Saturday, August 05, 2006

stress fractures

For the past few weeks now I've been watching a spot on our yellow bedroom wall blister, bulge, break open and develop a pattern of cracks that seem to spread out in every direction like a sunburst. If this could have been put into fast motion I suppose it would look something like a wall crack flower opening up. I resent the encroaching spot because it means I'll have to take a putty knife to the petals, breaking them all off to get to the underlying plaster, which will most probably create a massive wound on the wall and a subsequent uneven, lumpy scar of a repair patch. Then the fresh paint over the scab will cover but will not hide this spot, because the original paint is years old and has an age patina that is impossible to blend over. Every time I walk into the bedroom this developing irritation and reminder that I have something to fix is the thing my eyes immediately gravitate to and it makes me mad. I did nothing to cause this and I can do nothing to stop it. All I can do is repair the damage.

Of course, in order for the fractured area of the wall to appear, something underlying the surface had to create stress. Inordinant pressure, a shift in the foundation, something at this particular moment and time affected that one particular spot on the wall and the internal change caused an outward effect. This spot in the wall was not meant to bear the uneven load that began to be forced onto it. The only result could be breakage under too much weight and pressure. The plaster on the walls is not resilient enough to stretch and adapt.

I was reminded this past year in my own life that it takes time for stress fractures to appear and warn that the internal weight I was bearing was too heavy to endure alone. Cracks began to appear in my emotional surface and I ignored them. As ridiculous as it sounds, when the catastrophic load of my son's imprisonment was placed on our family, I began to accept it as normal and therefore did not actively seek out support structures for this area of my life. That's how I wound up on our living room couch one day unable to focus any thoughts and weeping uncontrollably. We humans are not meant to be pressed under the weight of life's struggles without others coming along under the load to help us bear it. God designed the human family to be the resilience we need to manage stress without cracking up. Most folks are reluctant to bother other people with their problems, as though they caused situations beyond their control. They work to patch over the gashes in their lives that others usually see only too clearly. God's hands on the earth are human. The basis for groups like Celebrate Recovery, AA, Prison Fellowship, the church, is just that. As the old commercial used to say, "Reach out and touch someone today". Chances are good they need it desperately and so do you.


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