My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.Faith, as it represents to billions of people around the world, is something very near and dear to my heart. It is something more beautiful than a million perfect sunsets; it is a power, when wielded by the unjust, more destructive than a million nuclear weapons.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Last night, I talked to an old friend about a difficult choice she now must make. It is not so much about choosing the path towards continued emotional abuse and torment - for anybody that has been a victim of such things, that path leads to nowhere.
Choosing the path towards a better life, free of such torment, is always the hardest choice in the world. Anyone who says otherwise has obviously never had to make such a choice.
I'm a huge fan of clergy like Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century's great peacemakers and preligious thinkers. I posted this once or twice a while ago, but a few years ago I actually contemplated going to seminary and becoming an Episcopal priest. Sometimes, I think the fact that I do have faith in something beyond myself scares the crap out of people.
In 1998, I was in an extremely bad relationship, a relationship that fed two things. First, my girlfriend at the time, an extremely abusive alcoholic and addict, fed my desire to feel loved back by someone I loved. Secondly, being involved with a stripper who also had a drug problem fed my need for more and more cocaine, angel dust, and other substances.
That's right, kids. I said cocaine. I said angel dust. If there are colleagues reading this who want to huff and puff about a professional admitting they once had a substance abuse problem, fee free. I refuse to be embarrassed about it.
I'm proud to say I've been clean for eight years this August. Going cold turkey, a la Trainspotting, is probably the single greatest accomplishment of my life, if for no other reason than the fact that it gave me my life back.
On a hot August afternoon in 1998, I was sitting on a curb outside of my apartment. My then-fiance was sitting in the back of a police cruiser for trying to kill me. The officer taking my statement asked me if there were any other narcotics in the apartment, other than the stuff they had found under the mattress.
He told me I could come clean or he's search for me. So we walked back into the apartment, took the back off of the toilet, and I proceeded to flush about $2,000 worth of narcotics down the drain. The officer asked if I was a Christian; I said no, yet he insisted on praying with me anyway.
While waiting for the domestic violence couselor to show up, he explained why he'd let me flush and why he'd insisted on praying. The officer explained, in detail, about how an abusive alcoholic father had called him fat fuck as a term of endearment, how he'd started drinking beer as a kid, married an emotionally abusive woman, and finally hit rock bottom himself and reclaimed his own life.
When he showed me his Al-Anon sobriety pin, 20 years dry, I wanted to cry. But I just promised to consider changing my life. That was all it took.
After I talked with the DV counselor, I paged my best friend. He decided - for me - that I could no longer live like I lived. Within 48 hours, he'd found about 15 people to come move me out of my place, convinced me to move a thousand miles away to California, and moved me temporarily into his apartent.
Faith is, in the end, a powerful thing. It was the officer's faith in the power of a simple choice that kept me out of jail. It was my friend Chewie's faith in me that forced me to make those hard, simple choices.
But it was having the faith of a mustard seed, a little faith in myself, that kept me going. It's what forced me to address the fact that, in 2003, I'd fallen in another abusive, potentially fatal relationship. It's what forced me to finally begin to get comfortable in my own skin again.
A little faith goes a long way.
To the friend in question (and I know she reads and I know she'll know who I'm talking about) Miz Bohemia, Kendra (hope work has been going better, chica), and anybody else out there who may need a pick-me-up, the Thomas Merton prayer is one of my favorite reads when times get tough.
Its a reminder that even 20th century Trappist monks needed to do some soul-searching to figure out their own whos, whats, whys, and hows. Religious stuff aside, it's a pleasant reminder of how human everybody is, even in the cold, dark void of cyberspace.