I have a secret fear that one day I will snap and totally abandon my family.
(Honey, if you are reading this - and you better be reading this - calm down, it's just a deep and irrational fear, I heart you and am not going anywhere. Hopefully my vow to stick around is good news.)
I know that I would rather die than leave my family. I know that I would rather be tortured Slumdog style than leave my family. I would rather impale my eye with a smoldering pretzel rod... you get the point. So, now that it's clear that I'm not looking to get outta dodge, and also that I have violent and disturbing thoughts on occasion, I am want to be open and honest about this fear.
I have known plenty of people who have done heinous and unexpected things to the people they love. I have faced my share of abuses at the hands (and mouths) of people who have claimed to love me. I have even been on the wicked and guilty end of sin situations as well... and I have hurt those I have truly loved. So, while I know I would never leave my family, I also know that we are all capable of terrible wrongdoing and, sadly, I have proved time and again that I am not the exception to this rule.
Still, I would not leave my family. Well, at least not for long. I am currently on an airplane right now headed to Portland, Oregon to be there with and for a dear friend who is about to welcome her second child, but her first baby girl, into the world. As I was leaving my baby girl, London informed me that she could not be happy or a good girl with me away, or "if you way" as she put it.
On my recent weekend trip to Washington DC for the Move:DC event, my friend Sam said something interesting to me, something along the lines of me being really good at being away. I know that she meant that I was able to leave my family and actually enjoy myself without being constantly worried about the kids or feeling guilty. I took it as a compliment, because it is a skill I am actually intentional about trying to cultivate: being engaged when I am with my kids, so I can be guilt-free and relaxed when I am apart from them. (Especially because these times are few and far between.)
Still, positive as I believe the remark was meant to be... it stirred in me a great reminder of this fear. What if I am good at being away because I am a leaver? What if I am closer to snapping and leaving than I think? What if wanderlust finally gets the better of me? What if I am the worst? What if the threat of a Slumdog beatdown can't even deter me?
This is when I need somebody to slap me really hard, or throw a drink in my face. This is when I need more Spanish soap opera stars in my life, ya know, someone who will get really irate and just shove me down a staircase.
I need a reminder that, yes, while better people have done worse, I am not going to leave my family. I think it is because I am so aware that I am capable of horrific crimes, like impaling someone's eye with a pretzel, that I am intentional in guarding my marriage and family life from those temptations. I think because I know that I could be a leaver, I have to cling to the grace of God. And only by His grace, and all the might and empowerment He stuffs into my soul, am I able to actively and purposefully become a stayer.
Except when my friend has a baby.
Then I go, but just for a bit. And knowing that my little girl can't be good or happy without me there is a great reminder to me about the effects of divorce on kids. I can clearly remember what it was like to feel like I lost the strength and know how to be happy, or a good girl, because somebody left.
I don't care how much we love our spouses or our kids or our lives... sometimes there comes a time when our wanderlust (or a different lust entirely) will call to us and promise something to us that will never be delivered. In those moments, I want to have this healthy fear of losing everything right in front of me...
This fearful knowledge that if I left, my babies would feel like they lost some of their own worth, some ability to muster the strength to be good girls and boys, and that they just couldn't be so happy "ifout me." And, perhaps, someone would also give me a big, fat shove down a winding staircase just in time to knock me back into reality.
I know that horrible things happen, and that every situation is different, and I am not judging any of those scenarios... I am simply saying that Sam was right. I am pretty good at being away, I catch up on reading, I listen to excellent jams, I chat with strangers and drink my coffee slowly and while it is still hot.
I savor each of these little gift-moments. And I do it (for the most part) without feeling guilty. I think that is because I know that I am not really leaving, I know that I am always fighting against any pull or lie that tells me to give up on my life. I know that I am choosing to be a stayer, and even if I am short of soap stars who will do it for me... By the supernatural grace of God, I believe I will gladly put a pretzel to the eye before I let myself be a leaver.