to see those issues with my char­ac­ter and judg­ment that still mer­it large allo­ca­tions of prayer and effort.

God brings joy in the morn­ing.

Psalm 30, HCSB 1 I will exalt You, Lord, because You have lift­ed me up and have not allowed my ene­mies to tri­umph over me. 2 Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. 3 Lord, You brought me up from She­ol; You spared me from among those going down to the Pit. 4 Sing to the Lord, you His faith­ful ones, and praise His holy name. 5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a life­time. Weep­ing may spend the night, but there is joy in the morn­ing. 6 When I was secure, I said, “I will nev­er be shak­en.” 7 Lord, when You showed Your favor, You made me stand like a strong moun­tain; when You hid Your face, I was ter­ri­fied. 8 Lord, I called to You; I sought favor from my Lord: 9 “What gain is there in my death, in my descend­ing to the Pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it pro­claim Your truth? 10 Lord, lis­ten and be gra­cious to me; Lord, be my helper.” 11 You turned my lament into danc­ing; You removed my sack­cloth and clothed me with glad­ness, 12 so that I can sing to You and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You for­ev­er.

I’ve explored only of the wound­ing caused by adult rela­tion­ships. So long since has God healed me from the first type of wound­ing Tim dis­cuss­es, that I near­ly for­got to touch on the sub­ject. Learn­ing some cru­cial truths resolved my fear of being mar­ried and of being a father to chil­dren such that they no longer seem jus­ti­fi­able con­cerns. I remain vig­i­lant but no longer par­a­lyzed.

I have learned to tru­ly love, to affirm, to serve, to sac­ri­fice, to place the pre­rog­a­tive of anoth­er above my own and to take joy in doing so. I am not my father. I will nev­er vis­it upon a beloved wife or child the ter­rors vis­it­ed upon me; the fear of which kept me from believ­ing I had any right to love and be loved. I will have my own unique blind­ness­es and short­com­ings, but nev­er those and nev­er lack­ing the love and humil­i­ty that keeps me from real­iz­ing (yes, after prompt­ing and time per­haps) that these blind­ness­es and short­com­ings exist.

I like­wise real­ized is that even were there some ‘demon’ hold­ing license to lurk with­in me, a fear I once very much held [knowl­edge of which was used by anoth­er as impo­tent firey dart which fail to wound], I do not exist in a vac­u­um. I will nev­er be sep­a­rat­ed from peo­ple who know me and who have been giv­en leave to look deeply into my life and sift and seek and con­front.

Most impor­tant of all con­sid­er­a­tions is that my deal-break­er-if-lack­ing cri­te­ria for a future beloved is a deep, abid­ing love of Jesus Christ com­bined with a sharp intel­lect, a heart of love and wis­dom, and the courage to be bold. A mar­riage is not one per­son per­form­ing solo, but two per­sons act­ing in sweet and sacred con­cert with one anoth­er.

2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
For God has not giv­en us a spir­it of fear and timid­i­ty, but of pow­er, love, and self-dis­ci­pline.
If one mem­ber begins to play off-piste and ignores the direc­tion of the Con­duc­tor Almighty, the music quick­ly sours and the part­ner in error must cor­rect if sweet­ness is to again be achieved.

I am no longer slave to a heart of fear on this, or this, or this account.

The only way to overcome the unpredictability of your future is the power of promising

When we make a promise we take it on our fee­ble wills to keep a future ren­dezvous with some­one in cir­cum­stances we can­not pos­si­bly pre­dict. We take it on our­selves to cre­ate our future with some­one else no mat­ter what fate or des­tiny may have in store. This is almost ulti­mate free­dom.

When I make a promise, I bear wit­ness that my future with you is not locked into a bion­ic beam by which I was stuck with the fate­ful com­bi­na­tions of X’s and Y’s in the hand I was dealt out of my par­ents’ genet­ic deck.

When I make a promise, I tes­ti­fy that I was not rout­ed along some unal­ter­able itin­er­ary by the psy­chic con­di­tion­ing vis­it­ed on me by my slight­ly wacky par­ents.

When I make a promise I declare that my future with peo­ple who depend on me is not pre­de­ter­mined by the mixed-up cul­ture of my ten­der years.

I am not fat­ed, I am not deter­mined, I am not a lump of human dough whipped into shape by the con­tin­gent rein­force­ment and aver­sive con­di­tion­ing of my past. I know as well as the next per­son that I can­not cre­ate my life de novo; I am well aware that much of what I am and what I do is a gift or a curse from my past. But when I make a promise to any­one I rise above all the con­di­tion­ing that lim­its me.

— Lewis Bene­dic­tus Smedes (1921 — 2002)
“Con­trol­ling the Unpre­dictable – The Pow­er of Promis­ing“
Chris­tian­i­ty Today Jan. 1983

Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.)

Work in progress as I read the book.

I’m not cer­tain what brought this book to my atten­tion but mar­riage is at the fore­most of my per­son­al inter­ests, most espe­cial­ly God­ly mar­riage, and many years have giv­en me a deep respect for the teach­ings of Tim Keller.

I’m 23rds of the way in and I’m rethink­ing how I need to write this review. There is sim­ply too much out­stand­ing con­tent in each chap­ter to cite even a por­tion it all.

I’m absolute­ly lov­ing this book as one of the best I have read in a long long while. I often think peo­ple find my views and ideas on mar­riage to be a lit­tle archa­ic if not strange. It’s very affirm­ing to read a man such as Tim Kel­lar not only shar­ing many of those ideas but expound­ing upon them in a much more eru­dite man­ner. The man fre­quent­ly, I mean very fre­quent­ly, cites the wis­dom of C. S. Lewis and pref­aces it with an expla­na­tion of ‘why’ that far out­strips the one I’ve been giv­ing my pas­tors and arm­chair the­olo­gians for decades. Same rea­sons, far bet­ter spo­ken.

Introduction

Society’s idea of a Soul­mate: A per­fect­ly com­pat­able match

…we quick­ly came to see that we shared the secret thread that C.S. Lewis says is the thing that turns peo­ple into close friends, or more…

You may have noticed that the books you real­ly love are bound togeth­er a secret thread. You know very well what is the com­mon qual­i­ty that makes you love them; but you can­not put it into words. Are not all life­long friend­ships born at the moment when at last you meet anoth­er human being who has some inkling of that some­thing which you were born desir­ing? — C. S. Lewis