Earlier this week, I saw Heaven is For Real. I didn’t really plan on seeing it – it was The Auteur and 1B’s suggestion- but I think I might have gotten even just as into the movie than either of them did.
The movie and the novel from which it was adapted are based on a true story. Here’s the story in a nutshell: Greg Kinnear plays Todd Burpo a minister whose son Colton claims to have visited Heaven after falling ill. Colton’s experience becomes the talk of the town forcing Burpo and eventually the town folk to examine their own faith. Like any good art, this movie got me thinking; not in the sense that it redefined or reaffirmed my spiritual faith, but it got me thinking about faith and spirituality again.
Let me be absolutely clear: I am not a terribly religious man, but I do consider myself spiritual at times. I am not a fan of organized religion. When you stop and think about the whole concept of organized religion, the entire church hierarchy was established because people were generally illiterate and needed The Bible interpreted for them.
I used to think that I don’t need anyone to explain The Bible to me. I’m educated, I’m a teacher. I can interpret The Bible for myself, I thought. While I was watching this movie, I realized how hypocritical that attitude is for me to have as a teacher. People defer to me to teach their children because of my training. People see me as something of an authority when it comes to education. The least I can do is have the same respect for clergymen and clergywomen.
I think what really got my goat about this movie – and I can’t speak for the book or the true story – was the attitude that the members of Burpo’s church have about young Colton’s experience. One would expect even the most religious person to have a healthy dose of skepticism upon hearing about a trip to Heaven. However most of the community had the attitude of “C’mon Todd, you don’t really believe in all this Heaven stuff do you?” The film does a good job of demonstrating logical, rational explanations for Colton’s experience; but the churchgoers seem to reject Colton’s experience outright. A question I think the director should have addressed is when it really comes down to it, how much do you believe in that which you claim to hold so dear?
This entry isn’t a pro-Christian piece, or even a pro religion piece of any sort. But the fact is humans established religion(s) to explain those things that we can’t really explain. Why are we here? What is purpose in this world? What happens when life ends? These are all questions that religions are established and the answers require – no pun intended – a leap of faith. There’s no scientific or rational evidence to back up an religious doctrine but that’s the point. You trust in something when you don’t have all the answers. That’s something the film makers should have preached to the audience.
There’s so much I want to say to you, but doing so seems so pointless now. On second thought, I wanna get is off my chest and I don’t care if you see/hear it or not.
I want to apologize for my part in the dissolution of this marriage. When I decided to marry you, I didn’t go in thinking it would end in anything other than one or both of our deaths. I don’t think most people enter into marriage intending for it to ever end; but as we know, good intentions aren’t always enough. Don’t think I’m assuming sole responsibility for anything here. As I told you before “it takes 2 people to ruin a perfectly good marriage”.
Somewhere along the way, these last few years to be more specific, I turned into someone I despised. I lied to you and I lied to my parents. Finances got tight and I was desperate. I took a lot of chances and pushed things to the absolute limits in several areas of my life. I made it hard for me to live with myself, and I’m sure it was no easier on you. At the end of the day I knew I was doing it for our family. I think that’s the only way I was able to live with myself. Even now, I know in my heart that I did absolutely everything in my power to maintain our family. If it wasn’t enough – and apparently it wasn’t – I could live with myself knowing I gave it my all.
I’ve told you before that communication broke down between us years ago, long before the events of the last year or two. In hindsight, I think that was the beginning of the end for us. I specifically remember one day (and I know you’ve heard this before) that I was complaining about work, and you accused me of “bitching”. I can tell you that that was the moment I stopped confiding in you – about my hopes, my dreams, my fears and my thoughts on anything of any real significance in our lives. Looking back now, that conversation was a red flag.
Being separated for the last few months has allowed me the time to reflect not just on the last few years, but also the entirety of our relationship. Since the day I met you, you’ve had this “me against the world” mentality. You believe it is a source of strength for you; and to some extent, maybe it is. You were always so scared of showing the outside world any sign of weakness or pain that you built up these walls around yourself. To strangers, family, friends and foes alike, your words, actions and body language all said to the world: “I am who I am, and I will mow down anyone who stands in my way”. And for the most part, it has worked out for you. I’ve had friends of ours, acquaintances and strangers say that they were intimidated by you. I’m sure on many levels, that’s just stroking your ego. You thrive on people being afraid of you. You think that that is your greatest source of strength. On the contrary, it is your greatest weakness. You probably describe yourself as being “assertive”. Others would describe you as being a bitch. Rather than showing any signs of vulnerability, you push people away. You keep everyone, including your loved ones at arm’s length. I call it being a coward.
Maybe you and I were a bad combination from the start. I was always the more passive of the two of us. “diplomatic” and ” the good cop” are two expressions that I remember being used to describe me. Maybe in this relationship, I played the role of the good girl who as determined find the sweet, sensitive guy buried far below the surface of your Bad Boy persona.
(Updated 10.1. 12) It is occurring to me you simply didn’t want to be married to me anymore. In fact, you haven’t for a while. I wanted to think that our separation was a result of my actions of the last several months regarding money, etc. Not because I wanted to blame myself; but because I wanted to “connect the dots”. But the reason for our divorce no longer matter to me anymore.
I would’ve done anything to work things out between you and I – for our son if not for us. But in hindsight, I’ve realized that we passed the “point of no return” too long ago. You, me, time and our feelings for one another simply passed each other by too long ago.
I hate the fact that we failed The Kid. If I ever thought for one second that we would one day divorce, I never would have started a family with you. That is not to say that I have any regrets. Far fro it. The Kid is the best thing that ever has or ever will happen to me. As much as it hurts me to say that I am not in his life everyday, I am absolutely honored to be his father. No job I ever take will be more important or more prestigious than being his father.
I hate the fact that I was a part of a failed marriage. I hate the fact that we are now among the majority of American married couples. And I hate the fact that I stood before my family, my friends, and yes, my God and said that I would be with you for the rest for my life; when that was obviously not to be.
- 6 Ways to Protect Your Marriage From Breaking (ym360degrees.wordpress.com)
- Fiancé and Finances: 10 Questions to Ask Before Marriage (lexingtonlaw.com)
- Marriage Isn’t For Two (seecao.wordpress.com)
When I wasn’t taking my impending separation well, my soon-to-be-ex-wife suggested that I start writing again.
Be careful what you wish for…
I’m 38 and the father of the greatest five-year old boy in the world. Twenty-nine days ago I moved out my house, leaving my son and my-soon-to-be-ex-wife (hereafter referred to as the STBX) five states away and back in with my parents. It was (and is) the only option I had (and have) available at the moment.
Thomas Wolfe was right when he said “you can’t go home again“. I thought I’d be excited top be back in familiar surroundings, but it isn’t the same place anymore. So much of the area has built up in the last eight years, and so much of it was abandoned when the economy sank a few years back. I used to know every single family who lived on my block. Now I hardly recognize any of the houses, let alone the people who now live in them. A very bizarre sensation, but one I should have expected.
My immediate family has been great. God bless ’em. They have been the very model of unconditional love. My brother and my Dad helped me pack my things and move back here. My mother, unable to unable to make the trip herself, was here to welcome me with open arms when we got back. My sister has proven once again to be a great friend, confidante and drinking partner.
A SIDE NOTE: No matter how old you are, your parents will always treat you like you’re eight years old. At least the really good ones will. Sure, it’s annoying at times but they mean well. Taking care of you is the mission with which they were charged when you were born. It’s just in their DNA.
Getting back to me: I think I’m adjusting to my new-old life fairly well. At times, I feel a little lost. I’m currently not working, but my plan is to get back into school this fall to finish my Master’s degree. I’ll probably have to move to wherever I can find a job, but ideally I’d like to be relatively close to my son. I have no intention of becoming a “weekend and holiday dad”. To her credit, my STBX and I have thus far remained “a united front” on all things pertaining to our son.
On a different topic: my 20 year high school reunion is coming up. I did not attend either my 5 or 10 year reunions but I’m excited about this one. I did not particularly enjoy my high school years, I’m curious to see some of my old classmates again. I blame Facebook for this change of heart. When I got on there, I started friending people whom I went to school with but never talked to. Social media really has changed our world.
ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: Anyone who tells you that high school is the best time of your life has never been to college.