“Men always love an idea before the fact.”
-Bishop Fulton Sheen
This is so true for me!
I’d like to offer a word substitution to Bishop Sheen’s statement though. I’d like to change ‘idea’ to ‘dream’. Men always love a dream before the fact.
When I first thought of a career, I fell in love with the dream of helping people. As I pursed the dream in college, I developed my concept of the ideal job. It would be a large hospital with research happening in all aspects of my field. I would be a renowned speaker. I would uncover effective treatments and cures for the people I would serve. I would be a wonderful Speech Therapist.
Well, I enjoyed a career of over 40 years as a Speech Therapist. I have known a variety of work settings, including the big hospitals, speaking to huge audiences, but only one publication and no world-wide notoriety.
When I dreamed about marriage, I had a mental picture of the perfect wife. She would be the envy of my friends. She would be a woman I would be proud to show off. She would be my trophy. (Are you laughing hysterically yet?)
As I ponder the thought of loving the dream before the fact, I began to look at the concepts that formed my dreams and ideas: The college environment offered opportunities to rub elbows with the famous research personalities. Some of these folks would recognize me at conferences. My ego would swell. However, I noticed a common thread among the famous folks. With very few exceptions, their family lives were strained. Most were divorced famous people. Hmmmm?
My dreams of marriage were formed by some of these famous people. I, too, enjoyed the attention from public speaking. The thread was also forming in me. I soon found myself losing touch with my family.
My dream wife: This dream also fell under the influence of social norms. She must be beautiful, like the magazine photos and advertisements. There were many more intense influences from the ‘adult’ entertainment world. These were images that left me in the life of addiction and very close to a failed marriage.
Somewhere in this story was a time of honesty, reality and repentance.
I began to notice the lifestyles of the not so famous often had happy and content relationships. They, too, had something in common: A journey of committed struggles and celebrations. There was a work ethic of love. While many were not recovering addicts, many were. The common threads among them included commitment, struggle, community and celebration. These are the same life qualities we experience in recovery.
WE are in this together.
WE support each other for better or for worse.
WE support each other through the struggles.
WE celebrate the days, weeks and years of sobriety.
WE celebrate the pain of relapse.
WE learn from each other’s experience, strength and hope.
WE share our work ethic of love.
Addict or not, I have come to recognize the Spiritual powers of community, including forgiveness, accountability, more forgiveness, support, more forgiveness, peace, love, and more forgiveness. These define the work ethic of love.
I hope these thoughts are old, repetitive and almost boring, because there is really nothing new here.
As I look to my present state of preach and contentment, the story is the same: We are in this together. We do the work of love. These are the facts of love.
Today, August 21, Ann and I will celebrate 47 years of marriage. We can truly celebrate because there are literally hundreds of people in our village who have left their footprints on our relationship. Many of those footprints are deeply imbedded in my backside. Yet, I am grateful.
We are the facts of love.
We thank you.