August 6, 2008

Reach Out

I’ve been really touched by many of the comments and emails that you’ve shared with me. It’s been a balm to me, soothing and calming. Amid all the criticism and judgment and hatefulness, to be accepted by strangers – well, it’s amazing.

And I’ve realized how unhealthy it is for me to be so isolated. I’ve realized how distant we have become from our friends. I haven’t even really given them the opportunity to be friendly, we’ve just withdrawn.

So, I got back in touch with a couple that my husband and I are really close to. This is one of those couples that we both instantly connected with. You know how complex it is to form couple friendships. You both have to like both people, and the feelings have to be reciprocated. It’s complex, I tell ya! And in our quest to find friends that we can hang out with as a couple, we’ve met all kinds of people. There was the couple that bickered with each other the whole time. There’s the couple that can’t make conversation—at all, of any kind. There was the couple that only talked about Dungeons and Dragons. There was the couple whose wife flirted (heavily!) with my husband – in front of me! There was the couple who wanted to psychoanalyze us (he was studying to be a psychiatrist). There was the couple that I caught going through our bathroom cabinet (nothing juicy to find there – all the good stuff is in the nightstand). I could go on. The hardest was the couple that disappeared, inexplicably. We liked them, we got along well with them, we had a good time together. And then they just disappeared. We couldn’t get in touch with them, we tried calling, email, letters. We don’t know what happened.

I didn’t – I don’t – want to be that couple. So I got in touch with our friends. I wanted to at least give them the chance to still be our friends. I’m glad that I did. We’re having dinner together tomorrow night. It will be fun, I’m sure. They said that we don’t have to talk about anything, we can just hang out. They won’t ask questions, they just want to make sure we’re all right. They want to know what they can do to help. They want us to know that they love us, they love me, no matter what. They are our friends. I feel ashamed for shutting them out, and glad to be part of their lives again, for as long as I can be.

This afternoon, a friend from college gave me a call. She and I were so close in college; she was in our wedding. Our daughters are the same age. We have one of those ageless friendships where, no matter how long it has been since we’ve last talked, we can pick right back up. We hadn’t been in touch since last September, and only briefly. She had heard from someone that I “may be in a little trouble.” So she did a little research (yes, it’s all online, right there for people to read about), didn’t believe it, and called me up. She wanted to know if it was true. She said she was concerned, didn’t want me to feel like she was prying, but wanted to know how she could help. I briefly outlined the situation, and asked her to pray. She’s a good friend, and I know that both she and her husband will.

If strangers could accept and embrace me, then it’s not too farfetched to hope that people who love me will do the same.

It’s fear that keeps me from opening up. Fear of judgment, of their condemnation, of their criticism, of a self-righteous attitude.

Here’s the thing though: Our friends, the couple, said that they’ve been following the case via the court website. In the spirit of honesty and disclosure, they wanted us to know that they were fully aware of everything that was happening. And my college friend found all the information on the Internet. Nothing like having the most awful part of my life on display, there for anyone to look into it. And though I don’t mind that they saw it, I don’t like that it’s there. Because I don’t want people to know what I have done. I’m ashamed, and embarrassed. I want people to think that I’m a nice person. I want them to think that my life is all put together and lovely. I want them to think that life is candy bars and ice cream.

I don’t understand that part of me. As a Christian, as a person who has acknowledged my desperate need for a Savior, why do I want to appear as if I don’t need a Savior? To make it seem like I don’t really need Jesus, I just want him as a part of my life? So I can pretend to people that this Christianity thing is all about my desire to become a better person, a step up from the “good person” that I was, instead of acknowledging that I need a relationship with Jesus to help rescue me from the disgusting life that I led, and help me to become someone decent? Why do I want to hide my sin, instead of admit that it’s there and that I’ve been rescued and saved from being that person forever?

I hope, for many reasons, and in many ways, that I come through this situation. I pray that God works a righteous justice in this circumstance and that my family is preserved through it. I am asking God for a miraculous release of mercy and compassion, and to work his will in the heart of the judge. But what I hope for, most of all, is that I can become a more effective voice, able to share about a truth and a mercy and a love that accepted and forgave me, despite the rotten choices that I’ve made. Not to glamorize them, not to create a scintillating testimony, but to speak authentically about God’s love toward me. About his goodness. About his mercy and forgiveness. Not because of anything good that I’ve done. But because that’s his nature. And if I can share about the hope that I have through Jesus, hope for a future, hope for a life ahead, hope that things can turn out differently, hope that people can change, then maybe other people will see that hope in my life and make it their own.


stefanie said...

So glad you reached out to your friends and found that they are still friends!

I'm still praying.

Denise K. said...

What a beautiful post Mercy! You are so insightful, and such a wonderful writer. I am so glad that you have reconnected with several friends who are the "real" kind...not here to judge, but to just be there to support you. I too have been praying for you, and wishing you the best possible outcome as you await the 11th.

Anonymous said...

Your family loves you too...more than you'll ever know. I already miss you.