Fonticulus Fides

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Don't look at me...

...because if you do, I'll let you down. More than likely, anyway. That's how it is with us human beings. We fail. We fail each other, we fail ourselves, and we fail God. Sometimes intentionally. More often -- I hope -- unintentionally.

And yet we're put in a position to rely on each other. That's how people were made. "It is not good for man to be alone," God said. So He created Eve and gave humans the means of creating a family, which would grow into a community, which would grow into the human population.

We rely on each other, because we have to. Because we're supposed to. And still we fail.

Yesterday, I experienced the feelings of sorrow, confusion and betrayal that come when somebody you trust lets you down. Today, my husband found evidence that a co-worker made an underhanded move that might very well have costed my husband the last bit of respect he gets from a generally disrespectful employer...and maybe it would have even costed my husband his job. He's still trying to decide how to deal with the situation, so please pray for him.

These situations are regretful, but they are unavoidable as long as we must rely on mere mortals. And so we must.

At work, you rely on your co-workers, your supervisors, the people who run the business to keep it financially stable, the customers who keep you in business, etc. At home, you rely on other members of your family.

In the community, you rely on your neighbors to be honest and trustworthy. You rely on the fire department or police station to come to your aid if need be. You rely on your government to keep things functioning (and maybe even to not tax you unfairly, if you are idealistic enough). You rely on health care professionals to know how to help you in sickness and injury. You rely on the electric company to provide continuing service. Go to a restaurant and you rely on the kitchen staff to prepare your food well, without deadly additives like rat poison or bacteria like e. coli.

Maybe the issue of inter-dependence is supposed to make us more reliable. The sense of responsibility, you know. We're supposed to do our best on the job because it's our "contractural" agreement with the boss, in exchange for the paycheck. We're supposed to think, I vowed to love, honor and serve my spouse, so now I have to, whether I feel like it or not. I admit, there have been times that such a thought is the only thing that has made me a decent wife to live with at times.

But that doesn't work for everybody. Witness my brother-in-law. I was at the wedding, I heard their vows. I saw the love-light shining in their eyes and the wide smiles of joy after they were pronounced "husband and wife." But she's gone now. He's settling into a new rhythm without her. Their daughter is growing more accustomed to seeing her parents one at a time instead of all of them working as a family unity. The vows have been broken, irrevocably, it seems. The words uttered a bit more than six years ago have fallen meaningless to the ground.

And what about the other people who have not made a vow, whose responsibility to us is sort of an "unwritten code of honor." My husband's co-worker is trying to pass the blame for a serious error onto him, somebody whom the boss might consider "more expendable" than the co-worker himself (who happens to be the boss' nephew). Is he afraid of Uncle's wrath? Or dishonoring the family? Or is he just a moral-less, lying cheat?

The people who let me down weren't necessarily trying to hurt me, but attempting to help themselves, and indirectly, a whole group of people -- including me. From their perspective, I'm sure their actions seem harmless. From mine, it's a betrayal of trust and a sign of disrespect toward me.

My case seems to be a cut-and-dried "forgive and forget" because I don't think there is any malice involved. My husband's is different, because the issue of self-preservation (keeping his job and not allowing the co-worker to try such tricks again) comes into play. My brother-in-law's is far more complicated -- too many people involved, too much hurt, too much potential harm to a child, the matter of breaking a marital covenent...

Regardless of how the serious nature of their misdeeds and regardless of what steps we must take in reaction to the situation, all the people who let us down deserve our mercy, our pity and our prayers. And a keen awareness that they're not the only ones who fail others. It's something we all do, to varying extents, at one time or another.

I pray that God will help me overcome these failings. I know I've let my husband down, my children, my relatives, my friends " what I have done and by what I have failed to do..." I pray for forgiveness, from God and from the one's I've hurt.

We are none of us perfect. We can only strive to become more like Christ, by taking His Body unto ourselves and letting His Spirit work within us and through us, by dying to ourselves and living for Him.

I have such a long way to go.



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