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June 5, 2013


iStock_000003364641XSmallI have been a lifelong asthmatic, since the age of three it has dominated my life in one form or another. From the age of three I learned that the disease which affected my lungs also removed any semblance of control I had over my life. I’m what you would call an incredibly independent person, I like to be self sustaining, and very much dislike having to depend on others. There are exceptions but they are few and far between, and to this day I struggle with the need to control my environment.

Letting go has never been an option.

I’m not one to psychoanalyze myself, but I’m pretty sure it stems from the feeling of helplessness with my asthma growing up. I have distinct memories of my mother and father arguing violently about my refusal to take the sulphur flavored syrup that helped me breathe better, or my refusal to take a shot in the emergency room and three nurses, an orderly and my tearful mother all sitting on me to administer the said injection. The dentist who had red hair, bad breath, and the bed side manner of Jeffery Dahmer, who drilled on a tooth while I squirmed and tried to hide from the pain. Looking back so much of my life was left in the hands of others that I did everything possible to retain what little control I could exert on my situation.

It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I finally allowed a dentist to even touch me, and then only on my terms. My fear of all things medical and my need for control have led to some epic moments I now fully regret. The time I slipped through a pool vent cover, and tore my shin down to the bone, and my walking out on a Dr. who could not take the time to share a little empathy with a patient already terrified of needles. It was my wife who reminded the good Dr, that unless he could take the time to treat me with compassion, he had little room to complain when I walked out of his ER with an open wound that could be fatal.

All of that has driven how I approach my faith, there was a time when I didn’t ask hard questions, when I simply believed. But when I saw the truth and the hypocrisy of those who claimed to know the truth, my natural and expected reaction was to take matters into my own hands. That decision as expected, had consequences…

It led me down a long and winding path where I moved from Church to Church, looking for the truth and only finding human frailty. It also forced me into a mode of Scholasticism, where knowledge became my saving grace. And once you start down that road, it’s a long way back to eden. God in his grace and wisdom has brought changes into my life that have slowly forced me to rely on him more and more, but I still have a very deep and strong desire to remain in control.  It colors my choices, it’s colors my life, and paints everything with the brush of skepticism.

As Michelle and I have moved from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, we have been forced to let go of more and more, and trust, not just God. But also those around us, we have learned to put our hearts out on the line, to open what before that which was tightly held in private. It has changed us, and will continue to do so.

I haven’t fully let go yet, I don’t know if I ever can, but every day I learn a little bit more about trust, and every day I let go of my control just a little more. Maybe I’ll have all worked out before I die, but most likely, I’ll go to my grave on my terms, in a red casket with ghost flames!

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