“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d”
– Alexander Pope,
I don’t know how much I can write about this, cos my thoughts today are really desperately shallow. Those of you reading this may already know who I am, my past, my flaws, my shame. I was not the same person you thought you met, the person you decided to be friends with. That is going to change how you treat me, and in turn, change the way I treat you.
Is it wrong that in all initial meetings, our excitement flares, and in all long friendships, it dies down? I used to tell my girlfriend that I didn’t love her for who she was, but who she could become. She never liked that, she always wanted to be loved for who she was. That was the problem, I knew everything about her, and I knew that who she was can never be fully loved. I knew how disturbingly dysfunctional she could be, from her actions to her motivations, and I could never love a person like that.
Same is true for myself, I know my own story, from my actions to my motivations, and how unlovable I am too. We have a saying in Christianity, that when God looks at us, he sees the perfection of His Son. That’s how I treat the people around me too. I don’t care who they are now, to me I see that you’re my perfect friend, not because of who you are, but because of what you could be. I treat you like you’re my perfect friend, maybe it doesn’t always feel like it, I may not do it perfectly, but that’s how I aim my actions.
My girlfriend never could be fully honest with anyone. Trust was something she didn’t allow herself. To be honest, I’m now really tempted to give up on trust too. It’s bad enough we suffer in life, but to know that we mostly bring it upon ourselves and deserve every last bit of it, is as close to hell as we can feel on this side of the grave. We are not remotely good, and yet when God reads the image on me, it says ‘Son’ and not ‘Sinner’, he sees who I could be, not who I am now. When I see my friends, I see ‘friends’, not traitors who abandoned me when I needed them most. Jesus himself called Judas his ‘friend’ at His betrayal.
I think to myself, that it is better that I live in the now, feel the suffering as it comes, grab at cheap pleasure as it passes, just for the comfort it brings. My eyes drop from the horizon to the dirt I stand on, and the feet that stand on it. I see the people around me, and again I see traitors and people of no goodwill.
Trust. Something so real, yet so ugly to the self deluded and deceptive, an attribute that makes me ugly to the passerby. So much so that I’ve come to hate its covering too. Even now, I don’t write with the usual confidence of a well thought out model of ideas, just the free flow of thoughts as they come, in emotional flux. Incoherent, raw, ugly. I always thought that even when I’d come to know someone so well, the image of Christ on them would still make me stay. To an extent, that is true, but then why now do I also think of their predatory treacherousness beneath that hopeful potential? Why the deep and bleeding paranoia?
Maybe it’s not disappointment that kills love, but fear. Maybe I’ve come to see the image of my abusers, all rising from the past to manifest in that one friend I doubt at that particular moment in time. Maybe. Maybe it’s fear indeed. The shadows don’t fade away, even under sunlight, they just stick closer to people. Darkness doesn’t leave the human heart.
For the joy that is before him, Christ endures the cross; for the cross that is before him, Satan endures our joy. Now I see more and more of the cross behind the joy of those who leave me behind, and more and more I forget the joy behind my own Golgotha. I am not that strong; I wish I was. How can we change the world when we can’t change ourselves, how can we bring unbelievers to our community, if we can’t even bring other Christians to it either? The hypocrisy of a crossless joy, the easy way out, that most people flaunt; the “if you were living right, you wouldn’t have to suffer”. It’s the weight of all that slowly crushing my heart back towards a merciless judgement of the weak and oppressed, cos why aren’t they living more right too? Didn’t I have to suffer too?
Easy to love, when sin is hidden, but love is crushing when it does battle with sin. “Love your enemies” is the furthest from our Christian community today; the fear, the paranoia, the unfocused rage. All a weak imitation of the love that consumes like fire. A love where the image of perfection burns the stain of sin from the ratchet and broken.
Maybe the best friendships don’t stay excited in naive spotless bliss, but die down, not in apathy, but in a carefully constructed peace, a walled garden so to speak.