Three times now I’ve developed coping mechanisms to deal with all this, and three times I’ve allowed myself to be swallowed up in them. The first one could have easily cost me my marriage, the second one; all self-respect. The third one nearly cost me my job and with it my mind.
What starts out as a justifiable way to deal with things that can’t be made sense of, quickly turns into a world view that commands your reason and twists your perspective. In each instance, I find myself in places and situations that in a moment of lucidity are shocking even to myself. “How did it come to this”? I ask myself. Each time I wander the Good Shepherd gently nudges me back into the fold. Other times He lets me run into the fence, still other times, He waits till the wolves have their teeth in my flesh before he picks me up, saving me from certain destruction. I guess it’s true; He wants us to live life abundantly, why else would I be, in each instance of failure – restored to a level that I could never have imagined?
Through all of this, my wife has patiently endured.
Steinbeck described a man’s life in his novel The Grapes of Wrath as a series of “jerks”. He said that:
“A baby’s born, a man dies, and that’s a jerk. He gets a farm and looses his farm, and that’s a jerk. For a woman, its all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on.”
For my wife, this appears to be a truth although it makes it no easier for her, just different. Perhaps that’s why I can count three and to her, it’s all just one. Those jerks are the little epiphanies that I experience each time my coping mechanism takes control of my life, silently and predictably turning me into a jerk.
As a man, my natural ability to be a jerk has many thousands of years underpinning it. Adam had a sweet wife and the first time he felt the heat from a bad decision; his first action was to throw her under the bus. “Jerk”. King David had the world at his fingertips; even had God bragging about what a great guy he was yet he had this coping mechanism that he developed which eventually moved him not only into the category of voyeur, but adulterer and later that of murderer. “Jerk”. More recently a rather famous couple that seemed to be the very embodiment of balance and harmony in this life had their world rocked by the admission of an affair on his part. This poor woman was not only a marvelous mother, she’d once been crowned “Miss America”! Jerk.
Now if I can only defy myself and learn to cope with the elephant in the same manner as a river copes with rocks; my life of and as a series of jerks will be vastly improved.