My wife and kids went to Edmonton last weekend to eat turkey with her family. I was left by myself.
I was looking forward to the time by myself. Actually getting to bed at a decent time without wrestling the offspring into their ‘jammy-jams. Reading in the quiet solitude of my living room, sipping a beer, before retiring to the basement to watch grown men bash each others’ brains out with hockey sticks.
Ah, the good things.
But I hit a snag. The house was TOO quiet. My plan lay in shambles at my feet. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t sit still. My stack of books remained untouched. Even this little blog went un-updated.
What was going on?
It seems that I need my family’s presence, physical or metaphysical, to ground me into my routine. Or to simply get me out of bed.
Have I fallen into a rut? A hole that’s a centimetre too deep to climb out of?
It seems so. As soon as the wife and kids arrived home everything fell back into place. My routine re-established itself. Life resumed.
Am I going nuts? Becoming co-dependant? Reverting to an earlier state when I had to be told what to do and when to do it?
What was going on?
A pastor-friend once told me that I shouldn’t find my identity in anything other than myself and what I make of my life. It wasn’t original with him, but seems to be conventional wisdom among certain brands of church leaders.
While community is extolled as a moral virtue, the romance of idealized individual plotting his/her own life course is summoned as personal imperative.
I shouldn’t find my identity in my job, even if it’s in the church, he said. What happens when I lose it? I am more than my job, I was told.
I shouldn’t find my identity in my friends. Friends pass away.
I shouldn’t find my identity in my family because my Family of Origin weighs me down with too much baggage.
I shouldn’t find my identity as a parent. For that’s too oppressive to my children.
I shouldn’t find my identity as a husband. For that’s chaining my wife to MY happiness.
So where DO I find my identity?
Someone more pious than myself might say that I find my identity as a follower of Jesus. And that’s all that I need.
Perhaps. But even Jesus couldn’t imagine life without his friends. Why would he want to?
I read someone say somewhere that if someone took away his family, his church, his job, or his friends, there would be little of “him” left.
That sounds right to me.
So, maybe my rut is a happy rut. Or maybe it’s not a rut at all. Maybe it’s the interweaving details of life that pull together to make me who I am.
I am my job. I am my friendships. I am my family. I am a husband and a dad.
Take any of these away from me and I’m no longer fully me. Diminish any of these relationships and you’ve got a recipe for loneliness. Or even alienation.
That’s why I grieve when a relationship is lost. When I change churches. When I lose contact with friends. When my family goes to Edmonton. And that's okay. That's what's supposed to happen.
Maybe that’s why I like to watch grown men bash each other with hockey sticks.