a formula to live by

a formula to live by

we all get hurt in this life. one could easily argue this to be the defining proof of life itself; only that which is living can be hurt. but not all pain is equal. even the toughest, manliest dude out there must admit that emotional pain hurts far more than physical. there’s something about the scars of the heart that seems to never decrease in its intensity , while mere “flesh wounds” seem to almost fade from existence in due time. i have known my fair share of both kinds of pain. despite my diminutive build, i am pretty durable. the thing though, is that i am largely immune to physical pain, but overly sensitive at time to emotional pain. i joking recount the time i got my wisdom teeth pulled with no pain killer because i literally thought  it would take longer to have to wait for the numbing to take effect, so i just endured. but then there was the one time in college my mom said something, i don’t even know what it was anymore, and i almost killed myself. my wife and i got into it a little this morning. she was talking about some friends of ours being in town and wanting to get together, but i reminded her that it would be a little difficult for me. he and i had agreed that whichever of us managed to get a residency first would help the other. you know, some real life Genesis 40 stuff. well it’s been a few years, and i get the feeling that he is too happy where he is to risk self or spend time trying to help me. it hurts. my wife says i need to not be mad about it; that i need to forgive and move on. but i have. forgiveness does not mean you feel any less betrayed. forgiveness does not mean that it isn’t still awkward when you think about the other person and what place they hold in your heart. like the cousin i can’t see because of his betrayal to the family, this friend too is someone i have long ago forgiven, long since moved on from my hurt and pain, but the scars still rub against my shirt when i get dressed in the morning, the skin is still tight when the weather grows cold.

i alluded to a formula in the title, so here it is:

                       

see, an enemy can cause you pain; but man the amount a friend can inflict is so very much more. let’s look at it in its entirety and try and see what i mean. the closer you are to someone, the more vulnerable you become. sure, you can shoot me from a distance and kill me, but you have to be right up on me to stab me in the back. and especially for someone like me, who maintains layer upon layer of walls between myself and those i interact with, you must be a real friend for me to open myself completely. a close friend lives in your heart, so there’s no effort needed for them to harm it. a close friend is always welcome in your home, so it is not a surprise they can also burn it down. but, and this is important, this is diminished by the openness of your heart. the more open you are, the closer people tend to be, the less painful betrayal of a friend. i imagine that the reason i am so closed off and guarded with my relationships is because i am so weak; then again, it could also be that i am so emotionally fragile because i am not exposed. the point is still the same. those who are open and loving are harder to hurt with betrayal, so the fact that you are close to them is less impactful than in someone who is guarded and stand-offish. last is time. this element is of great importance, and that is why it multiplies the potential for harm. the longer you know someone, the closer you become, but also the more vulnerabilities they have access to. they watched as you grew and changed in various scenarios. they saw old weakness go, and new ones come. this proximity could even give them the ability to predict future vulnerabilities you do not yet have. even the toughest of hearts can be laid low by a long-time friend; time is “of the essence” they say, but in truth, time is really the essence. time grants power.

my friend i talked about has all the makings of a real source of pain. i knew him about 6 years before the pain started. in that time i watched him grow, and he watched me too. he watched me go from a bachelor, to a husband, to a father, to a doctor, to a man of conviction, to a man of sorrows, to a man looking for hope. i have had friends longer than him, but the nature of our relationship was one were for most of the major events of my adult life, he was in a unique position of confidant. i truly loved him, and i still love him and his family. so when his head was raised up to a position of power, and i was left in the dungeon, i had no doubt in my mind that he would do the same as i would, he would advocate for me, he would vouch for me, he would stand up for his friend and fight to the death even. but he did not. it has been years, and still, he has not. “how do you know, kamarr?” because we are friends; i know him, and he knows me, and if he had given it his all, i would know it.

this equation isn’t one you should live by, it’s one you already do. and truth be told, i would do it all again, and so would you. the pain of a friend does not render pointless the joy of friendship. if anything, it just makes you want friends all the more. friends are worth the pain. friends are worth the vulnerability, the danger. in fact, sometimes it is the pain that lets you know a friend is a friend. i recall a time not long ago when a man said some really mean things to me. it hurt bad; real bad. now, not only do we talk, but i had to realize this morning that he may in fact be one of my closer friends. we don’t talk much, and we don’t see eye to eye on many things, but it’s been a long time since someone hurt me like he did, a long time since someone was able to. i realized that i actually valued his friendship greatly, the call he randomly gave me last week to encourage me and lift me up, his smiling face even when he takes you on. reminds me of another friend of mine i haven’t seen or spoken to in years, a friend who could show up right now and take every penny i have if he needed it. because a good friend causes the most pain, and when you find yourself writhing in pain from a poisoned dagger to the heart, you have to realize only a friend could do that; only a friend.  

"eternity is not as long as it sounds. i know, that may seem like i’m making things up or something, but i’m not. see, from your point of view, it seems like an interminable period of time, stretching from beyond one horizon to beyond the next; but this is wrong. eternity is not a measurement of time, at least no more than light a measure of darkness, or water a measure of dryness. see, it is time that is the aberration here, for time is in fact the absence of that which makes an object truly permanent and thereby concrete; time is a measurement of the side effects of the absence of permanence. life was not always this way, though. there used to be no time. sure, days came and went, beginnings were encountered and endings naturally considered to lie in store for some, but time was not then as it is now. then time was a mere formality for addressing the created, because time was still thoroughly acquainted with the eternal. but soon, (i think that’s the right term for when something has yet to happen though it can be seen; soon) you will all be translated into your native form, a form both with beginning and without end. like me. one of the more beautiful things about this, as i am sure you will come to appreciate as well, is how one can step outside of the when to better appreciate the now, but also step into the now to more fully appreciate the always. i would never feign to know the mind of God, but i can’t help but feel part of His beautiful plan was indeed to allow His servants this pleasure in serving Him. while singing praises forever is beyond compare, the ability to at times appreciate what it is we praise Him for is still a treat and a joy. i’m going to let you in on a little secret: this is why Lucifer is so ornery, so miserable, and so very confused; he’s trapped in the now. sure, he can still stop by Paradise for a moment or two, but the music is so tough for him to stomach, he never stays too long. and when he leaves, there’s no choice of when to go, or where even for that matter. he must go back where he came from and when he came from. imagine being a full grown adult who was renowned as the most eloquent speaker, forced to speak in monosyllabic tones and broken phrases the rest of your life. you know what you’re missing, and you would never venture to say that true speech was something amazing and what drivel you spoke now the nature of normalcy. no, and the same with time. the devil feels time now, and every second that passes is in fact merely the sensation of lacking in eternality. like a ghost limb that aches long after amputation, so dose creation now groan for an eternal state as it ages. well, i will see you soon, once you’ve been translated, that is. for now, i must get back to reality. take care!"

a speech from a yet unnamed character in my novel I have been working

priorities askew

i know that the Bible warns us the world will do things in a crazy way, but i am still routinely surprised when i sit and watch just how the powers that be decide to respond to the various travesties around the globe. everyone is quick to criticize God for “allowing evil,” but no one seems to care about how human governments with potential and power chose to ignore the plight of some while engaging on a fool’s errand for others. the whole disaster with the lost airplane is sad; lives have been lost, others have been ruined or destroyed, and relationships and families lie devastated. i am sorry. the issue in Korea is no better. we see people who should be trustworthy abandoning their responsibilities, small children with lives abruptly cut off, entire governments being questioned in the wake. i am sorry. but what about the girls in Nigeria? w have a hashtag. we have a group of fathers in mourning. we have a few who escaped feeling guilty that they are free while their friends are not. and that’s it. no government response. no international workers on the way. nothing. why don’t we send in Seal Team 6? i mean, those guys are a Muslim terrorist group, surely they merit a response from our “international war on terror.” i mean, come on; a hashtag? that’s all we can muster? we do more for dead bodies than we do for tortured little girls, and as  a father with two daughters, this disgusts me. crowds gather on beaches in Canada to watch a whale carcass decay, but no one is willing to take a risk to save the lives of these young ladies? we send dollars all around the world when buildings collapse or towns are flooded, quick to help because of the loss of life, but save a life? no, why do that? we’re spending millions to recover bodies from the ocean, bodies of people we know are dead. we’re spending thousands to recover bodies from a shipwreck, bodies that we know no longer are alive. but these girls are alive; they are being tortured and abused right now, and we aren’t spending a dime, or sending a single soul to retrieve their bodies. if we’ll spend millions to recover dead bodies, then we should spend billions to recover the bodies of the living. if we’ll send planes and submarines to look for the dead, we should send legions and armies to rescue the living. if we’ll devote weeks to staring at the screen searching for one lost plane, we should spend every ounce of our lives searching for lost little girls. that’s it. i’m done.

Meet the New Miss Israel

image
Yityish “Titi” Aynaw, the Ethiopian-born 6-foot tall beauty, captured not only the attention of the judges but also the world when she was recently crowned Miss Israel.

"Faith is not true unless it works by love."

Thomas Watson

"God doesn’t just love you unconditionally. His love is counter-conditional. It is against conditions."

Timothy Keller (via jspark3000)

happy b day to me

ten years ago today I almost ended my life. i was celebrating my 21st birthday with my “friends” and family in Las Vegas; i mean, what could be more fun than that, right? i spent a substantial part of the day hiding in the stairwell of my parents timeshare, crying uncontrollably as my then fiancé, now wife, tried her best to console me and convince me life was worth holding onto. to this day, i still wonder why she would marry someone like me. she’s always there, you know? i think if we could just communicate to the world how much it matters to have a friend who’s always there, more would get married, and more would stay married. i could never forge a bond with another as strong as the one i have with that woman, and i could never want to break it. her friendship has literally been the difference between life and death time and time again.

as a kid, i always loved my birthday. my parents made my sister and i feel like it was your own personal holiday. we never had a ton of money, but money was the last thing mentioned on your birthday. i remember going to Benihanas year after year for my birthday; we always got to choose where to eat for our birthdays, and that was the place to pick for a season. as an adult, i wonder if my parents secretly liked us choosing it, as i now know you eat there free on your birthday; no matter, really, because the feeling can’t be erased. not from my memory anyways.

i started to sour on the idea of my birthday in college,  but the trip to Vegas helped to push me over the edge. when i was 20 i had friends that were fun, but by 21 i realized all i really had was some people on a similar adventure who had agreed to travel together for a season. in Mexico i tolerated my birthday. on the one hand i felt guilty for being so much younger than my friends, and my birthday only seemed to remind us all of that; on the other, i was always on edge, looking around the corner for that thing that would simply prove my point, that my birthday was no longer meant to be a time of happiness for me.

i am told my grandfather doesn’t celebrate his birthday really. i am told this is because the two men he loved and respected the most died on his birthday: Martin Luther King Jr., and his father. that always sounded so sad and romantic to me as a child. the idea of romance has been grossly adulterated in the modern mind. romance is not sappy love stories with Fabio on the cover; romance is an intense appeal to intellectual introspection in the light of overwhelming emotional influences. to lose your heroes on your birthday is romantic. four years ago was the last time i was truly excited about my birthday. i have the fortune of being born at the very same time that future physicians of America find out if they will or will not be hired on to finish their training and move forward in their careers. it is referred to as Match Week, and every year my birthday is either days before or in the middle of it. that first year i was sure, i would be moving on. that birthday in my mind was a culmination of so much hard work and a celebration of what lie in store. but four years hence, i have never again been hopeful on my birthday. i feel sorry for my wife. she loves me more than any other human on earth, and i her; i love pouring over her in love and showering her with affection, especially on her own special day. but she doesn’t get the same luxury. every year as my birthday approaches, i grow more guarded, more reserved, more difficult to give a gift to. i put on a show for my kids, they deserve to feel like their love is received by their father; but i don’t hide my heart from my best friend. in days like these, it often feels like she’s my only friend.

i had a follow up visit with a neurologist yesterday to discuss the results of my MRI and whether or not we had found a reason behind my debilitating headaches. no real answers, though my sinuses are quite inflamed. no tumors, no polyps, nothing to explain it. the doctor wrote me a prescription for a medication that is useful in migraines. i was initially excited,  but then bummed. the medication is also used as an antidepressant, and i have determined in my heart to allow my Depression to be an instrument which brings me closer to God in service to Him. not only do the side effects of antidepressants scare me (and yes, when you’ve seen patients struggling with lifelong physical problems from these drugs, they will scare you), but the spiritual consequences do to. if i rely on this pill, will i rely less on God? will this change who i am? are these headaches really so bad to warrant such drastic measures? i almost feel like it’s a trick, like my primary care doctor wrote a note asking for help in getting me on antidepressants. remember, i’ve been behind the scenes, i know this goes on far more often than most realize. your doctor wants you to take something, but you refuse, so they send you to a specialist that comes up with some excuse for a similar one, and bam! they tricked you into doing what they want, not what you want. i don’t know, maybe i’m just paranoid. Match Week is next week. 

in my life I have had a few birthdays and received a handful of gifts, but God gives me the best. He gave me my wife 14 years ago, my son 8 years ago, my daughter was in transit 4 years ago, and another kid,  baby p, is cooking now. i don’t like my birthday; well, that’s not fair. i do. i hate Match Week, and i pray that one day soon either i’ll get that Residency, or God will have moved me to a different place in my life. then my birthday can be as it ought, no spectre of fear hanging overhead, no dread, no worry, just enjoying my family and real friends worth having, being thankful for my God who both created and saved me, and loving the fact i am a Spring baby, so the weather is almost always awesome and the sun usually shines. now if only i could no longer have allergies, so i can actually enjoy the weather without sniffling and sneezing all day.