As my separation with Jess continues, I have noticed myself seeking solitude more than I would have expected. I need to talk sometimes, but there has been something savory about being alone lately. I have more room to think, feel, and just be. It may look like a personal solitude or a type of solitude that includes the kids. There may be lots of help available with them, but as their father, I want to strengthen the muscle of caring for them. That is my sacred task, and I want to enter it as consistently as I can. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sought respite, but there is something in me that wants to be able to walk my own path without shying away from the hard parts of it.
I seem to think more clearly when I am doing something with my hands. A perfect match for me in my desire for space in this time has been to take on a serious woodworking project. It’s something I can do while the kids are sleeping. I can think, feel, expend restless energy, and learn. The end result will be a butcher-block style desk with many species of hardwoods, the most difficult project I’ve taken on. I’m excited about it. Parts of the process have been tedious and time-consuming, but it’s also been rewarding. Many of the steps were done in my garage, with the tools I have. In order to achieve the final result I envision, I sought out the expertise and machinery of a very experienced woodworker to help me finish the project out. What a joy it has been to spend time in his immaculate shop and learn from his many years of experience! He’s so gracious.
I’ve been re-reading “The Highlander’s Last Song” by George MacDonald, and am once again deeply impacted by it. For those that don’t know him, MacDonald was an inspiration to many great thinkers and has been looked upon as the father of the Inklings, an informal literary group at Oxford in the 1930s and 1940s. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were the core organizers of the group, and it included others like Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. Lewis went so far as to call MacDonald his spiritual “master”. In this novel, MacDonald created two characters, Alister and his brother Ian, who have truly shaped my view of masculinity. How timely it was for me to pick up this book again! The things in it press hard on uncomfortable places. These are some of the things I’m chewing on lately.
- That I am not a free man as long as my world can be shattered by a change in circumstance. God can and does shatter us in order to free us. My world has been and continues to feel like it is crumbling. How joyous it would be to be free of that!
- That having is an illusion in regard to material things. With the possibility of divorce at hand, it shakes me to the core to think about losing the financial stability I have been fighting for. God gave me all the money and possessions I have and may see it fit to take any part of that away. It is a mistake to think that money is a force and not a mere tool.
- That in all of this there is a gift for me to find that I could not have received otherwise. Through being physically separated from Jess, there has been an opportunity for my unhealthy relational patterns to begin to loosen their hold on me. What a severe gift.
- That I need not spend my strength on imagined outcomes or scenarios. The strength I have is for taking the step that is right in front of me. What a humbling thing it is to notice how often I try to look ahead and influence what I see there!
- That in many things God is asking me not to know and to be content with that.
- That I owe my pride nothing. Even if I am in the right, I have a right to yield it to Christ. It has felt like things have only gotten harder, and that God is demanding more and more of me. It has made me all the more aware of my shortcomings and dependent on Him.
My heart can swing dark some days, but I am starting to see more clearly that I need not be afraid of any path forward so long as I cling to trying to do right. If you are a praying person, please pray that I might let go of my anger so that it doesn’t rule me! And that my grief pours out of me as sorrow rather than rage! Maybe even that I might wholeheartedly and joyously say, “Thy Will be done!”