It's funny how the worst of circumstances can sometimes force you to look inward in ways you'd forgotten you knew how.
Over the last two weeks my marriage came to an end. Well, that's debatable - over the last 24 months at least though my wife now claims it was over from the beginning. Anyway, she finally let on how she really felt about things and bailed. In the meantime, I've been packing her belongings (mostly so she'll be here less time than if she did it herself) and seeing reminders big and small of almost nine years of marriage. As I've packed, I've made mental and physical notes of these reminders so that I can revisit them in a more serene setting a few months from now and see what it was that I had in my marriage (rather than what I thought I had). Some of those reminders leave a far clearer impression in hindsight than they did when they happened or when I first learned of them.
My almost ex-wife lives to recapture a past (and create a future) that only exists in her imagination. Whether it's the bands she was into or the friends and experiences she claims made her free (with chains of irresponsibility, licentiousness, and moral turpitude), she has sporadically but steadfastly held to those experiences as being the 'best time of her life'. Except for when she hasn't and instead lamented them as wasted years of unhappiness and missed opportunities. Which were they? I guess it was up to her to decide and in the end she sided with her natural man. ("I was a FRICKIN AWESOME artist on dope!")
As I sit here among the wreckage I am reminded of my failings along the way. Too intense. Too serious. Too demanding in expecting that we live to a higher standard, even when I sometimes failed myself to reach it. I'm not as judgmental as my wife would insist, but I have always expected the best from those around me when I saw they had the ability to do so, as I have from myself. I don't see it as hypocritical to posit a difference between weakness and willful rebellion. I picture the first being only too common (and forgivable), while the latter is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. My heart still stings at the thought of times in my own life where I chose my path knowing that it was the wrong one. I regularly pray that the Lord will change my heart to prevent me from ever doing it again and my desire for that to be so has grown stronger and become more real over the past several years. I don't get those who race toward those choices as if their lives depended on it. I doubt I ever will.
So what am I left with? A home I will soon lose. A car I pray will make it another few years until I can afford another one. A house full of junk that I can't take with me into the two bedroom apartment I'm afraid I won't be qualified to rent. Friends and family who love me and are praying for me, but who have lives with families, jobs, mortgages, and trials of their own to navigate. And the best for last; two of the most awesome human beings ever to be born. My sons, whom I love with all my heart, and who make every other trial I (think I) have fade in comparison to the love I feel for them.
I know my wife and I made those boys, but God sent them to us. With them came a responsibility that I feel at the core of my being. They were our responsibility. Eventually, they will be in charge of their own lives and choices, but it was up to us to get them there with the best tools possible to ensure they both have success in their endeavors. My wife has come to the point where my presence in her life is more unwelcome than the boys' presence in her every day life is welcome. That's her choice, but I won't give up my duty (or desires) because of it. I never would.
So the boys and I move forward. Our family prayers have taken on a new tone and spirit since mom left. We have work to do and will move forward trusting in the Lord to guide our way. At this point I'm comfortable with that.