Life is Messy

The following quote is part of a comment I left on another weblog today:

The game of life is messy. You are going to get hurt sometimes, and at times, you cannot not hurt those you love. Are you going to get in the game or sit on the sideline? Are you going to get dirty and bloody and scrape your elbows and knees along side your neighbor, or keep your uniform clean? Are you asking the Coach to put you in the game?

At the end of last month, I heard the black dog howling. He was very close, and finally bit me. In the previous week, a couple things knocked me off balance. The next week hit me hard with several things all at once and I finally fell. I knew the darkness was going to overcome me again. But this time it was different. I was more aware of it. I saw the warning signs and tried to be proactive. I tried to send out signals to my friends that something was wrong. I needed help.

Something else was different about this one. I was scared. I was moving way too fast toward the edge. I did not know how I was going to stop. The thoughts of certain people, and my love for them, kept me from venturing too close to the edge last time. But this time, it didn’t feel like I loved them enough, cared enough about them to stay back from the edge. The pain was making me selfish and my safety net seemed to be unraveling. I was slipping. I sent more signals to my friends. I wanted someone to reach out to me, pull me back, and hold me. I wanted someone to save me.

They never did.

If they only knew how close to the edge I was.

Sure, they consoled me and gave advice. They listened. They sat with me. They hugged me. What more could you ask from friends?

But they remained at a safe distance. I needed someone to hold my hand. I needed someone to look deep into my eyes. I wanted someone to get in the game with me and risk getting dirty in the mess of my broken heart. No one did. I stood alone at the edge.

It is all my fault. I cannot fault my friends. One always keeps a safe distance, shouting from the sideline, “Good luck with that!” Another is usually quick to get in the game, and occasionally gets dirty at times, but for some reason, didn’t this time. Still another just sat there across the table, probably overwhelmed, not knowing what to do or say. It all made me feel cold and isolated, embarrassed and ashame, guilty for reaching out for help from my brokenness and weakness and pain.

If they only knew how close to the edge I was.

There is one good thing from all of this, a most important thing. One friend did save me. The only friend that really could. He used this opportunity to teach me that he is the only one that will never hurt me, never abandon me, always be in the game with me even if the field is the messy brokenness of my heart. And when the game is finally over, he’ll be the one to wash my dirty uniform too.

I miss three of my closest friends. I have not been able to look them in the eye since. I so desperately want to, need to, but I just can’t. I’m too embarrassed, too ashamed. In a way, they broke my heart and I don’t want them to see it, not yet.

I am not in darkness. I am not exactly in light either. Some of both. Some of neither. I am not near the edge, but I know exactly where it is. I feel…I feel like Much Afraid walking along the Sea of Loneliness.

Thank you Lord for my friends, and all the people in my life. Through them, you send your grace everyday to me. Bless them all. I hope and pray to see each and every one of them again with you in heaven. Until we meet again, let them know in some way how much I truly and deeply love them, and that I would do my best to be in the game with them no matter how messy it got.

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