The Rules

A man told me recently that his goal this year is to be authentic and reach a complete congruence between who is he and who he wants to be.  He had a problem he was dealing with in his life that he couldn’t manage well because it didn’t match up to his ideal image.

I leaned over and picked up a rock from the dirt below our feet.  The edges were sharp and dirty with clay.  I had a small rock collection back at the house from various travels and an image popped in my head of one rock I’d found at the bottom of a creek bed.  It was round, flat, and smooth.  It felt like soft fabric in the palm of your hand.  It was comforting to hold.  But now i help the sharp, ragged rock between us.

“God made the rough stones,” I said, “and he also made the perfect smooth ones.”

This whole notion of who we should be keeps me up in the night lately.  So many people live under the weight of who they should be according to the rules society has set.  But where is the truth in all of that?

I see men dying inside, because they are more comfortable living within the rules than they are living.

We follow the rules that someone else sets, with disregard to the heart of things.  the rules exist to set boundaries, yes, but if you think a bit deeper into the critical things that drive who you are – like love, heart, and soul — the engine of you, there may be incongruity at times with all the rules in the world around you.

A friend sent me a photo yesterday of his 3 year old son. My friend, a devout believer in God and “rules” did something completely out of character and met a woman,  just one night, in a restaurant.  One thing led to another and soon he received a call that the woman, a married mother of 4 that he hardly knew, was pregnant.  The friend came to our home, sat with us, cried.  What would he do?  “The rules” immediately took over his brain. The rules of society.  The rules that say “this is a mistake.”

He was overcome with regret because the night was indeed, a mistake. He wanted her to abort.  He had endless talks with her.  He met her husband, apologized for his role in the new complexity of their lives.  Our friend decided he’d renounce his role  and sign papers that would give him no parental rights.  The story is more complex than that, because as you know now from the photo things changed.  But what followed in the next 2 years was a decision making process based on rules.

People think that when the rules are violated, that you can put things back together neatly and fit back into the “rules”  again.  But what if the rules were just smoke and mirrors all along?  What if you lived in an anything is possible world, where planning was not the most important thing, but love was?

Our friend’s commitment to a pure life was so strong, that he wanted to turn away from the love he had for this new child, and forget that the child existed.  But which is more important – commitment, or love?  If you said commitment – commitment to what?  Is not the commitment to the new thing, as important as the commitment to the old?

There are many examples of this, and not just with children.  This isn’t about mistakes, it’s about seeing the things that come into our lives as gifts, seeing love for love.  Being cautious to protect what truly matters.  As a child who was a “mistake” and nearly aborted, I think I can step up and say confidently here that “Sometimes  plan B is better than plan A.”

Should I have been non existent because my father (who was married at the time with 2 young boys) and mother (married to a different man)  had a relationship that resulted in me?

I’m plan B.

Not plan A.

I don’t think that my father ever made that decision to love me, and love freely.  Instead, he lived under the inner turmoil of the rules, and the pressure of his mistake.  He ended his life, and then life went on.

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