There are two things on my mind today, and in some strange way they are related. The first is that I found out this weekend that a guy I knew in high school died last Friday. He was 34, had been married for 10 months, and just died in his sleep. No warning. No hint that his last words or goodnight kiss or the evening before would be his last. Just poof. Gone.
I haven’t seen this guy since high school…haven’t really even thought about him since high school, if you want to know the honest truth. But he was good friends with my friend M, who I do hang out with now and then. So M has been talking about it and telling me about it, and it blows my mind that a perfectly healthy guy my age just suddenly left this world.
It makes me think about how I’m living my life, for sure. Am I living each day to the fullest? Am I saying the things that need to be said? Am I living my life in such a way that if I were to die tomorrow, I could die with no regrets? Yeah, I’m thinking on all those things. But also, I’m looking at the people in my life and seeing that there are a lot of people in this world that aren’t looking at the big picture.
My friend, A, for instance, recently found text messages on her husband’s phone from a woman. “A friend”, according to him. The messages were flirty and often in code and completely inappropriate. But he didn’t like being called out on them. He didn’t like that A was mad about his relationship with this girl, whatever it may be. So he left. He moved out, and now A is taking care of their three children on her own. She’s drinking more than she should. She has started smoking again. She’s taking advantage of her freedom by flirting with other guys and entertaining the thought of finding a new guy. She’s visiting lawyers and bad-mouthing her husband and talking divorce. Mostly, she’s in defensive mode, because her husband L is being such a jerk.
And I look at L and I can tell that he’s acting on this little feeling of unhappiness. This restless feeling everyone has now and then of being in a marriage for a while and having the responsibility of three kids and wondering what it would be like to be a little more free again. Most of us brush it away, whine a little about how rough life is, and get on with our lives the best we can. But L…he’s checking it out. He’s walking away, just like the eight years and three kids mean nothing to him. He’s out having fun and acting single. And his children are paying the price. His wife is paying the price. His family is paying the price. All because he’s not looking at the big picture.
L claims to have no “emotional interest” in A at this point. He just doesn’t care about her or their marriage anymore. He’s done. Overnight, practically, he has decided that he wants out. He probably thinks that he is seizing the moment, and doing what he needs to do to be happy. But I think I’m wise enough these days to realize that in truth, there are two ways to go about that. He can leave his family behind to pursue “new” happiness…the excitement of a new girl and new possibilities and a new life. Or, he can man up and do what he needs to do to make his current life happier. Make more effort. Be a better husband. Be a better dad. Care. In the end, which would he regret? If he died tomorrow, would he regret staying? Or leaving?
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s never a place for divorce. I have many friends that are divorced and it was the best thing for them…they are much happier now. What I’m saying is that people too often don’t look at the big picture. Too often they take the “easy” way out. They don’t try hard enough. I think that if you are going to take steps toward divorce, especially if you have children, you need to make every possible effort to save that marriage first. You need to exhaust every minute possibility. You need to fight your butt off before throwing in the towel.
Somehow this has turned into a post about divorce. That wasn’t my intention. But it’s a valid example of how easily many people today throw away things in their life without much consideration. We take the “easy” way out…we are selfish and do whatever we want to do to fulfill our fleeting desires…we toss aside people and pursue our own agendas. If I could talk to the high school friend who just passed away, what would he say his regrets were? I think it would be the people he hurt. The things he didn’t say to those he loved. The things he didn’t do for them that he should have.
But for us, it’s not too late. Now’s our chance.