Day 4 of 4.
From being or falling in love, perhaps not.
I am in week two of a 10 week on-line course through the Center for Action and Contemplation. The class is focused on Richard Rohr’s book “Immortal Diamond”. I am assigned to an on-line TA (teaching assistant) and small group. Part of our homework is to respond to an on-line discussion group with our small group.
Here is one of the major themes of my marriage to John – No matter how hard I tried I never could be good enough for John, I was out of control.
We can debate whether my perception that I was never good enough was real. Dad often told his children, “Perception is reality.”….so let’s not waste time debating whether it is true that I was never good enough for John. The point is, that is what I perceived.
Particularly once we had kids, I would be angry and overly emotional and explosive. John had no tolerance for that. I tried and tried and tried to be good, to control my emotions. I’d go for periods of time where I was good, but inevitably something would happen and I’d fall off the wagon of goodness. Something would trigger me, maybe it was dishes in the sink, or Benjamin not wanting to go to preschool (my poor baby child, I will always regret the day I dragged you into Tiny Tots by your little-boy arm), or a day which seemed like all others to me which was some random day that the world decided was Love Day, blechhh. Something would trigger me and I’d start to lose control of my emotions and as I lost control I’d hear the voice, see the glare, and feel the judgement of “Maria is bad and she will never change.”
In 2006 I was studying the book or Romans over the course of a year with Bible Study Fellowship. This verse changed everything, Romans 7:
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Romans is Paul’s letter to Rome.
Paul felt this way? Paul, the one who spread the gospel throughout the world, could not control himself? Romans 7 and 8 saved me.
Part of this week’s homework is to respond to this prompt:
How have you witnessed the 3 major themes (below) of the book in your inner experience, Scripture and/or Tradition?
- The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference.
- Death is not just physical dying, but going to full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance, beyond where I am in control, fully beyond where I am now.
- When you go into the full depths and death, sometimes even the depths of your sin, you come out the other side–and the word for that is resurrection.
My answer to 1. was the God Particle thing.
My answer to 2 has to do with control…
2). “Beyond where I am in control”…this is dying to self. Over the last two years I felt like I was Jacob wrestling with God. Despite trying to do everything in a good, orderly and CONTROLLED way for most of my life, somehow I ended up in a divorce which was seemingly out of my control. I don’t think there is anything I wanted more than to have a husband. He was my partner from 18 years of life to 46 years of life. My identity as a married woman died. I’m not quite dead yet, because I am still trying to control things. I still think if I do this or control that emotion or give in to that way of thinking I may again be a woman with a husband. Something tells me that until I fully give up the illusion that I have control over other people loving me, I will not die…and until I die, I won’t hit that bottom and I won’t resurrect.
For the last two years I did not fight being divorced because John and I had not been happy for years. I DO believe we could have worked out the problems with counseling, but John would not do counseling. But I did not fight him. Every step of the way I submitted to John’s will in the divorce.
Two weeks ago John told me he did not want me to be at his house with Cole on John’s nights (Wednesday-Saturday). I was talking with the boys about John’s decision. I didn’t leave John out of this discussion. I regularly call “family meetings” with the 4 of us to discuss things openly – But John was not here for this discussion. One of the boys said to me that he didn’t agree with John’s decision to exclude me from his house. I said, “I know, but I am hoping if I can show your dad that I am not emotional and that I can handle these changes, perhaps he will let me back. Let’s see how things go and I hope that he will see that it is OK for me to be there.”
OHHHH, my God! It wasn’t until writing this that I just realized that I was behaving just the same way I had been behaving during our married life….believing if I was good enough I could actually get John to love me in a way that I wanted him to love me.
Well, as calm as I was in accepting his decision, it only got worse.
This past week, during our “family meeting” he told me he didn’t want me to have a house key and he didn’t want our paths to cross anymore and he wouldn’t talk to me.
OHHHHHH….THERE is that FEELING in my body!!!! There it is. That pain. Just writing this… it is taking over from my toes to the tips of my hair.
YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS?????
It’s the feeling of being out of control. Things are happening which are out of my control. Is this what it felt like when John and I rode the Viper at Magic Mountain in 1997? We were so sick we did not go on another roller coaster that day.
Is this what it feels like to my friend who lost a job?
This morning I read a response that one of my classmates posted on the discussion group. Here is part of what she wrote:
And my last 6 weeks have been testimony to how fighting it, battling to control a date to be healed, being angry and self pitying about the level of debilitation and the phrase “I just want my life back” etc just depletes you more and more physically and emotionally. It can’t but put you in a place of hopelessness because you are constantly seeing the gap of where you are now and where you want to be. And of course it’s all False Self trying to stay in control and some level of success ultimately.
This entry is long enough, the pain is strong enough, the time is short enough that I will stop for now.
Here is the thing about being a Christian, this faith based on Jesus tells us we do not have to be good enough, we do not have to earn God’s love, we do not have to be in control.
God’s love is abundant and universal and great. Most people would agree that love is what we want in the world.
BUT….here is what makes Christianity somewhat unique in the world’s religions…GRACE.
Grace forgives when no one else forgives. Grace is eternal second chances. Grace does not abandon when everyone says “Abandon – leave”. Grace is not justified, earned, or expected.
Grace (funny, I’ve always wanted my name to be “Grace”…I thought it was because I wanted to be graceful, not a klutz) is what I want to be. When people turn away from me, I want to be like the Prodigal Father. I want to be standing at the door, looking onto the horizon, waiting for the day I see my beloved walking to me. On that day, I will run out with the best that I have to embrace my beloved home.
Thank you God that I know what it feels like to love someone who doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. Thank you because it helps me have a tiny glimpse into the love and grace you have for all of your children.
Thank you God. I love you so much. ‘Beloved of God, let us love”.
Once we realize how much we are loved by God we can love in ways we never thought possible.