Friday, September 30, 2011
Fine China & Broken Dreams - Austin
Dreams are baffling things. Like high quality china they have a strength that defies logic. Yet after years of bumps and bangs that suggest they are indestructible, one little tap from just the wrong angle can shatter them. A friendship that stubbornly refuses to give up on someone is much like that. It will absorb the battering of hard use over the years. It might show a chip or two along the rim. But the strength seems imperishable.
My wife commented recently that I was a Good Friend to him. Strange that I feel so little except emotional exhaustion. I wonder if a china cup feels the hair-line cracks before the last bump that finishes it? Does a piece of pottery fear the end as it draws closer? Or does it just determine to hold one more cup of coffee and do its best not to spill?
More than 20 years have passed since I first found myself compelled to believe in him against evidence that even then proved hard to look beyond. As Best Man at his wedding I have stood beside him. I've seen him become a husband--in name. I've seen him become a father--in name. I've seen enough glimpses of strengths and qualities to keep the dream alive; that some day he will grow up, someday become a real man, a real husband, a real father. Yet somehow these last days have poured boiling water into a cup with too many hair-line fractures. I feel brittle and fragile. I fear the one who looks to my friendship as one of the very few constants in his life is about to be scalded.
I've watched other dreams die, ached as I gave up trying to hold the shattered pieces together. Why does this dream, which has cost so much and given so little--feel so much more critical? Can someone put this piece of battered pottery back in the kiln and fuse the hair-line fractures together once again? If that is even possible, do I have the courage to face the heat?
I've watched and marveled several times when I've been too drained to give anything more. Someone else has always stepped in for a few days until I have healed enough to take up the task again. Yet each time the healing takes longer. The hair-line fractures seem to grow wider. I feel more fragile, more brittle.
So many of the people who have helped in the past have been burned one time too many. Why do I almost envy their ability to walk away? Why can't I do the same?
My mind is drawn to a story of a church with incredible stained-glass windows intentionally shattered during World War II. The shamefulness of that act wounded countless people. Yet the shattered fragments now draw visitors from around the world to gaze with awe at beauty brought out of tragedy. Can I dare trust God as I come ever closer to my breaking point? It may be that just one more tap will finish the shattering, leave the dream in fragments I can no longer hold together. God hasn't given up on my friend. Can I dare trust my breaking into His hands? Can I dare offer that breaking to Him and continue to act in love?
If human hands can take glass shattered in mockery and remake something of incredible beauty from it, what can God do with my brokenness? Perhaps very soon I will see. And in that hope there is enough healing to give of myself again, even if it is for only one day more. I have a long, long ways to go before I will ever have given as Christ gave.
Encouragement? Yes! I need it. But the praise that sometimes comes sits heavy on me. I don't feel like a good friend. I feel like kicking him each step around a long country block. I feel like crying. I feel like quantifying the hurt that so many of those close to him have borne because of his choices, putting it all into words and pounding him with it. I feel like walking away and pretending I never knew him.
But God keeps loving him. But God won't let me off the hook. But God keeps calling me to put hands and feet to His love--and He keeps infilling when I'm sure I'm drained dry.
But God. . . How do I get past that? I pray I never get past it, even as tears crowd close.
I no longer have much confidence that my friend will ever change. I don't have confidence that my breaking, which seems so close now, will tip the balance. I have full confidence though, in the relentless love of God. Like The Hound of Heaven, I've watched that love pursue this man for 20 years. And even as I spill my frustrations, there's the sense of a hand on my shoulder and a quiet whisper, "For 20 years I've been painting a picture of my love for you. Are you finally beginning to see it?"
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