Thursday, September 28, 2017

I'm Staying Alive, I'm Staying Here

Smile for the camera. 😊
I'm staying alive. I'm staying here...

At least, insofar as it is within my own power to do so (because ultimately I am in God's hand). I choose to live, and to do what I can, with what I have, for as long as it's entrusted to me.

This might not sound like much to say, but I know people are having a lot of difficulties. There's a lot of loneliness, even isolation, that people experience even (especially) in crowded and noisy places.

It's not easy to live. These are dark, turbulent, violent times.

The storms within ourselves rage out in fury against one another. All the new capacities we have to communicate with one another and share good things with one another are also new capacities we have to hurt one another, new ways of causing pain, of abusing one another, of torturing one another.

People can feel overwhelmed. Those who are already suffering in other ways can very quickly reach the point of feeling overwhelmed.

I often feel overwhelmed.

I know that this is a time of great suffering for the weak and afflicted. I beg you all, please, do not withhold your kindness and tenderness from them.

I also beg God that I might be tender, that I will not forget about the other person, that I will not forget to treat them as I would have them treat me. Of course we all fail in this, but we must struggle against it, give and receive forgiveness, move forward, let the Lord pick us up again and reconcile us as persons even if we disagree.

We must distinguish our best and most ardent convictions from the ultimately petty violent impulses each of us has to push the other person aside, to climb over them, or even to revel in the pain we inflict upon them. How easy it becomes to ruin even a good and necessary cause. How easy it is to turn it into an excuse to indulge our egocentric impulses, to defile even a great truth by using it as a weapon for our selfishness, our greed, our envy, our cruelty.

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In remembering the weak, those who are so easily overwhelmed, let us all remember that there are many different kinds of weakness and affliction, including much that we do not see in others.

People don't know how to talk about these kinds of pains. And it's hard for anyone to admit that they might break, that they feel overwhelmed.

I often feel overwhelmed. It's hard to admit that—not just to "say the words" but to actually, seriously admit it to others and to myself.

I am a weak man. This is first of all a statement of fact, not an excuse.

I am a sinner.

I am struggling with the most basic responsibilities that go with being a human person. At the end of every day I must go to God with sorrow for my sins and—placing my hope in the grace of God—with a renewed desire to live according to His will.

I have also been broken and pushed down by physical and mental illness, and I know how these illnesses are exacerbated by so many pressures that come from circumstances beyond anyone's control. I have had, in my life, a small taste of what it might feel like to become so overwhelmed, so afflicted, that one can no longer perceive the crucial difference between life and death, no longer judge what one is actually doing....

I have had enough of a taste, in the past, of this harrowing darkness in my own struggles that I can empathize with those who are overpowered by it. For this reason, I do have hope for those whose mental illness drives them to a strange and incomprehensible death by their own hand. Suicide.

I can empathize, but to anyone who is still alive I can only say, "please, stay!" It's worth it. You're worth it. This is not a cliché. This is just plain truth.

It's reality. It's why I'm still here.

Suicide is never the answer. Please, stay. God wants you here. Your life is a gift, more than you can imagine in your own awareness, especially in the darkness and pain, or the dullness, the withdrawal you feel pushed into, or whatever else it may be.

Suicide is never the answer.

I have also had enough of a "taste" of the horrible fallout that afflicts everyone in range of this human implosion. It shatters above all those who are closest to—who have the greatest love for—the one who dies in this way. But more and more people today are being scalded on some level, personally, by the concentric circles of this "spiritual radiation" poison.

Please, stay here!

Even if you think you hate everyone, this is not the kind of suffering you would ever wish upon them. It will not do anything to "close the gap," or communicate anything.  It will not help them to understand you, or care more about you, or somehow make you more "significant" in anyone's life.

You can only do that by staying alive. Ask for help. There are so many options, so many possibilities that can help you to stay alive, ways to overcome illness (or else to live with it, and even discover new things); ways to find the deeper meaning that your life really has, to find the value of your life that cannot be taken away.

Above all, there is the Mystery that holds your life. We say the word "God" in the most trivial ways, but He is here and He is shaping us for the moment when we will be ready to come before Him in the full realization of our life's unique meaning.

The day or the hour or the moment is not given to us to know. But if I am alive in this moment, then it has not yet come for me.

God is good. All the time. That means He will sustain us to live for Him, come what may. It's because of Him that I can say to you (and to myself), "Never give up!"

I know that God is giving me the strength to embrace my life. It's a stupendous gift, and I can only encourage everyone—however difficult the circumstances—to take the next breath that is given to you, and the life that has an irreplaceable value because you are a human person.

You are a gift from God to the whole universe.

At the depths of your unique self, He is there, He is giving you the gift of His image. He—the Mystery of Infinite Goodness and Beauty, beyond our comprehension but utterly worthy of our trust—makes you in His image.

You have a value that no one can take away from you. Even if you can't do anything but suffer, it is enough. It is more than enough: if you stay alive and stay with the God who gives you life, you shine brilliantly, brightly in the dark and destitute spaces of the world where no one sees the anguish and pain.

Your life is a light in the world. Just living it is an incalculable victory.

I don't know God's ways or the mystery of existence, but He is Love and He is bringing forth goodness and transforming nothingness into glory. He has already won the victory, and He plows deep into the deepest earth to fill it with His presence and destroy all evil.

Trust in Him. He is the strength that can work even through your weakness. Be His light!

I'm staying alive and I'm staying here, for as long as God in His wisdom gives to me.

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