17 April 2008

Fig leaves and facades

"The greatest loss that we all have to deal with is the loss of the image of ourselves as a perfect person."
~ Fred Rogers

Today I decided to break the silence about my infrequent posting. Like Adam, I felt exposed and vulnerable so I went into hiding.

John Eldredge writes that every man's deepest fear is, "to be exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an imposter, and not really a man." In his popular book "Wild at Heart" (Thomas Nelson, 2001) he continues that, "most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a facade, an elaborate fig leaf, a brilliant disguise."

At work and church, everybody knew me as a happy guy, father of eight blessings, married to his soulmate for 14 years. They admired me and listened to advice and insight that I readily gave. But inside I was ruled by fear--like a cancer it spread through every area of my life.

When I quit my job, my wife quit me. We went from sending me on retreat, to temporary seperation, to divorce. Wait a minute, isn't this superdad, the family man we all looked up to. Well, since I suffered from bipolar disorder I wasn't always the most stable person. Frau Thomas finally said "ENOUGH!"

If a man gets his identity from his work and family, right now I have neither. Broken, I've been in the high prarie of Eastern Colorado recovering emotionally and spiritually. The many books and Scriptures I've read are like healing balm on my wounded soul.

But I don't feel worthy to blog when I'm such a mess. Jobless, seperated from wife and kids, living off charity--some example of a Christian man. I don't believe in divorce, the Catholic Church doesn't believe in divorce, but there I was in court yesterday starting the process that will (in man's eyes) undo the tangled knot we called our marriage. There wasn't even any adultry involved (the only Scriptural justification)--she just couldn't handle the instability anymore.
Regardless, I am seeing victory in my life. Changes in attitude and healings of mind and spirit occur daily. God is good! The work He began, He is faithful to complete.

Pray for me.


Emily said...

This post made me think of a scripture, which I thought I should share with you. John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Your life sounds a lot like my dad's. He has eight kids, he quit working, his relationship with my mom (and most of the rest of our family!) is rocky to put it mildly. Though he refuses to see anyone, a few of us have suspected he may have bipolar disorder. He sometimes talk about lacking confidence. And he was religious.

Instead of developing his faith, though, he's gone the other direction over the past few years. He is bitter towards God and religion. He is also miserable. He blames everyone for ruining his life.

I think that by developing your spirituality, you're doing a lot to make your life better. By spending time reflecting, you're learning and growing. I can understand why people like you and my dad would feel vulnerable and exposed when things fall apart. But something critically important to realize is that everyone has weaknesses, and hard times. The important thing is to rely on Christ, because he suffered all of our pains and afflictions. Not just our sins. He understands what we're going through, and he can console us when nothing else can.

Even during the rockiest times, Christ can bring you (and anyone!) peace. I think a lot of people are tempted to turn to other things-- solutions that the world offers, or even to try to turn to themselves, and fix everything themselves. The peace that these things can bring is not real peace. The only real peace that we can have is through Christ's Atonement.

And, one other thing, even if things are really going wrong, God and Christ love you. It sounds trite, "God loves you! Jesus loves you!" but it really is true. I know that is.

God has a plan for you, you know? And he didn't put you here on Earth to be miserable. Hang in there.

Sorry for leaving such a long comment! I just read your post and felt like I could relate so well because I'm on the other side of the same thing with my dad. And I just see so much good in your openness about things, and I feel so much hope for you that I wanted to tell you so.

I'll pray for you.

mister corduroy said...

Thanks for the encouragement Emily.

When everything started falling apart my first reaction was "Why me God?" and "God please fix my problem." But I decided to stop whining and ask different questions:

What are you trying to teach me here?
What issues in my heart are you trying to raise through this?
What is it you want me to see?
What are you asking me to let go of?

Since I've been reading "Wild at Heart" I discovered that the answers to these questions shatter the false self and start the journey to becoming the man God made me to be.