Monday, December 28, 2009

A Smack in the Head (by Billy Coffey)

I blame it on my New Year’s resolution. That’s what was on my mind and what had abducted my focus.

I was on the couch trying to decide what I should spend the next 365 days trying to improve about myself. Since I’ve always been one convinced that nothing but a lofty goal is worth the effort, I decided to aim high. I was going to eliminate everything in my life that brought me pain, no matter what sort of pain that may be. Seemed good on the surface, but the logistics were problematic. Pretty much everything in my life had the potential to bring me pain. Even the good things.

The logistics were what I was pondering as I walked from the living room into the dining room and past my son, who reached out and gave me a hug that I barely felt. And I was still pondering them when I rummaged through the refrigerator for the pitcher of sweet tea and poured a glass of milk instead. Also when my daughter asked me (for the third time, she said) if she could play her video game for a bit.

Wasn’t paying attention at all. Because this Thing, this resolution, had carried me away from reality to a place where my body could not follow.

It’s a precarious position to be in, having to straddle two worlds. And impossible to do for very long without losing something along the way. Which is why my son asked me a question I did not hear, my daughter tried three times unsuccessfully to gain my interest, and I had a cup of 2 percent rather than sweet tea.

I would have probably remained in that state of Here But Not Really for a while longer if the cabinet door hadn’t have been left open. Because just as I took a sip of milk and wondered why it was not tea, I turned and smacked headlong into it. That was when my trip to Neverland came to a sudden and complete stop.

When I came back to reality.

I rubbed my forehead and heard the unmistakable giggle of a little girl from the other room. Physical humor is a art form, and one I unknowingly practice at times. It keeps both me bruised and my family entertained.

I stood in the kitchen and tried to retrace my steps, all to no avail. I couldn’t remember getting off the couch, couldn’t remember the walk into the kitchen, couldn’t remember anything. One moment I was alone in the living room, and the next a cabinet door was assaulting me.

Strange, huh?

But to be honest, this sort of thing happens to me all the time. Happens to us all, too. As much as we try to stay anchored to reality, we all have the occasion to wander in our thoughts. Things that need to be done, things we fear being done to us. Where we need to go, what might come next. The cares of this world are many, but they all serve one common goal—to rob us of the joy that is Here and Now.

I understood then that I could probably make any resolution in the world and be better off than making that one.

All the proof I needed to confirm that could be found in my absent-minded stroll from the living room to the kitchen. A little love from my son wasn’t enough to snap me out of my thoughtlessness. Neither was the responsibility of being a parent. Nor even the quench of my thirst. No, the only thing that reminded me of where I was and what I needed to be doing…was pain.

Which I suppose is why God allows things that will give me a smack in the head from time to time. He knows that’s just the thing that will keep my head where it needs to be. Sometimes it’s an unanswered prayer, even an outright No. Or a delayed promise. Or even a senseless tragedy.

Those are the things that tend to separate me from Him. Until I bonked my head on that cabinet, I thought pain was my enemy. Something I should resolve to remove completely from my life. I know better now.

I’m thinking that instead of resolving to hurt less, maybe I should resolve to hurt more. Because the only sure way to get to the yonder and later is to be in the here and now.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.


Barefoot from Heaven said...

Hi there, start reading Bill's post and ended up to read yours also. Man you made me laugh out loud big time for hitting your head. So sorry about that one. But as soon as I started to read your story I knew were it was heading. Strange uh? I never ever understand my life when it come's to questions like this I need others to say so and then I go...Oh yes of cours I knew that one...deep down I did but it just wouldn't come up. Now reading yours I read...Oh yea of cours..
So yes I also do believe this is God's way to let you know hear and see that what you've got is here in front of you right now. You're in the middle of it and it shows itself in love and pain for us to understand.

Thank you so very much for sharing your story, you enlightend my day wich just started 20 min. ago...
Sweet Love send from my heart to yours. Dagmar

shrinkthecamel said...

Your zombie-wanderings sounds like me on my commute. The other day I actually "woke up" on the drive home from work, and didn't even recognize where I was! Totally in la-la land thinking about work, home, writing, etc etc. I eventually figured out where I was, but am now worried about Stage 1 Alzeheimers.

The pain thing is true - Usually it becomes the wake-up call that keeps us grounded in the reality of our relationships, and also generates new growth. Denial and avoidance are absolutely two of the biggest detractors from spiritual growth.

Joanne Sher said...

I’m thinking that instead of resolving to hurt less, maybe I should resolve to hurt more. Because the only sure way to get to the yonder and later is to be in the here and now.

Sooo true. A life of hearts and flowers will never bring you closer to God.

I found myself nodding profusely as I read this. So much truth. As usual.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Pain is indeed a wake-up call and a warning. I take it very seriously.

You've also given me the great idea to open certain cabinet doors and leave the house. Just sayin'.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Dealing with emotional pain is one of the hardest things to do in my opinion. It colors how we deal (or don't deal) with everything in life! I think we spend a lot of time asking God to change our situations, rather than asking Him to teach us how to deal with our situations.

Maureen said...

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." ~ Kahlil Gibran

Tina said...

2009 brought me pain that was at times almost unbearable ... my shoulders literally slumped and knees buckled at the weight of it all. I went through the motions of life for days at a time in a bit of a stupor much like the trek to the kitchen but through it all I managed to keep my eyes on Jesus and eventually the pain gave way to a perfect peace that only those who truly know the Savior can experience, the peace has even moved over for joy. As I look back I think the pain was a tool that God used to change me, mold me ... I like who I am so much more than who I was ... I certainly don't relish the idea of enduring anything like that again but I know that regardless if I keep my eyes on Christ the pain will pass and something even more glorious will come.

JML said...

It's funny, pain emotional or even physical is the result of something else. If it's emotional, it indicates what you have before you or rather, what your focus happens to be. Physical pain obviously comes from something not being right in your body... that's one reason why pain killers aren't always the best, because they don't get to the root. I'd say the same applies to emotional pain as well. You sir, are a wonderful writer!!

Bridget Chumbley said...

Those days when I walk around in a fog... I pray that the 'jolt' that brings me back to reality isn't quite that painful!

It does sometimes take a smack in the head to wake us up... the metaphorical kind hurt a lot less... just sayin. :)

Bonnie Gray said...

Here, you are, Billy - preachin' it loud and clear! It's not prosperity Gospel -- *thankfully* -- otherwise, finding pain every so often would be just simply depressing.

As for the wanderings, oh my -- a common affliction for sure...

Caroline said...

Parts of this was hard to read but a necessity and a reality that often we need to deal with. Tina I appreciate what you wrote, 2009 has been a painful one for me too, I still need to get to where you are now, but you encouraged me. I am learning to keep my eyes on Jesus.

L.T. Elliot said...

I never thought of pain like this before but I can see it's usefulness. Great post, Billy!

Doug Spurling said...

Because the only sure way to get to the yonder and later is to be in the here and now.

Excellent. Been there still have the bump to prove it.

Helen said...

Billy, I get your point, but I still have to say, I do not like pain...

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

I agree with Helen...pain is only "good" in hindsight. Very, very long hindsight.

You seem to handle the assaults of kitchen cabinetry better than I do, daughter would be practicing her duck-and-cover, not giggling at me. ;) Maybe I could learn a thing or two about letting pain keep me in the present.

Chris Sullivan said...

He is good