Today was an especially lonely day. It is funny how in the midst of my addiction I sought to carve out alone time and now that I am in recovery but have plenty of alone time, it is as hollow and empty as the shell game at the carnival. And in these moments of loneliness, I often hear Satan walking down the hall and entering my room to pull up a chair. “I know how you feel, ” he whispers, “like you never quite fit in, like your never quite have what it takes. (Yes, Satan sometimes ends phrases in a preposition.) It’s not fair the hand God dealt you and how you chose to play the cards, well God wired you like He did. I get it.” Half-truths served on a platter garnished with sympathy.
And so we commiserate as the echoes of sad red dirt country song echo across the room from a jukebox that is not really there. A pity party ensues, where we both imagine that everyone has it better than us, everyone is out having fun with friends or tucking in their family, while we spend a Friday night alone, yet again. And I don’t know if it Satan’s ploy or not but I am not drawn to past addictions this night, merely sadness. Maybe this is where he wants to hold me tonight, in the remembrances of my deep failures, not in actual re-failing, for both can be equally crippling. And tonight he has done this effectively as I feel like the last kid picked on the emotional playground at recess, like I missed the easy layup so many times and everyone knows it.
From this sadness comes a question. It is a question we all wrestle with deeply. Do I have what it takes? I feel this now from a phone conversation I got off earlier this evening with someone whom I love who feels let down by me yet again. And when I ask this question, my “friend” is quick to speak. Sometimes my party companion tells me, “You almost do, just try harder,” for there are moments he knows that he needs to keep me far from admitting I truly don’t have what it takes. He knows this confession could be fatal to his cause IF the admitting it leads me back to the fountainhead of grace.
But other times, he sees a different disposition in me, and upon taking a stiff drink, he puts his arm around my back and says, “No, you don’t have what it takes.” I don’t. He is right–why keep trying, you cannot ever get it right, you always let them down, you’re a hopeless case. In these moments it is so easy to get sucked into vortex of fatalism. “This is what you are. This is how it will always be.” Down, down down, until you are doing what one of my high classmates ironically voted most=likely-to-succeed did. You type “clearing the wreckage” as your Facebook status and off yourself from living.
And I have listened to his tales long enough tonight….
Instead I’ll sing the refrain. Even when I don’t feel particularly feel like it.