Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Survivalist's Poem

I would like to quote a poem from a book I read years ago that made a huge impact in my life and instilled in me the truth that despite whatever horrible conditions one may face in life, one must hunger and desire to continue to survive no matter what and that this is glorifying to God. I read this book while on operations near Fort Pickett with Weapons Co. 3rd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment. While I was reading it one night, and after we had completed operations one day, a lieutenant came up to me and comented on what an impact the book had made in his life. It is a very powerful true story about a prisoner of war in Vietnam who forced himself to eat and survive while others died around him for 5 long years. The book is called Five Years To Freedom and he wrote this poem while in the Nam Can Region. He was suffering from dysentery and severe fungus infection. He said he dreamed it one night:

When all outside and round about,
is crushing, pushing, crowding down;
The air itself is filthy, dirty,
the outer shell corrupt, unclean.

From deep within, a voice rings through:
"Be calm, be still and carry on;
For I am untouched by all mundane,
and so forever shall I be.

For I am God's and thy shell is God's;
Together, we form thee;
Thy shell is clay and will be dust,
but I am eternal.

You and I, we travel far; through birth and life,
through mortal death and life hereafter;
What happens now, in time will pass,
and memory, like your shell itself, cannot last.

So look up ahead at times to come,
despair is not for us;
We have a world and more to see,
while this remains behind."

- James N. Rowe (He wrote this as a Lieutenant and while surviving Vietnam he was later gunned down in the Philipines in 1989 as he was trying to get information back to Washington that he and another were targets of assassins.  He was trying to penetrate the communist insurgency at the time, which was the NPA, New Peoples Army.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finding Closure

Two weeks ago a friend called me and said they were going to church in Cary, NC at Colonial Baptist Church and suggested that I ought to head on down there as well. So I did and I am so glad I did. There was a baptism of an NC State student and a great film on their local Awana program. It was so amazing to see how Awanas has grown and stuck around since the days we were in it as kids in Hong Kong.

Pastor Steven Davey would get up to preach in a kind of subdued melencholy manner as he just lost his kid brother to a brain tumor. He made the statement that you can't rush grief.

Wow! How true. I don't think everyone understands this as each person in life has their own experiences and we are all differant. I've had people tell me that I need to stop sitting around and feeling sorry for myself. Well, that may be partly true, but I do think I have been bearing a grief that is no differant than losing a loved one in death. In this case, the passing of my wife or the passing of January. I called her January because we met in January and she was born in January. That girl is gone. The one still living in her body I no longer recognize or know. Really. I guess I can see where there was a growing rift in our marraige, but we had a very close love and she rested in my bosom for years....and then one day I looked around and she was gone, but there was no one there to meet me at the hospital or at the funeral home. Like vapor ascending into the all just wisped away. In many other marraiges I hear about how there is so little love lost and how quick and painless it was for them. This was not the case for me. I really loved that girl and the rejection I faced in the face of that love, that at one time was so close, just sent me into a tailspin and into the recognition that this was death, the death of a long love that I thought would have lasted forever. I discovered, even this love must die and I must live on.

Still, that same friend who invited me to church told me something once that greatly helped me find closure. The person said they had to go to the graveside with flowers to find closure on a broken relationship that had lasted for years. When I first heard that a great peace settled into my heart, but I was not ready to do this until recently. I did go to the graveside and sometimes still do, talking to January and I sometimes find myself singing this song to a person who no longer exists and has died.

I then of course had to ask the question: How do I face the future? I think often of an old favorite movie of mine from back in the 80's that I saw during the time I was in the Marine Corps. In fact I remember watching it in the barracks at Camp Lejuene years ago with some other Marines. The Highlander. I think of the scene where he carried his dead wife up the hills to bury her and envision myself doing the same thing with my wife and burying her. We were so close in just the same ways as he was with his wife in that movie. Still he had a problem with the future. He couldn't die until he faced an ultimate battle 500 years or so later. After he watched his wife grow old and die while he remained young he realized that he could not open himself up again to another woman, and I have found myself in the same dilemma and the main reason is that you do not wish to deal with this grief again. The grief of death and so at this point, you lay your loved one to rest and you find closure there, but realize you cannot go any further than this and that you must stop and find your peace here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rejoice In The Lord!

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13

It is this truth alone that is giving me comfort during this time of legal seperatioin and approaching divorce, in 7 months, with my wife.

I've had so many days where I have felt as if an elephant was crushing my chest and I didn't know how to face another minute. Now those times come in waves, not as constant as they once were, but when they come, they come in great power and force and I find myself walking around reminding myself to breathe and asking God why I am still on this earth. People try to encourage me by telling me that I need to stick around for my sons and while that is true, I still find no comfort from the pain in this, but I do find a purpose still and a reason to bear the pain. I have found myself watching this old clip to remind myself that I have got to be here for my boys. You can find it linked here:

This may stir me to live on for my boys, but I still find myself wallowing in the mire as there is only one truth that begins to heal my heart and give me strength to get back up. There is something indeed  that helps with the pain and I will get to that.

When you first discover that the one who was once your "one and only" and "your girl", now wants to be someone elses, it really turns your world upside down. Then you begin to learn along the way how far short you fall as a man in pleasing a woman both emotionally and physically and it just sends you reeling until you begin to wonder if you ever can be to any woman. After you get a legal seperation people tell you to find another woman, and you begin to entertain that thought all the while knowing how far short you fall and how messed up you are now and so you find yourself wishing you could have a relationship but at the end of the day your impulse is to scare them away because at the very heart of it you know you cannot face that again and don't really think you could ever have a relationship again anyway. Then you have people telling you that even though your are being told to move on, you are still technically married and you must be faithfull to your unfaithful espoused wife. You struggle with all of this, but the only healing begins when you realize that you must keep yourself in the will of God and listen to Him only. He is the good shepherd and the only one who knows what is His will for your life, not other people, legal wranglings or ideas and conceptions that others may or may not have. In saying all of that, even though I know many Godly people who have gone on to other godly relationships in their legal seperation, I find great wisdom in waiting....even after I am divorced. At this point, maybe till I am dead and gone. I want to be in the center of God's will and He will guide me right, I have complete faith in Him. One thing I have learned...I am not ready and wonder if I will ever be.

So my pain is great in that respect. People and especially women don't understand how when a man is defaced and debased as a man it leaves him wondering what kind of man he is and what he has left as a man. But I don't have to find my hope in those matters anymore....

A loved one recently told me, "I wouldn't take a billion dollars to be in your ex wifes shoes right now but I would be in your shoes for free."

That's it, and that's only it. That is the only truth that comforts me. I am in the center of God's will and in the midst of a fiery trial wherein one day I will be rewarded in the heavenlies and before the throne of God in a measure I could not possibly imagine right now. It will be a day where He will wipe away all of my tears and I must keep my eyes on Him, the prize and the inheritance I will gain one day. This is what gets me up off of my back. What I am going through now is temporary and I will reap something wonderfully permanent one day as I stay at it and not become weary in well doing.

As I was driving home this evening after work I was thinking that if the devil came up to me and told me that he could take the pain away by giving me a beautiful woman that would be wonderfully compatible with me and a billion dollars in the bank along with a beautiful penthouse suite in a city, I would tell him "NO!"

Not in a million years.

Even if he offered me a Harley Davidson, I would still say "No Way"

It would be a city bound for destruction. I am content and comforted in knowing that even though I feel like I am in a dungeon of pain; I am being tried in a furnace of fire and will come forth as gold before God. So I rejoice in the Lord and find the joy of the Lord to be my strength.