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May 28 • Funeral Fun

Day 689


As I write this, I'm watching the funeral of a friend and neighbor as it is streamed live on my TV. I had intended to attend in person, but health-related restrictions have me relegated to grieving from my living room.


He was a good writer, a man of great faith, and a humble servant to anyone who crossed his path and needed help. In the service right now, they are reading from his blog. The speaker is talking about the legacy this man has left to his children and grandchildren by committing so many words and thoughts to print, especially those of the past year as he struggled and lived out loud through — as he said — the adventures of his pancreatic cancer.


Now, a singer is singing a song. The first line is,

"Shame is a Prison."

The lyrics are, of course, about the grace that frees us from shame, and the gospel that the recently departed loved sharing with others.


It would seem that that man was the man that this man always wanted to be, and thought he was. That man did the things that I thought I would someday do to leave the world a better place because I passed through.


And here I sit writing in my journal — my blog — about sexual addiction. My addict is now waving the shame flag in my face. I can't stop thinking about my fall from grace — or into grace — and comparing my life to my friend's. I'm contrasting my tainted legacy to his celebrated legacy. I'm having a hard time imagining so many people wanting to attend my service that it has to be streamed, and then having everyone share my legacy as a broken man and celebrated sex addict.


Half of the above is legit, and half is shame-induced BS. Half of it is pulling me down, and half is encouraging me to finish well. Half of it is observing all the good things about a person because that's what we do at funerals, and the other half is being afraid that I've fucked-up my chance at being remembered as a saint and changer of lives.


Suddenly I'm more worried about the people that will judge me for using the 'F' word without regard to whatever I may have left to say about living in recovery. I never used that word before my acting out, and the further I get into recovery, the further away I get from using it again. However, it still is a reminder of where I've been, and for the first time in my life, it is just a word, and my eternal destination no longer hinges on the number of letters I use in expressions or even expletives.


The funeral is wrapping up now with the preacher leading in prayer.


The grief I'm feeling, about my friend and about my loss of standing, is real. However, it is also balanced in knowing that he is now pain-free in his restored existence, and that God has prepared a path for my restoration through recovery until that day when I am also pain-free.


I just noticed that the closing song at the funeral is about being pain-free. Indeed.


In the meantime, I no longer spend most of my days lying about being better than I am, so in many ways, I have a chance at a double-healing, one in this world and one in the next. I no longer want to be like my friend, unless my Higher Power calls me to that and creates the path. Neither do I want to be what I've been, so I will continue the struggle to take what I've been given and try to recover through what I've done with it.


I don't know whether my friend had any life experiences that would remotely compare to my addiction and recovery. With what I've learned, I would be surprised at anyone not having something they have to overcome in order to walk on hallowed ground. My path is better for having met that man and known him for even a short time. Whether he had any darkness in his life or not, he has left his mark as a man who gave his will over to God. I would be grateful if anyone is ever able to say that about me.


Your journey is over, my friend, yet its influence continues in those of us who have been touched by your gentle wisdom and loving smile, and who are a little better today because we knew you. Rest well, Chuck.


–JR

 

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