Open Ended

November 15th, 2020

“Commitment is an act, not a word.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

When I was on my way home from Texas three weeks ago, I got a phone call from a girl that I love. She was upset. Her fiancé just had a drug relapse, and was in the hospital for detox. The young woman said to me,

“He is getting kicked out of his mom’s house. Can he stay with us?”

Without giving it a second thought, I replied, “Yes.”

The young man is now living with us. As a matter of fact, he is presently taking a well-deserved nap in the girl’s bedroom. He was up most of the night with two of his children (from a previous relationship), and he’s a bit worn out. His kids came here for a sleepover, which means this guy didn’t get to sleep last night. The girl’s fiancé already has three small children, and when the young woman gives birth to Asher at the beginning of February, he will have four.

The young man is a decent enough guy. He’s been through some very rough times, and he trying to get his life back together. He truly loves the young woman, and she loves him. They have similar histories (tumultuous), and they are able to support each other emotionally and spiritually. Financially, it’s a different story, but they are working on that part of the their relationship.

Staying sober and healthy is a struggle for both of them. Well, that is a challenge for me too. Experiencing the physical world without any buffers is a bitch. These two young people are doing their best to live their lives in the world that exists around them, I admire them for their efforts.

However, they can’t do it on their own.

Honestly, nobody can do it on their own. Anybody who says that they can navigate the struggles of life without help is a liar. Rugged individualism isn’t enough. Reliance on a God who may or may not exist in the material world isn’t enough. A person can only survive and thrive with the assistance of other people.

Why did we welcome this young man into our home? I’m not sure about that. Twenty years ago, Karin and I had the opportunity (or responsibility) to allow my younger brother, Chuck, into our house. He was in a similar situation. He was addicted and homeless at the time. I chose to keep him out. I was scared and I didn’t know what my brother would do. I kept Chuck at arm’s length.

Chuck is dead.

Did I kill him? Probably not. But I could have helped him, and I didn’t.

What is different now? I am different, for sure. After a decade of dealing with the young woman’s drug problems, I have changed my ideas and beliefs. I don’t judge nearly as much as I used to. I’m still scared, but I don’t care about the consequences of helping any more.

This young man is family. He is the father of the young woman’s child. I have a responsibility for him, one that goes beyond blood relation.

I am committed. That commitment is open ended.

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