CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
Uncle Johnny, my mother’s youngest brother, was a marine in WWII. When the war was over, he returned to the home town of Francisco, IN, to start a hardware and lumber business. He built it himself, from the ground up, the lumber shed and the store building, with his own hands. The store building shared a wall with the general store of Uncle Ted, my mother’s oldest brother. Indeed, there was even a door between the two, so that if one of them had to be gone for a while, the other one could cover for him.
Although he was 25 and I was only 10 then, Uncle Johnny was my best friend. We did a lot of things together. He was my Best Man. One day, he complained about how Uncle Ted, who was 40 and had been in business a long time, kept telling him how to build and run his business. “He says he wants to help me avoid the mistakes he made, but I want to make my own mistakes.”
When our older daughter, Mary Beth, was two, she stomped her little foot, in a little red sneaker, and said, “When can I make my own decissons.” She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she wanted to make her own.
Most of us want to make our own mistakes, in our own way, we want to make our own “decissons,” which is why we can’t “fix” other people. They want to make their own mistakes.
That same little girl is grown up now. For a long time, she was an excellent crafter, but she doesn’t do crafts anymore. “I realized,” she says, “that my approach to the world was to fix it. I tried to repair other people, tried to take their bits and scraps and put them together into a whole that was pretty and useful. Since I could not do that, I took the scraps and bits and pieces of things and crafted them together into a whole that was pretty and useful. But now I know that we can’t put other people together. I have given up trying to fix the world, so I don’t need to do it with crafts, either.”
The problem is: when you realize you can’t repair other people, when you can’t fix the world, what do you do then?
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