dreams and visions

The “We Can Be” Anniversary

There’s been a wandering in my flow recently, perhaps more of an arterial clog of the brain. The content is still floating about, my heart still capable of visualizing, but I feel stuck behind the wheel of a compact car in the midst of a demoralizing traffic jam. So it is with a hand gripped white and another lowering the window that I lean over and attempt to shout my way through this strange, frozen malaise.

There’s a song that my boys have been reciting recently, something they’ve heard playing on the Disney station – “You can be who you wanna be!” the chorus exclaims. Such a proud, American statement it is. I think most of us grow up with a similar mantra entrenched in our minds. It’s a stupid idea, when you pause a moment to think about it. Not everybody can be smart or pretty or rich or athletic, and those are all things most of us wish we could be. A wiser statement might be, “You can improve who you are.” – the last three of those words being the most relevant. “Who. You. Are.” Because, despite all of our efforts toward developing into stronger, better people, nothing seems to change the fact that we are who we are.

We are who we are.

I am who I am.

I feel a disturbing tremor just typing that sentence. I’ve spent so much of my now nearly 38 years attempting to be something different than I am, and it’s turned me into a giant, festering knot of anxiety. It’s turned me into a person who can hardly tell the difference between the temporal and the eternal. To the detriment of my wife, it’s turned me into someone who can scarcely relate to her most of the time, because it is impossible to relate to another person when you’re so busy trying to distance yourself from the true you.

It’s been a hard year for me; that’s no secret. I suspect it’s been a harder year for her. A hard year, leading to this anniversary, the 12th. A hard year of hard conversations and me confessing to her (and now, to you) that I am ashamed of who I am. I am ashamed of my own neediness. This is a low place to find oneself, but it’s the place you must come to before your life and relationships can get better, because shame, I find, is an incredibly adversarial emotion, and it turns me and everyone who disagrees with me into an adversary. Ms. Christmas and I disagree a lot. For that reason, my shame has often times turned her into an adversary. Fortunately, for the good of me and for my children, Ms. Christmas is who she is – one of the most stubbornly loyal human beings ever fashioned by God. I suppose she, like me, sometimes wishes she were different.

Thirteen years and some odd months ago, I lay restless in bed, the echo of a voice upon my brain – the voice of Ms. Christmas. We had spoken many hours that night on the telephone, as we often did those days. I gave up trying to sleep, and picked up my guitar, strummed it and listened as a song materialized.

The chorus:
“If God in heaven brought us near in words, but not in sight,
from Him I would request the grace of one small miracle –
that I could sit with you, my friend, and talk with you awhile.
And we would see pieces of we.
May we have peace.
May we have peace with us.”

I never understood at the time, nor in the many years following up till now, why that song showed up when it did. Was it just me, being a stupid romantic over a girl I’d yet to meet in person? I now suspect I know. I believe it was a prayer – one more sincere than I’m capable of speaking on my own. I believe prayers are eternal in nature. And so I believe that this prayer-turned-music still hovers with us today.

20130706-142927.jpg Ms. Christmas and Charlie

Happy 12th Anniversary, dear Ms. Christmas. Today, I repeat the words of that prayer, that “we” – that strange, confounding combination of “me” and “you”, has peace. That we find eternal breath between us.
That We can be who He wants us to be.
I love you.

23 replies »

  1. Luke, we just need to be who God created us to be! Sometimes it is hard to find who that is in the midst of all the noise and clamor of this world telling us who we should be! I’m so glad He brought you and Carrie together -He knew what He was doing! Happy anniversary! I love you both!

  2. Just beautiful. I was particularly touched by: “I’ve spent so much of my now nearly 38 years attempting to be something different that I am, and it’s turned me into a giant, festering knot of anxiety. It’s turned me into a person who can’t hardly tell the difference between the temporal and the eternal.”

    What is it that drives us to be different than we are? Why is it so hard to see the beautiful within us? I say that because I relate so much to the above. There are struggles I’ve never mentioned on my blog… Things I am not proud of because they show how insecure I really am. Oh, there are things I like about myself, sure. My independence, my sense of adventure. But these very things can be a crutch, too… My way of dealing with my own sense of inadequacy.

    And again, the temporal and the eternal. I know this life will not last. So why do I spend so much time fighting it? Why is it so hard to see the bigger picture?

    A beautiful song you were reminded of at the end. And a beautiful tribute to your beautiful wife. I have no doubt that she loves you all the more for this post, and for the neediness which you seem to attest. We love others not because they are perfect, but because they are as imperfect as ourselves…always striving to be more.

    Happy Anniversary, friend. So happy for you—both of you. 🙂

    • Just after commenting on this post, I came across this quote. It seemed fitting.

      “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde 🙂

      • Gosh, Oscar Wilde has been coming up a lot lately. I confess, I’d read very little of his work, but I listened to an audio podcast of one of his pieces recently, and it blew my mind! Love that quote. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the amazing comment, Jess. I think the reason I see my low points as a positive is because it’s brought me to confess my insecurity. I told Ms. Christmas recently, “I’ve come to the conclusion recently, that the sum efforts of my life have centered around this: make people like me.” Being able to say that has gone a long way toward helping me grow out of it. Lord knows, it’s taken me long enough!

  3. What an important journey you are on, Luke. I think of how much freedom has come to my life when I finally grasped how much time I’ve spent trying to please other people so that ultimately I’d feel better about myself. There’s still a few strings yet to cut on that puppet, but I’m getting there (and I’ve been at work a whole lot longer than your 38 years). Isn’t it cool that there are only two persons that need to like you … you and God? God obviously thinks you’re worth it because He was very intentional in who He fashioned you to be, and He put up His own life to keep you His. Now comes the part of learning to accept all that and to laugh and hope … even when you blow it … because you WILL grow, you WILL improve, and a whole lot of people (especially your family) WILL be touched by your courage to live life so real and so free. Keep at it! And Happy, Wonderful Anniversary to you and Ms. Christmas. (BTW, love that name for Carrie.) You are a beautiful couple.

  4. So beautiful. Happy Anniversary to you and Ms. Christmas, Lucas. You have nothing to be ashamed of, we are who we are, and that’s okay. It’s taken me a long time to understand that (I wish I had only been 38 instead of the 45 that I am now), but better late than never!

  5. Lucas…Congrats to you both. Life is messy and at times anything but easy! Who we are is not stagnate, we are constantly learning, flowing/evolving into who we are….So why would anyone think (love, commitments, marriage, children, dogs etc) would be seamless or gracefully? Life is just one transition after another….

  6. Reading this post was a Deja vu’ for me. To understand why I say this, do visit my recently penned post, ‘ The Mask.”

    As you have found, we do become who we pretend to be. So we better be careful of holding such images and aspirations within.


  7. Your authenticity touches me deeply. I’m 62 and the road to owning who I am was long, but so worthwhile. I’m not a religious person and yet, my favourite quote from Shakespeare is “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. These words have great depth of meaning for me.
    There’s peace and freedom in self acceptance. And if we’re lucky, we continue to learn as long as we live. My best wishes to you and Ms Christmas. I look forward to reading more of your tales of truth.

  8. So well written – on all levels. I think it’s hard esp for men to admit the neediness. In case you didn’t see it, you might chk out my Lessons from my 30s, my top post — I mention it for the reference to your age. It was my starter post as I bid those 30s farewell. No obligation to respond in any way.

  9. I’m only catching up on this now…Strength and happiness to you for the next twelve years, Lucas. Some of us only manage to grow into ourselves later in life. Like a well matured wine or something. There’s no time limit for growth…As the cartoonist, Leunig says, “Just keep on with it, keep on going as far as you can, that’s how you get there” 😉

    (Link to the cartoon here, if you’re curious: http://www.kentparkstreetblog.com/2012/12/how-to-get-there-michael-leunig.html )

    • Love that cartoon, Alarna. We as humans sure do spend a lot of time trying to figure out what “there” is, rather than just walking, right? Sometimes I wish I could just be a person who walks and that’s it. Not me. I have to know why I’m walking.

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