Tag Archives: Easter

When Bad Isn’t Wrong

01-16-13-right-and-wrong

I probably won’t ever murder anyone.

I feel really confident saying that. It’s not in my heart to hurt people, animals, or even things. In fact, I get enormous satisfaction out of helping people and making them feel good—so much so that I sometimes feel selfish about the immensely gratifying feelings I feel when performing selfless acts.

I say “probably won’t ever murder,” because maybe I’ll suffer really bad head trauma one day and lose all my memory and identity and reemerge as a murderous shithole. If that ever happens, I hope someone will remember me like I am now.

Assuming I keep my sense of self for the remainder of my life, all living things that aren’t big-ass spiders in my house should feel totally safe with me.

But, What If?

What if…

I caught someone trying to seriously harm my son?

And I had my finger on the Live or Die button?

Dead.

What if…

I had to determine the fate of masked men intent on beheading a bunch of innocent people they abducted?

Dead.

What if…

Someone was trying to hurt school children?

Commit violent rape?

Invade some family’s home?

Set off a bomb?

Shoot up a public place?

Dead.

All of them.

I have immense faith in my sense of right and wrong. That my justice scale is calibrated in a way that promotes good and condemns evil.

I believe in a God that commands: Thou shall not kill.

And still—STILL—I have enormous faith that I have the moral green light to stop those evils from happening with deadly force, if necessary.

Killing is bad. Horrible.

But it’s not always wrong.

‘…my fault my father raped me…’

“Hey Matt! Why are you writing about this shit on Easter!?”

Because a woman named Deborah wrote this to me a couple hours ago and made my heart hurt in a profound way:

“Matt, please keep writing. I just happened to come across your blog when I Googled why my husband treats me like shit. Finding your blog was a miracle and yesterday after my husband called me everything but a child of God and told me that he was not giving up porn and wanted to be roommates, I found your letters. I do not know what I am going to do or what my future looks like but the way he has treated me for the last 8 years has made me want to go sign in at the mental clinic. I am to be a schoolteacher, so that cannot happen. I went back to school because I relocated to be with him and found that I had to change careers. I have no friends at all since being here because I cannot leave the house and he chooses to not to have me with him. I am not fat or ugly. I try to talk to him but he is totally indifferent. Trying to explain how I feel, according to him, is fussing and he wants out because I try to express to him in a calm way everything you have said in your blogs but it always results in him calling me a bitch and that it is my fault my father raped me when I was a child and that I enjoyed it. He gets in my face and screams and has headbutted me, poured water over my head in public and says when we are out in grocery store / public that he wants to f every woman he sees. He would also rather masturbate to tranny porn than be with me. :(…..I do think it is time for me to leave. Thank you for showing me that there are some men out there who are kind and considerate.”

In an emotional move that proves my heart is devoid of the requisite amount of Jesus, I wished insta-death on that man as soon as I read Deborah’s note. I encouraged her to leave him in my reply, and as far as I can remember, it is the first time I have ever encouraged someone to end a marriage.

Because, fuck that guy.

Fuck. That. Guy.

If I hear you tell your wife it’s her fault her father raped her and that she’s a stupid bitch who enjoyed it and then you headbutt her, I will have zero qualms about bashing your skull with the nearest swingable object.

It’s BAD to swing dangerous objects at people’s skulls. Really bad. I don’t want to do it.

But in this case? I don’t think it’s wrong.

I hope anyone reading who prays will pray for Deborah. That she has the courage and resolve to safely remove herself from that prison.

I’ve written so much about fighting for marriage. About doing the hard thing. About sacrificing wants and needs for the greater good when the situation calls for it.

And I believe all of that.

Two years ago when my wife left and all I wanted was for our relationship to heal, I might have never typed something like that.

I guess I don’t know.

God knows I don’t want families to break, nor marriages to fall apart. But today, more than ever, I believe we should identify that line. That place where boundaries were so violated that, while we can forgive someday, we’re not going to forget.

Where we realize: It’s time to leave.

We should always try to do good. To be on the side of righteousness. And I guess today, it dawned on me in a very specific way that doing something “bad” can be righteous. It doesn’t make it good. It just makes it necessary.

The key is knowing the difference.

On a Lighter Note

In a move that showcases my breadth of “talent,” I created a short comic strip about Easter one year ago.

I read it again, and it made me laugh, so maybe some of you will like it too.

You can see that masterpiece here.

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The Resourceful Rabbit

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Remember to Remember

I don't have a pensieve. Bummer.

I don’t have a pensieve. Bummer.

I was just paging through an old photo album my mom gave me during my Thanksgiving visit.

I was little in the photos. Newborn and toddler pictures. Photos of my mom, dad and I all together, before they split when I was four years old. Photos I’ve never seen before.

Images from the early 1980s. My parents, aunts and uncles all younger than I am now.

I don’t remember any of the moments captured in the images, even seeing the irrefutable proof I was there.

I don’t think that’s particularly abnormal—not remembering much from your first few years of life. But it got my wheels turning.

Friday morning, I sat with my five-year-old son, my 20-year-old sister and my mother. Mom’s obsessed with old family videos and insists on watching them whenever we’re all together.

VHS tapes.

She popped one in.

It was Easter Sunday, just after my 20th birthday. I was home from college. My little sister was five, like her little nephew today.

I watched myself supervising her Easter egg hunt, remembering none of it.

And that’s when it dawned on me that I don’t remember the vast majority of my life.

I can’t miss the memories I don’t have. But conceptually, I found that realization a little sad.

MCI and Cheap Long-Distance Rates

At some point on that Easter morning 14 years ago, my mom hit the “Stop” button on the camcorder. An inconsequential move at the time.

But an awesome one in 2013.

Because something rad happened. After a tracking adjustment (remember VCR tracking?!?! Mom’s totally old-fashioned) I realized my mother had taped over an old football game we’d recorded.

It was the 1989 NFL playoffs. The Cleveland Browns versus the Buffalo Bills.

“Mom, can we please keep this on for a little bit? This is kind of amazing.” I said.

She obliged.

Just a couple minutes in, my favorite childhood quarterback—Bernie Kosar—hit my favorite childhood wide receiver—Webster Slaughter—with a perfect pass down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown catch and run.

I instinctively raised my hand in the air, celebrating the success of an event I’d watched 25 years ago, but don’t remember.

It’s not a big deal watching old ball games. Because of ESPN Classic, most sports fans have seen old game footage before.

But you know what IS a big deal?

Watching 25-year-old television commercials. Because they DON’T show those on ESPN Classic.

First, it was an old Ford commercial, touting the merits of the 1990 model year Ford Taurus.

Have you driven a Ford, lately?

We all laughed.

Then it was a commercial for Delta Airlines. When’s the last time you saw a commercial for an airline? Southwest is the only one advertising on TV these days, right?

Fly the friendly skies.

Then it was an old Coors Light commercial. Everyone looked awesome because it was 1989.

Coors Light! It’s the right beer now!

And finally, there was a great MCI commercial bragging about how much cheaper their long-distance phone call rates were than AT&T’s.

The phones were big and old.

We were still 18 years away from the iPhone.

Amazing.

And the entire thing made me smile. I’ve told at least three people about it.

And it struck me as a reminder.

A reminder to soak in the moments.

To remember to remember.

To take a lot of photos. A lot of video. A lot of mental snapshots.

Maybe write it down.

So you can taste it again. Feel it again. Live it again.

The world’s always spinning.

The clocks, always ticking.

Always.

Tick, tick, tick.

You and me? Right now?

We happen once in a lifetime.

Make it count.

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“Be Still and Know that I am God”

Strictly from a faith standpoint, this is my toughest test.

Strictly from a faith standpoint, this is my toughest test.

God talks to me.

Not from a burning bush.

Not from the heavens above.

Not in my dreams.

Not through any voices in my head.

Nothing weird.

But, once in a great while—as in just a few times in my life—He talks to me.

And the message I’ve been getting since Easter weekend—just hours before finding out my wife was leaving—is Psalm 46:10 from the all-time No. 1 bestseller which I’ve still never read all the way through.

Be still and know that I am God.

We Walk by Faith, and Not by Sight

At least, I’ve said that in church before. But I don’t always do it.

I have a little trouble letting go sometimes.

I was raised in the Catholic church. I don’t like to say that to too many people because I don’t want to give Catholics or Christians a bad name.

I don’t Bible thump.

I don’t judge other people’s personal choices.

And I don’t think I’m better than anyone. Ever. Quite the opposite, actually.

I don’t go to church every Sunday, even though I believe I should.

I don’t do a lot of things I believe would be best for my mind, heart and soul.

We’ve all got a little self-destructiveness in us. And I’ve been dabbling in that lately.

Drinking a lot. Even by my proud-to-be-a-social-drinker standards.

Smoking. Even though it’s a disgusting habit I kicked when I found out I was going to be a father six years ago.

And on the spiritual side of things, I’ve been angry and lazy and lax in my prayers.

I pray for my son.

I pray for my friends—particularly those who are going through tough times.

I pray for my family.

But most often these days, I pray for strength and courage. I pray for wisdom. I pray that I can be brave enough to walk the tougher path.

The one with steeper hills. The one that doesn’t have any “easy” shortcuts. The one that promises a real sense of accomplishment upon completion.

God Said it in the Bathroom

It was the Saturday before Easter.

And I was using a restroom in the home of one of my lifelong best friends. He and his wife are my son’s godparents. He is representing both my ex and I in this “amicable” dissolution which will conclude on Wednesday. My son’s godmother is an incredible example of how to do things even when they’re hard and inconvenient. She’s inspiring.

In their bathroom, they have a black-framed photo of a boat dock jutting out into a lake.

Printed on it: Be Still and Know that I am God.

And it stopped me in my tracks. And I just stared at it for a long time, thinking about its meaning. Wondering whether I really obtain the faith to cede control of my life during my most-challenging moments.

I still, in my heart and soul, believed my marriage could survive in that moment. That there was still a chance.

That very day, in fact, while my friend and I were rifling through old football cards like we were in grade school again, his wife—a good friend of my ex—looked me in the eye and said: “She’s not giving up, Matt. She sat right here last week, and I asked her: ‘Are you done?’ And she said no. She said she’s not done. There’s still hope.”

It was hard to believe. She’d grown more distant than ever. But I wanted to believe. I wanted us to make it.

Be still and know that I am God.

God Said it in my Grandmother’s Kitchen

My grandmother is ridiculously kind and sweet.

She is nice to everyone.

She loves her family.

And she loves her God.

She’s not afraid to supply chocolate bunnies, and plastic treat-filled eggs, and large food spreads. But you’re also not walking out without at least one token designed to remind you what Easter is supposed to be about for the faithful.

This year, my grandmother was handing out these little gray plastic fake stones. When they’re upside down they look real enough. Maybe three inches wide, two inches tall, and an inch thick. Faux stone finish.

There was a short Bible verse on the bottom side of these—all of them unique, no repeats—in this huge bucket of fake gray stones.

As people arrived, my grandma would hold out the container and ask us to take one.

It’s the kind of thing I normally would have thought was cute then never looked at again after that day.

But then I flipped it over.

Psalm 46:10.

Be still and know that I am God.

There were a lot of stones in that bowl. But that’s the one I grabbed.

Message received.

Are you There God? It’s me, Matt

Four hours later, after my son and I made the drive back home, I sat on one of the living room couches I no longer possess. It only took me a minute to notice.

She wasn’t wearing her wedding ring.

I’ll never forget that exact moment. It stopped me mid-sentence, and I don’t even remember what I was talking about.

She didn’t want to talk about it in front of our son. I remember dreading that walk downstairs to see her after kissing my son goodnight.

The last night we were a family.

She moved out the next day. My life has felt wrong and surreal ever since.

Most of the things that have happened between then and now have been documented here.

One month at a time. One week at a time. One day at a time.

I keep learning little things. I keep piecing more of the puzzle together. I keep learning things that make it hurt more.

I have just one priority as it pertains to my failed marriage: I want my son Owen to grow up feeling loved, safe, and being able to count on both of his parents to provide a stable, supportive foundation for him.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

I found out yesterday that my ex has officially made plans to co-habitat with Rich Guy. My son told me.

I’ve found out over the course of the past few months, one small nugget of information at a time, what a horrible human being Rich Guy is.

He’s not a man that I can, in good conscience, allow to be part of Team Raising Owen.

He’s a man with no moral code. He’s a man with no ethics. He’s a man who doesn’t value family. Not his own, nor others. He’s a man who liked sex better than his high-paying job. But it doesn’t matter. Because he’s a trust fund baby who has always been able to buy his way out of trouble.

I want to burn this motherfucker down.

But I also want to maintain dignity and discipline.

I want to destroy their bullshit, poisonous, built-on-lies relationship.

But I also want to always take the high road—to be a good person even when it’s inconvenient. Because way too much has been broken already.

I want to expose this fraudulent asshole to my ex and to everyone else. Because, in the deepest recesses of my soul, I believe he’s a bad person.

And I have a real problem with bad people.

And I have a real problem with doing what I should.

And I have a real problem with having faith when life keeps delivering sucker punches.

Be still and know that I am God.

Man, I’m trying, Lord. And I know things happen on your schedule, not mine.

But please. Pretty please. Show me the way on this one.

Because I’m trying to walk the walk.

But I’m fresh out of walking shoes.

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