Friday, August 12, 2005


The Junkyard Dog's Older Brother

Engineers call it "cut and fill." When building highways you have to go over hills and across valleys; if you cut down the hills and throw them into the valleys your road is straighter, nearly level, and much more efficient.

Feeling good is dangerous. Peaks of emotion never last, and the ending is painful. Better not to feel it at all. I'm not sure exactly how I did it, but long ago I learned to chop the tops off.

I'm good at the cutting. Filling was a different matter. The result was a low average, and something that looked a lot like depression.

Well, no matter. Everyone's depressed. Live with it.

That answer's not good enough for God. He moves in and starts changing things. He designed human beings to live, not just sort of take the straightest line between two points and call it a life.

By the time I met him, I'd automated the emotional control process. It took him a while to get my attention; I don't like upheaval. I have a very strong tendency to seek the center and keep my eyes focused on survival.

I know God invites me to live in a wider land. I've seen some of it, and I want to be there. I take off running, doing what God wants most by simply following him, and then I run out of chain like a dog on a run. Bam. I get hauled off my feet and slide back into familiar grey walls of muffled confinement.

The linear, rational way, no ups downs or side-to-side. Laws. The way it's supposed to be. I am just plain sick of it, literally. Sick to death, and powerless. Psychologic cancer that eats life away implacably, and no one understands. The prescription is work, service, staying busy in a world that looks way too much like the one God invited me to leave behind.

I left it behind, and then it caught up. I'd try to leave my little grey hole, walk a few steps, and then this ravening dog would come out, grab my leg and haul me back. After enough of these events I asked God for help, and he muzzled the Junkyard Dog as only he could do. I thought I was set.

It turns out that Junky has an older brother, from whom he learned all of his tricks. The older brother is the archetype rigid controller, not allowing anything to threaten survival. It doesn't know how to quit, how to change its charter, when the survival it is guaranteeing turns into living death.

Naturally, I ran. I've run into the Older Brother a few other times, when the Junkyard Dog wasn't strong enough. Junky runs out, grabs a leg and hauls back. If I manage to escape that, the Older Brother just cuts me off at the knees. Inescapable. I've learned very well to avoid his attention, but moments of exuberance get the better of me and result in being felled like a tall tree. Wham.

It's no surprise to me, but rather embarrassing. "I'm sorry, God, I can't accept this blessing because it excites this old part of me that won't allow emotional excursions. Everything must be kept narrow and level to avoid problems."

You might think that God would become angry, and just smash the walls. That's the human way. God's way is to bring life back to the desert, release the captive, and then as returning life expands the horizons, help the captive remain free.

That's always the trick in any revolution. Initial freedom is easy to get. You can surprise the rulers and get away with it, until they get their superior forces organized and then you're dead. Remaining free is impossible unless there's some powerful help.

And who looks for help when it comes clothed in more rules? No thanks. I'll do it myself. Good idea, but that doesn't work either. To make a revolution stick you have to keep after it.

Want to defeat Junky's older brother? "Please don't quit. I want you to keep going." I see impossibility. God sees the way to life.

The older brother is good at what he does. God is better at what he does, no matter how impossible it looks to anyone else. I'm not good at anything other than looking for places to hide, and I've been doing that a lot lately. Internal conflict is hard to live with.

But God is gentle, kind, and patient. He knows I can't do this. He knows I have no idea even how to go about anything. So, he teaches me. All I have to do is hold on. Can we really defeat the Older Brother? God has made his promise to make me whole. The older brother is part of that. I just wish I could go to sleep and have all done overnight.

Excuse me, please. It's time to go distract myself. I know there's another storm coming; the older brother won't give up without a fight. Even a good change is still change.

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