Plotting your course through life is to be asked to be blown by winds that arise without warning, have no discernible pattern of behaviour, and then, just for good measure, blow you completely off-course.
I have neither compass nor maps. I could be anywhere and the possibility is that I am in exactly that spot, anywhere. A while ago it would have been nowhere. Then, I was certainly adrift and at the mercy of winds that had set themselves against me. I was drifting, waiting for the next current to take me where it wished. That was until a few weeks ago when something happened.
“What happened, Matthew?” This is the voice of my counsellor.
We had not spoken for over nine months; since I got better. I would reply that I didn’t know what had happened; only that something had.
“What’s changed?” her again.
I would think hard for a moment and respond with a wilting, “I don’t know.”
And that’s the truth. I have no idea what has changed. My Dad is still dead and the argument that we had has still not been resolved. I am still a supply teacher and earn a woeful amount compared to what I have in the past. My wife still worries about me. My wife still worries about Katalina. My wife still worries about all those things that she has welcomed into her life through marrying me. Katalina is still struggling and frequently answers my offers of help with denials and the name of Christ taken in vain. The daughters don’t really speak to me, preferring the understanding ear of their mother. I actually found myself walking a number of steps behind my wife, the eldest daughter and the youngest one as we strolled into town the other day. I am still not as dynamic as I once was, but I am moving. I don’t worry too much about what is around the corner because life is not a street and it doesn’t have corners (or throw-ins). I no longer hate the profession in which I am working. I am, however, wary of it in the way that a lion tamer, who has once been bitten, shies away from placing his head into the creature’s mouth.
A few months ago, I pondered the relevance of the process I was going through and wondered if I would emerge a better person, a new man, a great dad, a lovelier husband. Something may have happened and I may have got a little better in those departments but I think that the point of my burn-out was not merely so that I could reinvent myself as some third day prophet. I wanted bits of me back. I wanted some of those ingredients that used to be in my DNA. I wanted to look in the mirror and recognise the man that the boy had become. I wanted to be able to say that I had tried my best. I may have failed in whatever venture I thought I was going on, but I ended up somewhere; here.
I wanted to finish it there. I told my wife that I had completed the book I was writing and I felt satisfied…for a short time. Upon sleeping upon it, I realised that I couldn’t stop there. It was not a magical journey through hell and back, nor was it a rite of passage. Life just rolls on until it stops and it’s a sunny day outside and it is making me feel happier, but I can’t mistake temporary cheeriness for resolution. There are too many other things that I wish to consider.
Take betrayal for example.