Last evening I discovered a series on Acorn called The Dry.  It is about an alcoholic woman who tries to stay sober in Dublin, Ireland, while surrounded by a hard-drinking family and friends.  As she struggles to maintain her sobriety, her sponsor is this hard-as-nails, no-nonsense woman who constantly hammers away at the importance of being and staying honest.  As she tries to work the steps by focusing on being honest in all her affairs, everyone around her pushes back and tries to get her to start drinking again, although her addiction has caused everyone so much pain.  The series is a good reminder that what we do impacts everyone around us.

Our daughter often jokes that men are like waffles while women are like spaghetti.  Men seem more able to compartmentalize their lives, while women, dealing with motherhood, marriage, relationships, and jobs,  get all tangled up like a bowl of spaghetti.  There seems to be a lot of truth in that from my perspective.  In fact, in The Shack, Papa observes that one of the consequences of the fall from grace is that men try to find fulfillment in their jobs and achievements while women look to relationships for happiness and meaning. That also seems true to me.  It was true in my own marriage, and I see it in the marriages of my friends and family.  With few exceptions,  in all the relationships I know, the husbands depend on their wives to play the role of social director and provide whatever friendships he has.

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One of the major themes of The Shack is the importance of loving, affirming relationships as that which provides meaning in life.  I had never really thought of The Trinity as being the ultimate example of intimate relationships, but that makes more sense to me than a lot of the theological gobbledygook. While making money and becoming successful and powerful is at the top of our cultural list of achievements, in reality, that kind of success does not satisfy one’s soul.  Look at Donald Trump, for example.  He is successful in all the ways we idolize, but in truth, he is very insecure and fearful, terrified to make even a tiny mistake and lose face.  In fact, the more obsessed we become with success, the more emotionally, socially, and religiously isolated we become.  Unfortunately, we women are falling into this same trap as we seek to become “equals” with men.  Instead of showing them a better way, we have simply adopted the male model of success.  And I write this as an avowed feminist, having spent much of my adult life trying to pioneer opportunities for women in a male-dominated society.

This brings me back to honesty as a core value in every aspect of our lives.  One of the most frightening things about Trump and his followers is that honesty and truth are no longer valued.  Anything to gain and hold power, with people being mere pawns to use and abuse in the search for power.  Circle back to The Shack’s insistence that,  in the end, all that truly matters are relationships built on love, trust, and honesty.  

Looking back on those last months of my husband’s life, we watched him shift from doing,   as his way of interacting with others, to simply being who he was. Bit by bit, we watched him let go of doing taxes and the books for this or that organization, becoming more comfortable with just being the gentle, lovely man he had spent most of his life trying to hide in his drive for financial and social success.  During those last months, his focus shifted to mending bridges, doing painful forgiveness work, and basking in the love of family and friends.  It was wonderful to watch, yet I felt a great sadness that he had waited until the end of his life to discover true contentment instead of reaching for the joy and fulfillment honest and affirming friendships and relationships are waiting to provide.

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