Friday, January 30, 2009


It's 3:00 in the morning and I cannot sleep.

This is the final stage in my familiar progression of head cold. Two days of head-splitting sinus headaches and swollen, teary eyes during which, if I'm smart, I don't leave the couch. However, by the end of the second day, I've slept so much that I can't sleep that night.

So, here I am.

I have no idea what to write about.

For days, I have been singing a refrain from a song in my head "We need reminding always that we belong to a loving God who won't leave us alone."

It's from an album called Hope For a Tree Cut Down and it's available free to download. A church that's a little like mine created the music for their worship and ultimately recorded it. It's haunting and honest and says a lot of the things my heart says. "We need each other more than we need to agree." It has occasional moments that sound slightly pretentious. What does it really mean to be "intimately broken"? But there is room for poets in this Church, too. :-) Actually, those words are wrapped in such straightforward truth that so many churches do not admit. And it is truth that sets us free. "I am broken. You are broken. Everyone is broken. I am broken. You are broken. Intimately broken."

I think God tells us to seek out relationships so that we realize just how broken we are. There is freedom there.

I am starting to feel a little agoraphobic from all the freedom.

There are different levels of relationships and I think this blog does a pretty good job of reflecting some of the humility and insight that I've received from bouncing off of lots of people and observing how they respond to me and how I respond to them. I think they fall into three categories: acquaintances, friends and family.

But what do you do with someone who feels like family but after only 6 months together feels quite a bit like an acquaintance. I mean really, what do I actually know about the guy? But this doesn't stop me from being my absolute worst and most broken with him. Spending all of your spare time with someone doesn't allow you to hide, much. But he just keeps loving me.

Someone I know told my mother and I that she resolved only to speak to her husband in loving tones. I can't remember who that was. I know that my mother and I both responded somewhat incredulously. Maybe with a little bit of mocking once we were alone.

How could you live up to that resolution and be honest?

Debbie Blue gave a reading at an up-rooted meetingonce and read from her book entitled From Stone to Living Word. In it she said something like, "Love can't be consistent positive regard for someone. How could anyone live with a person and feel that?"

But there is something to that theory of loving tones. How else do you keep the hurt from accumulating? I mean, Jacob's human. When I shout, it's got to cause him to cringe a little, even when he knows it's not aimed at him. How do I keep us from falling into a pattern of hurt and defense?

One of the things about getting married when you are young (I had been 22 for 5 days) is that you have no consciousness of setting precedent. You just reactreactreact. It's honest but can be a little like messing up the foundation for the Tower of Pisa by only a fraction. It's not noticeable now but as you build on that pattern, it becomes a real problem.

Am I missing something here? Where is the bump that helps me skip the groove that I'm trapped in? How are these things reconcilable?

1. Real partnership requires honesty.
2. To be honest, sometimes I have to show him my brokenness.
3. Showing him too much brokenness might ruin our lives.

My therapist tells me that although it's legitimate for me to worry about things like this and good to work them through, I should also consider the idea that I'm looking for a way out. That I've been hurt and that to avoid being hurt again there is a part of me that would rather be alone. I know that I've written about our country's hero complex before. I'd forgotten that it was when I was reading Debbie Blue. Funny repetition there. My reading for my Urban Adolescent class this week talked about it a little, as well. Barbara Rogoff quotes Dennie Wolf:
Since psychology began in this country, the dominant metaphor for a learner has been something between Rodin's thinker and Huck Finn heading off to the territories - a singular, lone figure arm-wrestling the world, some conundrum, or a conceptual matter to the table. We are at long last learning to question the singularity, even the isolation, of that figure.
The point of the book we read is that families and culture are inseparable from the personalities that we develop. How we react and feel is not something that grew in a petri dish. Different contexts create different people. She expands on the Dennie Wolf quote:
The stress on the individual undoubtedly derives from a variety of sources, including the focus of American culture on the independent individual conquering a new land (having left relatives behind) . . ."
But I have not left relatives behind. I am enmeshed in my family and have stated again and again that I desire to be partnered with the right man.

Yet, I look for ways to escape by setting up numbered philosophical "proofs" that this relationship won't work. Those conflicting facts hold true for all relationships and yet, somehow, a lot of them work. How is that? What is the magic that lets them break free of the pattern of hurt and defense?

I wish I had an answer to make this a tidy essay to uplift your day. I don't.

But I have been singing the words, "Receive . . . the blessing . . . of God," which are the next lines after "We need reminding always that we belong to a loving God who won't leave us alone."

As I lay on the couch sniffling and dripping, Jacob held my head in his lap and stroked my hair.


The grammar is imperative, a command. But it could be easily spoken as a plea.

Maybe the magic that lets us skip the groove and keep coming back to each other despite the fault in the foundation is God.

But what else accounts for it?

Hard work?

That fails. How does that account for "better or worse, sickness and health" and all the people who actually live that out?

Receive the blessing of God.

I'll try. I'll try not to give into my fear of being hurt. I'll try to be honest but also to use more loving tones.

But I'll fail. I'll shut out the blessing.

Remind me that I belong to a loving God who won't leave me alone.

Now there's a thought. I can look to be as alone as a cowboy but I'll never succeed at that, either. God will always be there.

So, if I'm to fail regardless, I might as well fail in the arms of man that loves me, right? To also be the arms that he fails within. To show someone else the unconditional love that God shows me? To be that for someone else might just be fulfillment of God's plan for people.

Maybe that's the blessing.


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