Hellos and Goodbyes

Life is so strange. Sometimes I look around and I feel like I'm in a painting. The color, the people, light, all of it. It so surreal. Praise God for the freedom to sit back and watch the world once and awhile. Peace and security are such wonderful things.

My prayer tonight is to love without fear. I want to smile on the worst and extend love in exchange for abuse, insult and cold glares. The weight of that longing is much. The truth is that I'm pretty cowardly and I am cursed by knowing how good it could be, how great a man I could be. Just the thought of what that might entail scares me. The ideals of manhood are pouring into my mind as I soak in more of God's truth, but the rift of who I am and who I could be is growing pretty steadily. It's ridiculously impossible for me to live up to the image of a "man of God" I'm beginning to piece together. All the better, though. This is how God will get his glory. Looks like miracle weather.

Lately I've been a little overwhelmed by the darkness swirling around me. Everyone is so broken. There is dull sadness in nearly every eye I meet. The negativity steals my joy. It feels like there is a regime in place that has outlawed smiling and anyone who flashes one is some sort of renegade. Whenever I feel bold enough to brave it I retreat when not met with a supporter of the cause. I'm not talking about the mouth-only smile. You know what I mean. The plaster-cold Vanna-White-grin that is sometimes accompanied by a laugh that cuts like a knife with its insincerity. Those smiles are government issue Stars of David. The genuine smile I'm referring to seems more like a battle cry. I'm so sick and tired of being scared of showing my soul to the world. I don't want to be a sniper, I want to be on the front line, I want to be Achilles.

My father told me one day as a boy he decided that he would stop smiling. He said he would go around grinning at anyone like a fool, and one day he decided he was tired of being everyone's fool. I don't think he's ever fully recovered. I remember when the same things happened to my little brothers. I remember deciding that a frown was manly. It's an epidemic.

As early as kindergarten I can remember being ashamed of crying, too. Therefore I was determined to never shed a tear. I worked hard. By the time I was 21 I had denounced emotions as the cause of all mankind's problems. Last November I got a phone call and found out that someone very dear to me had nearly succeeded at taking their own life. It was then that I realized I couldn't cry as bad I wanted to. Since that moment I have been fixated on expressing my full range of emotion with confidence, or more accurately, vulnerability. Even the Bible shows a picture of men who cry. Paul, David, and Jesus "wept bitterly". So it's a goal.

In the interest of my fragile faith it would be good to end on a triumphant note. I have been seeing a counselor name Caleb Mitchell for a year and 3 months. This man has seen me change from an emotional vampire, a sex addict, a drug abuser, and a lost soul into a lover of Jesus and has been instrumental in all this. He walked with me through heartbreak, withdrawals, unemployment. and worse. He was gracious when I wouldn't pay him. He was loved me when insufferable. He has shown me what a man looks like, and been something of a father to me. He was Christ to me. He one of the best friends I've ever had, and I love this man.

Throughout this miraculous sojourn, I hadn't cried once in his presence, mainly because I fear men.

I go to Caleb's office last Tuesday, like usual, and plop down on his crappy couch. We start our typical banter to get going, but he says that he's got something important to say before I tell him what I want to talk about. With what seems like a an enormous amount of build-up he says he has decided to quit counseling. My first reaction is gut-level emotion. I start to well up but then instinctively swallow it and stare at the ceiling. I ask him what I'm supposed to do. He tells me he doesn't know because he's never never done this. I stare at his bookshelf and try to hide in the titles. After a minute he ask me what I'm thinking about and I say, "I hate myself for being unable to show my emotions, for not being able to show I care and that this is hurting me." He says,"You just did." I reply,"No they're are just empty words, just like my Dad and his I-love-you's." He then says,"I know it's real, I can see it in your face. And beside that, this is about you and me. Fuck your dad." By the end of that sentence the tears were already soaking into my beard as I looked him the eye and cried.

After a minutes I laugh/sobbed partly because just at that moment I noticed what a funny shape his head was, and also because I realized what had just taken place. I had just done the scariest thing I could imagine: cried tears of love for a man whom I fear. God broke my heart open at long last. Maybe I'll go get "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II" and some Ben and Jerry's and let the floodgates bust since I'm on a roll. Hah!

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