Saturday, April 02, 2005

Letting go

Mattie StepanekI'm not like a lot of people who ascribe to broad labels like "right wing" or "pro life." Though I share values with right wingers, I can't say that I agree 100% with their points of view. Neither do I wholeheartedly disagree with those sitting on the left side of the isle. So what does that make me? A moderate? Maybe. But my definition of moderate may not be what you think. I'm not always in the middle on everything. I can't consistently apply one point of view to every situation just because "that's what my group believes." That would mean not thinking.

I prefer instead to weigh out my stand on things case by case. Where I may agree with conservatives on one thing, I just as soon may take the opposing point of view on a similar situation under different circumstances.

Which is why Thursday's passing of Terri Schiavo got me thinking. From her parents right on up to the President of the United States I saw people passionately making a case to save her life. But what was best for Terri? You read that right, I believe there's a difference. Saving her life and what's best for her don't automatically mean the same thing, and I don't think I saw one person address that question. Everyone I saw on TV was fighting passionately to keep her alive, and it seemed quite clear to me that they were doing so because, well, they believed that life was worth preserving.

As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life. But that doesn't mean that I blindly believe that life must be preserved at all cost, by all means, at all times, in all cases.

Many millennia ago, the author of Ecclesiastes in his infinite wisdom penned:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;... A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Could that mean that sometimes, under certain circumstances, even if we can keep it from happening, we must simply accept that it's a person's time to die? A while ago I heard someone--a psychologist I think--say:
We stay in a relationship because being with that person makes us feel good about ourselves.
In other words, you stick around for you, not them. Which, when you're dating, makes sense. But just because it's valid in that particular setting, it doesn't mean that it's suddenly applicable in every relationship situation under ever circumstance in our lives.

That's where my brain made the leap. If our motive in a relationship is primarily the way we feel about ourselves, then why in the case of losing a loved one are we to automatically assume that mourning their loss is actually an altruistic emotion for their loss? Which of course brings me to the next leap: If we're in fact mourning our loss of them and not their loss of life, then is it possible that our fight to keep them alive is less for their "right to live" and more for our inability to let them go? And can that lead us to selfishly cling to someone whose time has come to die?

Maybe we should follow Mattie Stepanek's mother's example when she said to her dying 13 year old son:
"Mattie, it's okay to rest. You are everything God created people to be, you are everything God created you to be, you have done everything you came here for, and it's okay to rest. I love you."

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