Monday, September 6, 2010

It All Started With A Lie

I was awakened in the wee hours by a ringing cell phone.  With death approaching on two fronts these days, I can't ignore a phone call.  Bleary eyed and not yet fully awake, I had trouble first finding the phone and then getting it open to answer it.  By the time I did, the caller had hung up.  I pulled up the number, which was unfamiliar, and returned the call.  I got an answering machine.  I left a message indicating that I was returning the call and closed the phone.  Seconds later my phone rang again.

"Mike, this is Alan," a voice said in a jocular tone.  My brother got _______ __ and took a shotgun and blew his head off!  Me and Josh and Jan are headed out to Salt Lake.  We're going to find some shit and get wasted."  That was a lie.

Not that Alan wasn't telling the truth, at least in his words.  The lie was in his tone and attitude.  Alan was grief stricken but had no clue how to show it to Mike.  Their lives have been devil-may-care of late and Alan knows no other way to be, with Mike.  You see, I am Myke, not Mike, but Alan doesn't know this, yet.  He wants to know if I want to come along?  When I ask who he is, he sounds incredulous.  He can't imagine that Mike doesn't know who's talking.  I have to explain that I am not Mike.  Still unbelieving Alan seeks clarification, "You're not Mike Walsh?"

"No I am not."  Alan hangs up without apology.  Now, I know Josh Walsh and I happen to know he has a brother named Mike.  It isn't hard to put together that Alan is borrowing Josh's phone and has made a simple error in the directory, having chosen to dial the wrong Mike.

Unsettled and not quite ready to go back to bed I get on line.  On face book I find a message from Josh.  
Lost a friend I've taken Alan and Randy out to the desert
No mention is made of Jan.  Still, the message confirms the death of Alan's brother.  I saw Josh and Jan just a week and a half ago.  We had a great visit.  They seemed so happy together.  Josh's career is progressing nicely and his future seems bright.  Now I am not naive enough to think that Josh is out of the woods.  I see the photos on his Facebook page and it's pretty easy to see that his ways haven't changed all that much.  He still likes to party and get rowdy now and then.   Josh has made a career out of helping troubled youth.  Most are drying out from serious drug abuse.  He is compassionate and effective and a hypocrite.  On his off time, he's doing the same thing he's helping them overcome.  He assuages his conscience in that regard by avoiding the topic in his work.  His job, after all, is only to hold them accountable.  It has little to do with the details which are, under the circumstances of place, irrelevant.  Jan works with him.

Now, there is a possibility that Josh and Jan are going along to be Alan's designated drivers; to administer safely, Alan's means of escape.  I doubt it.  They've all lost a friend and they're headed out where they won't get caught and plan to deal with their overwhelming grief in the only way they know how.  At once, this behavior is going to soothe, for a moment, their sorrow, while allowing them to express their defiance.  They will curse the world and curse God and unavoidably exacerbate their common lot.

I have their number.  I thought of calling back.  Could I talk some sense into them?  I longed to do it but felt constrained by the strength of my experience.  Already they're in open rebellion.  All I will do, in an attempt to intervene, is fan the conflagration that is already raging out of control.  So I wait.  And I pray.  "Keep them safe for a saner moment when we can talk this over; please, dear Father?"  "Keep them safe."

I lie awake for hours wondering what has damaged these precious souls to the extent that they would react in such a destructive, inappropriate manner.  Alan's voice haunts me.  He sounded so much like he didn't care.  Like he'd given up on caring.  Probably didn't dare care.  Yet his actions are screaming the torture he's so desperately trying to hide.  They will get wasted.  What a waste.  And then they'll laugh and rage and curse and finally weep in exhaustion for their lost one, knowing they are just as lost as he.  They'll battle with confusion, anger, envy, blame, guilt and they'll come home weary, numb and empty.

All of this behavior is a clear manifestation of rebellion.  I can't help but wonder from what?  I have a notion that we never, naturally rebel from goodness.  We rebel as a coping mechanism in the presence of manipulation.  Someone, somewhere applied conditions to these young lives.  Conditions under which they were kept in servitude or bondage.  It all started with a lie.  The first lie came from the person applying the conditions.  "You are not acceptable unless you....."  "You don't deserve my love or approbation if you don't...."  You can fill in the blanks.  I guarantee that these are the kinds of messages that so repulsed, disillusioned, dismayed these young adults, when the were children, that they began their rebellious bitter course.  Now, you may say it can't be that manipulation is that universal a catalyst.  You might suggest that people rebel against God all the time and He is most certainly no manipulator.  And you'd be right on both counts.  The trouble is that in between God and man are people.  Children especially, cannot avoid projecting human attributes onto God.  If a child lives with manipulative adults he will, by default, surmise that God too, is a manipulator.  How do I know?  Because that was the view I took of God based on the evidence I was immersed in.  How do I know?   Because my number was on Josh's cell phone.

Josh and I are friends, not because we have a single thing in common.  We are friends because there are NO conditions in our friendship.  He was, is and will be, completely acceptable to me, just the way he is.   He's quite unfamiliar with this phenomena and is unavoidably attracted to it.  He manipulates and is manipulated by virtually all in his circle of acquaintances.  His parents manipulate him.  Law enforcement manipulates him.  His friends manipulate him.  So do his enemies.  And he manipulates them in return.

He hangs around me because for quite possibly the first time in his life, he's found someone who doesn't manipulate him.  It's not that I'm not tempted.  I almost called back, remember.  It's just that I've finally got it through my own thick skull that I can't change Josh or anyone else for that matter.  Since I can't change him, I might as well love him.  The only way I can love him is just the way he is.  Otherwise I'm loving the figment of my imagination which is ridiculous.

The rebellious already know that their course of action is a downward slide to destruction.  I don't need to point that out.  They do it because the alternative, a life of conditions and rejection is even more unthinkable.

I believe that their only hope is in the discovery that there are indeed those, who love them for who they are.  I want to be one who will show them that kind of love.  Not so they'll love me back, but so they might begin to superimpose that truth over their previously held false notions about the nature of God.

The lie is that their value is based on conditions.  The truth is their value is intrinsic and has nothing to do with their performance according to anyone's standards.  Accepting that truth, they'll find no further need to rebel or mistrust and will begin to correct their own course while growing in the warm, sustaining environment of love.  This is not rocket science folks.  Lehi said, "Wo be unto the liar for he shall be trust down to hell."  It is so because the purpose of the lie is to manipulate and the end result of manipulation is rebellion and a misbegotten concept of God.

It all started with a lie.

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