Wednesday, December 15, 2004
but I'm walkin', finding myself in my God
The line above is from a great song, "Retrospect for Life" by Common. I really like the simplicity of that line, even though the song itself is about something else. I'm not sure why I thought of that line right now, but I suppose it's because the words "retrospective soul" were in my last post.
I'm always looking back, I suppose.
In about 13 days, it'll be my birthday and I'll turn the grand age of twenty-six, beginning the slow and inevitable march toward three-zero. My apathy about my birthday is pretty constant, but it's not because I really am afraid of old age - ever since the end of my time at UW, my enthusiasm for my own birthday sorta bottomed out. And yes, I suppose it has to do with looking back at the past - because when things in the past remain unresolved, it's hard to take comfort in the future.
Because December is the month of Christmas, my birthday, and the New Year, my father's absence in my life is all the more noticeable amid the hoopla of holiday parties, church functions, and family gatherings. When I turn twenty-six this year, I will mark almost 16 years since the age when my father died. These past 16 years have been difficult for me, but the past 3 have seemed the worst by comparison.
The underlying thing that got me through those first 13 years was having hope for the future... hope that God would grant a sense of peace or resolution, hope for a better life or that I wouldn't have to claw my way through every single moment in my life. For eight years of junior high and high school, it was hard surviving adolescene without a father - no one to help me with my honors class schoolwork or papers or AP tests; no one to teach me how to drive or help me buy my first car; no one to ask advice about drugs, drinking, girls, etc. Kendo and the many friends I made through it helped a little, but still there was that void... while other kids had their fathers in the stands cheering during fights, I was out on the floor usually fighting alone - my mother rarely came to watch. And through everything, as much as I tried to get along without him, I missed my father and everything he could have been in my life. The emotional scars I carried from his death just seemed to grow heavier every passing year.
But still, in the back of my mind, I thought, If I can just get into college, maybe things will feel different. Maybe I'll feel better; maybe things will make sense after I carve out a separate life from where I am now. I was still hopeful and high point of that hope was my baptism my senior year in high school. I thought it'd be a turning point, and for awhile, that's what it was.
I entered college, and it was best time for me. For once in my life, I could study the subjects I wanted, meet new people, live away from home, visit different churches - even go on a missions trip to South America to a country I'd never been to before. I attended school on a full scholarship, and worked a campus job to pay other expenses. Each year I devoted hours of my time to ministries I felt called to do, from teaching children at my church, to serving other students at my school via AACF. I met many good, close friends and fell in love - for real. Hope's promise seemed finally fulfilled; I dared to think maybe, just maybe... I was starting to be healed. That finally, despite every difficulty, a future had been granted to me.
And that's when it started to unravel. The 13 years were over. It didn't happen all at once... it just slowly built upon itself. As the end of college loomed closer, the endless job searching began. The interviews and many applications. The rejection letters and ignored calls. No problem.. it just takes time and more looking. God is watching out for me, I thought. He'll provide. CoHi 2002 happened, and I was glad for something to put my efforts into.
But after it happened, it was the same as before. Days stretched to weeks that stretched to months that stretched to over a year. Jobless, carless, I had to move back home, back to the area I had despised in my junior high and high school days. Friends pitied me or preached to me. My mom would critique and nag me along with frequent verbal beratings. Even my GF joined in once via telephone.
I felt hollowed out, empty. A ghost. I stopped wearing the chain and cross I received when I baptized, but I don't think anybody noticed. Hope had quietly slipped away and instead, a silent misery took root. I slept a lot, started stashing a private reserve of alcohol, and became president of the endless zombie states of Garrett. I began to despise everything, including myself.
I also wrote a lot on this blog in an attempt maintain some sense of sanity. Most of 2002 and up to September 2003 is filled with painful entries, including this especially angry one. I found some small contract jobs to hold me over, and eventually, made the decision to leave to go to Japan. I felt called to get away from it all, and I can imagine that if I had stayed in the US, I'd probably be burying myself... either in the physical or spiritual sense.
Now that I've returned from Japan, I'm daring to believe that hope again is possible. But I'm standing on a very thin margin, my heels on the edge of a cliff while my toes dangle in the empty air. It seems everybody else in the world is moving forward, and I'm still dreading the possibility that another shove will again drive me to the depths of hating everything again, including the One I've placed my faith - because my the last few years have whittled away the hope and trust I once might have had.
I could ramble endlessly about the frame of mind that gives me, but the fact is this: I'll always be looking back until I've been restored. Emptiness will always remain until a peace has been granted to me about everything that has happened in the past. There will never be serenity in my life until the 10 year old boy has been healed - that out of his own personal tragedy sprang something better and fulfilled his small hopes. And as long as the void exists, as long the promises of faith remain unfulfilled... there will be doubt... and anger... and... bitterness.
I'm off to NorCal tonight to attend another wedding. I'll be back in Seattle next Wednesday.
don't wanna marginalize the difficulties you've faced, but what promises of faith are unfulfilled? what would restoration look like if you have not already been restored in christ?
That's a good question. And I'm not sure I have the answer... but I know it goes beyond mere feelings or circumstances.
But if I'm living restored and victorious life in Christ, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to others.
I forgot to say that last sentence is in reference to my life at the moment and/of the past three years.
Anyways, don't take anything I write too seriously. I'm not a theologian or Biblical scholar in any sense of the word.
Bro, I share your sentiment. Rose-colored glasses? Yeah, mine also got stepped on after graduating from college.
Hey manPost a Comment
just keep walkin' - that's all you can do. That's all He asks. And that edge you're standing on - it's not a bad place to be.
Oh, I noticed that you like Kepano Green - don't know if you were aware of this, but they've got a new album...