I came across this conversation in a book I’m currently reading and it struck me in a way nothing has in a while. I’m sharing this hoping that it’ll make some sense to someone else too. I won’t be explaining it, I’ll leave you to peruse on it, get a message and possibly share in the comments….
We do this every night Mark. You make an attempt at sleep only to have the thoughts come back.
I can’t help it.
Right. You can’t help it.
I lay here trying not to worry, not to be fearful, but everything in my life that seems to be falling apart rushes into me like Attila the Hun.
That’s because your problems are the center of your life.
What’s that supposed to mean?
God isn’t the center of your life. Worry is. Anxiety is.
That’s ridiculous. Don’t go blaming this on me. I have been diagnosed! I have sleep apnea! I can’t help this!
You tell yourself that. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
Nothing helps me sleep at night.
How can you say God is not the center of my life when I am constantly bringing all these anxieties to Him, begging Him to change them?
Yeah. You consider God for a fleeting moment just before you spend the next three hours obsessing over the unfairness of it all.
What would you think? My head is a mess, my marriage is stale, my children are constantly bludgeoned by this and that-just look at Charlie down there at the foot of my bed.
The cast is all the way up to his hip! He’s in a wheelchair, for crying out loud! He can’t walk, can’t swim- all I can picture are those few seconds when he was skipping happily right before the screaming.
Lots of screaming.
He thought his awful summer was finished. We all thought it was finished. He was hurt so badly. I can’t imagine the next time he will skip like that.
You’ve got to stop replaying it in your head.
Do you know what he said while I was carrying him to the car?
He said, “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE JUMPED WITH ME! ”
You’ve got to stop.
And I said, “But you asked, ” and he screamed, “I DIDN’T KNOW IT WOULD HURT SO BAD!”
I just know that clinic is going to think we’re doing something awful to him.
You’re stuck in the circular.
You’re still not learning. This is the way you’ve always lived. Sure, it’s ramped-up this time. It’s suddenly a melodramatic version, but it’s still the same garbage over and over with no change or growth in your reaction to it.
Oh. So, this is all about me, then.
Nothing is all about you. But, you seem to think everything is all about you. That is exactly my point.
Well, I don’t care what you think, because my life is not circular. I am pushing through all of this rough stuff and I just know that any moment, I’m going to reach my half-point.
What are you talking about?
My life-my faith has felt like an uphill climb and I’m ready now.
Ready for what?
For my half-life.
The apex of my experience where learning turns to application and the circular path finally gives way to the straight and narrow.
Where did you hear that?
It’s in the introduction.
So let me get this straight. Your life has been a challenge.
So, your perspective is- expend all your energies attempting to get to the point where challenges are suddenly over?
I wouldn’t exactly…
You really think there is supposed to be some euphoric summit that cancels the climb and begins a slide?
Of course not.
Well, you’ve been living that way. You’ve been living as if all of your pursuits are grasping at easy.
Have so. It’s a lame duck way to live. That’s you, Mark. You’re the Lame Duck Christian.
I resent that.
Think about it. Think about what you’ve missed spinning your wheels just to escape lousy. Life isn’t rosy, but it’s certainly not all eye herpes either. It’s a collision of the two and you’ve missed the better half trying to scrape your way out of the stink. There is no top of the hill-and you have most certainly not been climbing. There is only one you facing the fact that joy can definitely be found on this path, but you’ve got to fight for it because the fight builds character. It turns you into something beautiful. You really thought you were at your apex?
Well, it’s just a theory.
You do realize what an apex is, don’t you?
It’s the half-point.
No, Steele. It’s the high point. The high point doesn’t change you-and that’s a good thing, because this moment is certainly not the high point.
Then, what is it?
The Lowest point possible. It’s when you come to the end of yourself. When you die to your selfishness and surrender to God. But, you won’t do that if you are pretending you’ve scaled some triumphant peak. You are not a martyr, Mark. You’re just figuring out that life can be hard, but that is okay.
If you’re looking for a halfway point- this is it, baby.
The low point of my life.
Embrace it, brother! It’s a great thing to come to the end of yourself because it’s the only place you can truly rely on God’s power.
Accept it. Surrender.
It’s the only way to truly tackle your grief. Die to yourself, and you’ll start rolling despair over and spanking it in public.
But I’ve been through so much.
And, you’re going to go through more, but your perspective on what you’re going through could change everything. Take a moment and look at your wife.
I can’t. Her face is covered with pillows.
Well, take some action-lift them off her. Look at her. Do you remember?
Of course I remember!
Well, then FIGHT for her! Get off your fat patoot and live in a way that will get her and keep her. FIGHT for you. Get yourself back.
I keep TRYING to get myself back!
No. You keep trying to get comfortable back. Trying to get the past back. The naive, undisciplined you back. Forget that garbage. You’ve got to die to that.
That’s exactly what I’ve been avoiding.
Of course it is, because it’s even more painful than what you’ve been wallowing in this past year, but it’s just going to keep getting worse until you decide to dive in and face what is down in the darkest depths.
You say that as if it is easy. I am at the end of myself here.
No. You just think you are. If you were really at the end of yourself, you would start seeing what God is doing. You’re actually quite full of yourself and all the agony that comes with constantly staring in the mirror. You aren’t even close to the end of yourself. You keep saying you are ready for all God wants to do inside you, but you’re not letting any old garbage out to make new space.
You’re telling me this year-all this pain-has been selfishness?!
I’m telling you that you know the one thing you have to do and keep refusing to do it.
I’ve done everything I know to do!
Okay, wise guy, what is this one thing left that I have not done.
Yes. Now. You’ve been stretching this angst out a bit, don’t you think? Make a move. Stomp on that despair. Kill that sucker-punk moneychump.
But death is what I’ve been doing my best to avoid.
I don’t understand.
You think you’ve been clinging to God because you love Him and you want to be who He has created you to be, but the moment that becomes painful, you decide that you love comfort more. So, you try to pray the pain away, refusing to acknowledge that pain itself might actually be a part of the way out of the pain. Everybody hurts, Mark. Everybody dies. But there is much to embrace, to find joy in, to hold onto throughout that very same path. You’re in agony every single day. And you will be until you finally decide to die already. Until then, you’re only living half a life.
But, how on earth do I do that?
You really want to know?
Of course I do!
You cannot possibly really want to know it unless you are really ready to do it.
I’M READY! JUST TELL ME!
Open your mouth and close your eyes.
And what is that supposed to mean?
You’ll figure it out.
From the book: HALF-LIFE, DIE ALREADY (How I died & lived to tell about it) – Mark Steele.