Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Mercy of the Fallen (1.10.16 Edition)

The other day I made a decision. It wasn’t one that I had come to lightly—it was one that I had been struggling with for probably a month or more. I wittered and dithered and waffled back and forth, I contemplated and pondered and thought I knew for certain what to do—until suddenly, finally, I knew what my choice was. It was a choice I made from a place of being tired of “doing the right thing” when the right thing only left me feeling tired, and lonely, and confused, and questioning what “right” even meant. So I made my choice, and I made it clear what my choice was. It wasn’t one that I would recommend others make, and frankly, my first instinct would be to judge others for making that choice. But oddly, once I “put it out there”, I felt okay.

And after all that, all the guilt and agonizing and desire and curiosity and craving, it didn’t matter. Because so often, choices are made with other people, and so it was in this case. Over the last month, I had been the ‘strong’ one, holding back, not pursuing this choice. And then the one time that I was weak (let’s go with human, okay? I don’t want to judge my friends with that word, so why should I judge myself?) the other person was the one who held us back, who said “no.”  

What an anticlimax, eh? 

In the great scheme of things, as North Korea tests H-bombs and politicians obfuscate and people starve and people are unjustly imprisoned and parents neglect their children and Syrians suffer while we do nothing, our potential actions probably don’t rank as major infractions. But while the great scheme of things goes on, so too do the little schemes—the schemes, the dramas, the routines of my life and your life, and the life of the people we know and don’t know, and love and dislike. And it’s so easy to rationalize a questionable choice as not mattering in the great scheme, whilst willfully ignoring the more relevant and present people and lives our choices will affect. 

I didn’t do anything. I absolutely would have—once I make a decision, I tend not to deviate from it—but I didn’t. According to the Bible, since I already committed the sin in my heart, I am guilty of committing it in actuality. Which is kinda lame, because I sure as hell didn’t have a chance for any fun. But I didn’t do anything, except perhaps imperil or undermine a long-time friendship. I turn in tonight with the same tired, heavy heart that has been pumping in my chest for the past year, but I also turn in knowing that at the end of the day, I am a human, with the capacity for compassion and selfishness and sin and forgiveness, of good thoughts and bad choices, with vulnerabilities and strengths, and all of it, sometimes at war with each other. 

What was the point of it all? Maybe to serve as a powerful, tangible reminder of my own frailty and humanity, and to take to heart what I try to say all the time:

“There’s the wind, and the rain,
and the mercy of the fallen,
who say they have no claim to know what’s right.
There’s the weak, and the strong, 
and the beds that have no answer,
And that’s where I lay my head tonight."
-Dar Williams

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