I Don’t Have the Answer

I’m sorry, but you’ll have to indulge me on a darker subject for this post. It is a bit of therapy for me to write this down, though I admit it may be a bit on the selfish side to share it as a post.

My world was rocked yesterday when I found out a great friend in the Bay Area had her husband move out after 18 years. She was part of my running group for 15 years and some of my best conversations about life, marriage, kids, and faith happened during those Saturday morning runs through the beautiful redwoods. Her kids were as close to cousins as we had in California, and even through all the changes in our lives we managed to stay close. Heck, she’s probably one of the key people that kept me alive during my early husbandhood and fatherhood.

And I’m pissed. And sad. And just frustrated because there is nothing I can do about it. I know I don’t have the whole story, so no judgements can (or should) be made. But it still pisses me off because I think of the kids, the goodness that they had as a whole family, the consistency that comes with having both a mom and dad always there, and simply the loss that comes with the break of a relationship.

I want to have the answer. I want to tell them that it takes a lot of work to make a marriage a great marriage, one that gets better and continues to grow despite the pressures of life and the siren call of seemingly greener pastures. I know this because I went through a divorce. Comparatively mine was painless, with only 5 years dissolved and no kids involved. However, I didn’t have the answer then either.

As I get older, loss seems to affect me more and more. Death. Divorce. Wars. Violence. It all seems such a open wound to the goodness I have found in my life and the world. And it makes me cry. And maybe that’s the answer in the end. Just cry for the loss, the ugliness, the pain that separates us from the Good that I believe is at the heart of this world, that created this world, that sustains this world. So I’m crying for my friend, her husband, and her three children.

However, it seems so futile and the only thing that sustains me is hope. Hope that we will figure out how to minimize these pangs, that our lives will continue to make a difference and that there still is a Beauty that will shine through all the darkness.

At the same time and in a seemingly opposite universe, another close couple to both of us in the Bay Area are expecting their first child (see their blog here). They will be incredible parents and just the thought of that family is enough for me to see that glimpse of Beauty through my present darkness.

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Categories: Deep Thoughts, Family

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4 replies »

  1. Paul, I really appreciate your honesty that all our hearts are crying, yet we hold it in. It is grief, and I think it is very good to process this grief as much as possible.
    As you know, I am a deep feeler and I take things very hard- when relationships end, people die, tragedies happen. And I agree with you, I think the older I get, the harder it is to deal with. And so we must be honest. And as Jeremy said, anger is way better than apathy. Some people close up in a hard rock shell of apathy and don’t “feel” anything because it hurts too much. I am also going to leave a quote from my favorite movie, probably one of my favorite scenes- Two Towers/Lord of the Rings:
    This is a seen when Frodo is ready to give up and Sam is urging him to keep going.

    Sam says:
    “Its like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. . . full of darkness and danger they were. and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. because how could the end be happy? how can the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened?”

    “But in the end it is only a passing thing- the shadow. Even darkness must pass; a new day will come. and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stay with you; that meant something; even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances to turn back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.”

    Frodo Says: “What are we holding onto sam? ”
    Sam: “There is some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it is worth fighting for. ”

    Thank you again, Paul, for your transparent heart. It is a gift to us all.

  2. Its better to feel pissed than apathy, “we live in a broken world therefore disappointment is inevitable”.

    Your tears are a reminder of what is important. It is our connection to community and what we esteem as the characteristics that are valuable within.

    There is nothing easy about this situation.
    It is healthy to address it.
    We all need to be talking about these kinds of things.
    How else will we find healing within our broken world?

  3. Sorry to hear about your friend. What a blessing and a privilege to be able to cry on her behalf. I know you’re not a big fan of Richard Rohr but I’m going to quote him anyway. You may even have read it. Ok, not quote, but paraphrase: God is the Great Allower. He (Rohr) goes on to talk about how we think of God as being our protector and provider and rescuer, and yet all these really awful things happen. At the time, I was going through my own grief about many things, and realized that was exactly what I was grieving – that God isn’t my protector/provider/rescuer in the way I think he should be; that for whatever reason, he allows everything. That really gave me pause. I don’t have the answer either. I do think you are on to something about the tears. A friend of mine calls it “God-scrubbing” – we take in and hold the pain and suffering and darkness until God scrubs and scrubs and scrubs it so we can breathe it back into the universe as compassion and peace. Not for the faint of heart…peace be with you as you hold your friend’s loss.

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