Katja Rosenberg made the news this year when she traveled to a prison in England to have a face-to-face meeting with the man who raped her seven years before. It took her two years of determined effort to arrange this encounter. She didn’t want to confront him; she wasn’t interested in telling him how his attack had ruined her life. In fact, she required nothing from him at all. Katja wanted to give him a gift by letting him know that she had forgiven him.
I was recently reminded again of how every one of us participates in creating the quality of the world in which we exist. Through our thoughts and opinions, we craft our own reality, then we live in this world as if every aspect of our creation is written in stone, an unchangeable part of who we are. That of course is not true.
My epiphany occurred while I was on an afternoon walk, enjoying some Spring weather, talking my music with me. Selecting the Doors album “Strange Days,” I scrolled to the cut “People are Strange.” At first I was so focused on the beauty of nature around me—the budding trees and the evening sky painted in hues of purple, orange and yellow as the sun set—I missed what the song was saying. But something in me said, “What was that?” so I started the song over so I could listen again. The verse says—
It is a lot easier to be a loving, responsive spouse when you feel confident your partner is doing her part. You’ll find it a relative breeze to work together, talk intimately and live life as equals when your perception is he’s doing what he ought to be doing.
But your husband doesn’t always do his part. Your wife doesn’t always talk or behave as she should. Because we all are imperfect, tired, hungry, lonely, put out or fed up, we don’t always do what we know would be the best thing (or even a good thing) to do.
You meet. You date. You have a vivid sense that no other couple has ever experienced what the two of you have created together. You feel so alive, so on fire for each other. Fast-forward a year or two or five or fifteen and the situation seems so different. Something appears to be missing. Now it’s hard to imagine that you were once that couple who felt so in love.
Where is that sense of romance that once enveloped you?
As a therapist I’m often waiting to hear the rest of the story from the people I meet in my office. Frequently what I’ve heard from a couple doesn’t fit with what I perceive when I’m with them in the session. I can see the part they’ve shown me and told me, but I may have a sense there is more hiding in the bushes, obscured from view but present nonetheless. I’m aware of the rustlings among the leaves, so I press on, looking for clarity.
It was on one such day that I met alone with a wife who had told her husband she wanted a divorce. She had moved out, but no lawyers had been involved in their saga, not yet anyway. I had met with the couple several times before suggesting this session alone with her. My main purpose was to find out what it was that made her question her desire to continue in the marriage. As we started, I purposely asked her a vague question about her disillusionment with her relationship so she would have the freedom to respond as she wished.
Have you ever felt like God didn’t care? I’d guess we all have had that sense of being ignored or abandoned by God at one time or another in our lives. Such feelings can last but a moment or endure for years. Maybe you’re living in such a place right now. I’d like to point you toward an event in the life of Jesus that will help you dismiss any sense of “God doesn’t care.”
Jesus’ good friend John tells us that the Teacher and his newly chosen band of disciples were in attendance at a wedding. It was held in Cana, a city just over five miles from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. It seems his mother, Mary, might have been closer to the family than he was; perhaps she was a friend of the parents and eager to share their joy at the marriage of their children.
Apparently it’s a common game on the internet to imagine the five or six or ten people with whom you’d like to have dinner. Some of the lists allow you to pick folks living or dead. And there are sites that actually have a seating chart so you can be the “cruise director” deciding who is sitting next to whom.
It seems that creating such a list would tell you a lot about yourself. Who do you consider good company for a meal? Such a compilation would reveal your interests, your inclinations and your associations.
There are 2,7000,000 miles of paved roads in the United States. Variously called “avenue,” “court,” “road,” “parkway,” “lane,” “terrace,” “boulevard,” “street” and “highway,” these ribbons of concrete and asphalt traverse our country from North Dakota to Texas and California to Rhode Island. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the county, these thoroughfares can help you get there. You can arrive at the grocery store, the beach or a sporting event. You can take an avenue to your place of business, to pick up the kids from school, deliver the laundry and dry cleaning or purchase dinner. And dessert.
Parasailing. The word even sounds exciting, doesn’t it? On a trip to Florida, my wife and I tried it for the first time. We’d watched the other “flyers” on our trips to the beach over the years, but we’d never gathered the courage to try it ourselves. Still, there was such a grace beauty and appeal to the sport, we couldn’t help but want to attempt it.
When we decided we’d give it a shot, we acted quickly. We’d seen a boat going up and down the beach, pulling parasailors into the sky one by one, so we traced that boat to its dock and made our appointment to go out. Then we sat on the boardwalk waiting for our opportunity to experience some high-flying excitement.
I recently watched a boy twenty months of age who was attempting to get his mother’s attention. He wasn’t wanting a whole lot from her. He just wanted to be picked up. His mom had begun to read a magazine and because she knew he wasn’t in crisis, she was in no particular hurry to respond to his increasingly urgent request. In fact she showed an uncanny ability to ignore his pulling on her leg and his pleading cries.
At that moment in his life the most important thing was to be listened to and to get what he wanted. He didn’t care that his mother had put him down only a few minutes ago and that she had been with him and had shown him a lot of attention all day. He wanted what he wanted and he wanted it now.