unpublished drafts

Drafts of 16 posts written by my eldest son, William, remain unpublished in the list of posts that I’m able to see as the administrator of the blog I set up for my kids.

William is an excellent writer, and the unpublished drafts include works of fiction, poetry, journaling, and philisophical observations filled with honesty of emotion.  His mind engages his environment with insightful and introspective clarity.  I’m sincerely impressed, and not just as a parent-fan, and I’ve told him so.

He has a litany of reasons for not publishing his thoughts.  “It’s all crap,” he says.  “I can assure you it isn’t,” I reply.  He laughs.

I have had difficulty conversing with William, always, but more lately.  Arbitrary, superficial, tyrrany-of-the-urgent stuff usurps a dominating role in our lives, but that’s not the full explanation.

In the flash-flood of my all-too-often, anger-fueled lecturing tirades, he has struggled  to keep his head above the water.  I heard somewhere once that in spite of theatrical evidence to the contrary, it’s impossible to cry for help when you’re drowning.  Apparently, you can’t gasp for breath and verbalize your need at the same time.

William and I are quite alike in so many ways that I’ve often belly-ached to God for his cruel mockery of my weaknesses by having them appear so obviously in my son’s predisposition.  Of course, William also has been gifted in ways for which I’ve only wished and prayed.

I love him fiercely.  I’m often caught unaware by the depth of the emotion of it.

Unpublished drafts give me a window into his thoughts, those he portends with silent, desperate gestures as he drowns in my flood of words, or the expectation of them.

I wonder about the misunderstandings of so many relationships incurred by the inability of one party to gain administrative access to the unpublished drafts of other parties.

So much is left unsaid, unpublished.  So many misunderstandings persist, and become historical fact, under the constant pressure and pace of time, and our passive-aggressive ability to assume and impose motives and rationale on the empty spaces of conversations.

Imaginations run wild, offense is taken, defense is mustered, assumptions make what they will of us.

After going to bed last night with misunderstandings busily building mountains of molehills, it took 2 calls and 45 minutes this morning for me to hear my wife clearly, and to explain myself adequately to draw out her typically gracious response to my shortcomings.  “Thanks.  That helps,” she said.  That was an understatement of abundant grace akin to Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them.  They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Lives become past-tense with unpublished drafts of real words divulging truth only to audiences who remain perpetually unaware of their existence.

God forbid, please God, that precious gifts and their days are wasted without notice on misunderstandings borne and sustained by silence.

God, please, make me a listener, especially to the silence.

And grant me, always, please, administrative access to unpublished drafts, or at least to the knowledge of their existence, so that I might, with love and grace, persuade their publication.

And thanks, God, for the depth of the well dug in William’s earth.  May it be a fountain of living water.  May your grace be sufficient for us both.

May your grace be sufficient for us all.

an open letter to anonymous husbands

[Author’s note and warning:  Version 1 of this letter, found immediately below, is the unfiltered, uncensored, generally unacceptable,  un-Christian approach to counseling a husband.  I apologize in advance for its publication and will probably regret it and repent tomorrow.  If you can’t stomach it, please do the Christian thing and forgive me, then close your eyes and scroll past Version 1 to Version 2 of the same letter, posted below, representing the more Christian-correct method of confronting marital discord, which I’m sure will make you a proud reader of this blog.]

Version 1:

Dear Imbecile,

Stop being such a jerk!

You are blessed to have a wife who is devoted, supportive, and loving, not to mention gifted, and you’re breaking her heart.

She is not your servant or your doormat!  You are not intended to control and dominate her for your own selfish, misguided pleasure.

She works just as hard as you do, if not harder than you, and shouldn’t be treated like she isn’t making a fair contribution.

Can’t you get it through your thick, selfish head that if you would just treat her like the treasure she is, allowing her to flourish in the freedom of your support, encouragement, and gracious attitude, the blessings of the fruit of all of that would come back to you a thousand times over, and your ugly little, miserable world could be overflowing with all of the stuff you’re so desperately trying to coerce into existence?!

And don’t give me that crap about her not being so perfect!  Of course, she’s not perfect.  Does that come anywhere close to excusing you for your constant, incessant emphasis of her imperfections?  Come on!

You’re suffocating her, and in the process, what you can’t seem to realize is that you’re choking the life out of the one thing that might just make your own wretched life meaningful.

It’s pathetic.  Stop it!

I love you, too.

(And yes, I see the plank in my own eye – it hurts – thanks very much for your concern.)

Version 2:

Dear Brother in Christ,

Isnt’ God good?!!!!  All the time, right?!!!!   🙂

Listen, I have ignored the gossip – I can’t stand that tool of the devil – but the Lord has really impressed on me lately that you and your precious wife might be having a little tension in your relationship.

Don’t worry, brother, it happens to all of us from time to time.  You know, the devil is wicked and always seeking a way to attack the Lord’s precious ones.

So, bro, I’m lifting you up in prayer and wanted you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to or pray with, you just let me know.  I’m here for you, just like Jesus said we should be for each other.

I know your wife may be struggling, but she’ll get it figured out.  Maybe you need to spend a little extra time in the Word with her over the next couple of days.  I would suggest Proverbs 31.

You know, some seasons in life are just real hard, but God is good!  When we get to heaven, things will be great over there, won’t they?

I’m praying for you!

God bless you!

Yours in Christ!

Your loving brother!

John 3:16!

independence day

While diving into a number two combo-plate of Wahoo’s fish tacos on Saturday afternoon with a visiting friend who is currently a graduate student at the University of Delaware, I also dove headlong into a topic that I’d never really broached before – at least not that I can recall.

She launched the conversation with a statement I can’t completely remember, but made the point that she is a very independent person.

I disagreed, “No you’re not,” then proceeded with several time-consuming bites of fish taco and black beans and rice (with that fabulous salsa and fresh lime).  She questioned my counter point with “What? Why do you say that?!”  I kept eating, partly because the food was extremely tasty, but mostly because I wasn’t sure how to answer.

At first, I had made my statement from a knee-jerk reaction without fully considering the source of my thoughts or the implications.  Then, as I chewed and considered, I recalled reading something recently in a book – a book I haven’t even really enjoyed reading – about how the right relationship with God and mankind should be the ultimate form of codependency, in all the right ways.

I still don’t know if I agree with that idea, but I was following some gut-level, fish-taco instinct with my friend that felt right.

I followed with, “Independence is a disease.  It corrupts the heart and relationships.”  I went back to eating.

My friend is bright and a great debater, and I often lose the energy to debate her, on whatever topic is at hand, before she does.  On this Saturday, though, I had been in constant conversation since 6 a.m., and I was on a roll.

The only problem was that I wasn’t sure where I was headed with this independence argument.  It just felt right.

I finally found a path, along with an open mind from my friend, and talked as fast as I could, between mouthfuls and bathroom breaks, and pulled off a fairly compelling argument.  She even agreed with me, mostly, before it was all over.

My point on the topic, now that I’ve been through it is this:  God started this whole thing, or at least the good parts, saying something like:  “It’s not good for man to be alone.”

This is true, and I think we all know it.  In light of that, independence seems like a good attempt at making the effort to defend ourselves from the vulnerability of needing others.  We’ve been scarred from the wounds caused by the risks taken in attempts to find the right forms of dependency, and the pain has taught us to run from it.

The result is a false justification and exaggeration of the noble virtues of independence for the sake of saving our butts from the risks again.  We’ve spent a lot of time trying to stand on our own, just to prove we can and that we don’t need anyone else.

Independence and the ideals it inspires make great fodder for speeches and self-aggrandizement, and I’m acknowledging that the affects of such ideals have some redeeming strength-of-character, don’t-tread-on-me kinds of qualities.

We might even be able to pull it off – the independent spirit.  The only problem is, I’m thinking, at some soul, purposeful-life level, we hate every minute of it.

I think nothing makes the heart expand to its ordained size faster than needing someone and being needed and being okay with all of that.  It’s freedom for the heart, cure for the disease of isolation and false security.

Now that I think of it, that same book – which is turning out to be helpful, apparently – mentioned something about how our worst weaknesses are exploited and our greatest failures occur when we’re separated from beneficial support systems.

In unity with other people, and in unity with God, mutual dependence makes life abundant.  We’re actually so dependent on so many things that we take for granted that we don’t even recognize them any more.  We’re perfectly willing to be dependent on air, food, general health, comforts galore, as long as it doesn’t require a human face.

As we approach Independence Day for this country, I’m not sure my argument applies to nations, but maybe it does.  It’s worth some more thought, I guess, but in light of my concern for my friend’s well-being and direction in life, I’m not very concerned about national consequences.

Nations are made of individuals.  I’ll try to focus on simple conversations with a few of them.  And maybe I’ll try to focus on how much I need those people.

In fact, I’m fairly certain I need you, Dear Reader.  I’m needy.  There you have it.

Since we’re all about vulnerability at this moment, and we’re not close enough to share a campfire and a kumbaya, maybe you could just leave a comment and become a little more dependent for a moment just to keep me from thinking I’m out here all alone.

Life and Real Life

Why is it that life seems to squeeze out all capability of life?  The first life is just the daily grind of activities, obligations, chores, and discomforts.  It is everything that consumes our efforts and thoughts – the pain and difficulty of relationships and losses, and especially the weariness, the illness, the psychological and physiological effects of all of it.  That life gets in the way and stifles the potential for real life.  It is stifling.

Real life squeezes in through the cracks in the other life, typically at inopportune moments.  Real life is often pesky and irritating, like a little boy who keeps asking you to play ball.  It’s relentless and somewhat annoying for being so.  It’s annoying because you don’t have time, much less energy, to play ball, even though you’d love nothing more, because life demands your attention.  So real life becomes the obnoxious one – always poking its head in, begging for attention, like rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds, screaming, “LOOK AT ME.  I’M BEAUTIFUL!”

Just like the bird singing at the top of its lungs from our backyard tree at 6:45 this morning in the freezing weather.  Doesn’t that bird know that life is happening?  I actually spoke out loud to that bird as I got into my car to go to work:  “Don’t you have anything better to do on such a cold morning?  Get a life!”