Some New Year’s Resolutions

by Bernard Brandt

It is, perhaps, odd that I should be considering January 1st as a New Year. My odd little church, which is in apostolic succession to and with the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch, that place where Christians were first called Christians, celebrates her New Year on September 1st. It might have something to do, though, with the fact that my late wife, Beth, died (and rather horribly, too) just two weeks before that New Year.

I’m afraid that I’ve been trying to pick up the pieces ever since. It has only been recently that things have gotten back together enough so that I can think of trying to do better. One thing that has hampered me has been that the pain was so great that I had to self medicate: beer, wine, that sort of thing. That led to its own problems. Another thing that has hampered me has been that my loss, and the loss of control which my self-medication has at times occasioned, has led to some rather serious issues of loss and rage.

The rage usually burns forth, like a brush fire driven by a strong wind, when some well meaning, er, person tells me, “I know just how you feel.” No, as a matter of fact, most of you DON’T know how I feel. And that is just as well. I would not wish that particular version of Hell on my worst enemy. But please, unless you’ve lost not just one spouse, but two, and those after a long period when you are the primary or sole care taker, in which you see the vibrant, wise, loving spouse slowly but surely stripped of every vestige of health, dignity, or even intelligence, then you do not have the slightest clucking fue as to how I feel.

That rage also burns when similar well-meaning individuals attempt to tell me how I SHOULD feel, or what I SHOULD do. Again, if you have no clue as to who I am, or what I am suffering, then how can you give advice that will in any way help me? Please don’t.

But this rage has driven me nearer to being a demon, or a fallen spirit, than anything else that has ever happened to me. It is in the process of killing me, both spiritually, intellectually, and even physically. Worse, it has flashed out to injure some of my closest of friends. It tears me inside to realize that, to admit that, and to know the sadness that I have caused others as a result. I would have given anything to have avoided that.

So, for those whom I have hurt by my rage: please forgive me. And please, please, please, now that you know, and if you are my friend, do not do the things that trigger that rage. And for my part, I’ll do all I can to keep that rage from hurting you again.

As a repentant demon, I have also made some resolutions to do better this year, but I have found that if you speak of your dream, it seldom occurs. Please know, though, that in the course of this year, I will be writing of my attempts, at prayer, fasting, almsgiving, study, and work. And if they may be of any help to others, or even myself, I will be happy.

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