Tuesday, March 19, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER: Donna Wallace - A Bungled Crime

A Bungled Crime
by Donna K. Wallace

“You can tell it any way you want but that's the way it is. I should of done it and I didn’t. And some part of me has never quit wishin’ I could go back. And I can’t. I didn’t know you could steal your own life. And I didn’t know that it would bring you no more benefit than about anything else you might steal. I think I done the best with it I knew how but it still wasn’t mine. It never has been. ”
Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

Have you ever wondered at seeing a person mourn the death of a loved one if the mourner is grieving the end of many wonderful memories shared or whether her tears are from the remorse of never having lived?

I have.

That mourner would not be me. I was staking claim on my life. Yessir. As a young woman I was a romantic bent on living the dream, convinced that life could be lived without a shred of regret.

How’s that for optimism?

The past was past. I couldn’t change that. But I believed that from a marked moment in time—a monument of new beginnings, I could somehow choose well enough, right enough that when I finally arrived at the end, I would lift my soul nestled in my hands up toward heaven, as a gift, and regret nothing. I made a promise to myself to do just that.

Joe was my inspiration—he hated to sleep because it seemed such a waste of good hours that could be spent discovering something new or conducting selfless acts of service. I too made good choices.

Then optimism punched me in the throat; a time or two. Maybe three.

Life got hard.

Still, I failed to understand that to regret nothing, to refuse my clumsy brokenness and need for forgiveness, was merely cowardice. Maybe even a crime. (A famous author wrote something to this affect and I stole it….)

Convinced that my theory only needed a good hard tweak—after all, I couldn’t regret something for which an opportunity was never presented—I revamped.

I reasoned, for example, that I could not lament having married as a teenager before going to college or going to one university in particular rather than another— otherwise my husband wouldn’t have introduced me Daisy Rain Martin and I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

Granted, a few big hairy regrettable mistakes were made along the way, but I was dandy: maybe the leadership guru’s were right, failures of yesterday are gems of tomorrow: sand into pearls, dirt into diamonds, shit into perfume… it’s almost criminal.

But when I reflect back, its not just missed opportunities I see. It’s wasted time, selfish thoughts, mean words, manipulations, neglected friendships … all in the name of Love.

“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets,” wrote Arthur Miller.

Leave it to the novelists to awaken truth.

I am more sure now than ever of how hard life is and how many people are carrying their own burdens of remorse. When I reach out to touch the sleeve of an older woman whose life was stolen from her or to hug a child who’s greatest sorrow is having remained silent, I discover a sacred moment filled with both passion and pain—a crime often bungled.

It is only in the night when I’m kneeling to ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done and those I’ve left undone, I figure I’m stealing from a thief.

What does it mean for you to end up with the right regrets?


1 comment:

Daisy Rain Martin said...

Ah, my girl... You writing is so rich and full. This piece is like a beautiful salad! So many flavors, distinct and delectable.

I asked my Grandma Jean once (if you've never heard of her, you need to read my book so that you can be in love with her too) if she had any regrets. She replied without pause, "Oh, NO! I have no regrets! I've loved every minute of my life. I wouldn't change a thing!" The fact that she didn't even have to think about it struck me. Also, the fact that I know some of her most infamous indiscretions (and have written about them) took my breath away. She knows her sins. She does not, and never will, commiserate over them. The ends always justified her means.

I could never claim this as my story. As most of you know, I had a very rough upbringing that no child should ever have to endure. I hear people who have come from similar circumstances (i.e. abuse or trauma) say, "I wouldn't change a thing! It made me who I am today!"

Well, I would change a whole lot of things. And I will NEVER say that I am who I am because of what happened to me. Let's be clear: I am who I am IN SPITE of what has happened to me and all that God Almighty, in His power and grace, has made me. I am who I am because of Christ--not my abuser.

The Bible says to "consider it all joy" when we endure trials. Okay. I'm down with that. But do I regret being abused? Hells, yeah. It sucked. It was not God's will. I regret it for every child that goes through that hell including myself, and if given the chance, I would NOT do it again!

But I had no control over that. I do try to live my life every day in such a way that I can at least try to keep my regrets to a minimum. I think we need to be mindful and "see beyond" today's circumstances and do what is right. Leave something to this world. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Give something to drink to those who are thirsty. Invite the stranger in. Visit the sick and imprisoned. After all, that IS the final exam.

The good news is that I can take my regrets to the Mercy Seat. That will be a good day--when every tear is wiped from our eyes.

Is that too preachy?