Friday, 03 July 2009
I want to start out with a very simple declaration. I am, by no means, a celebrity. I've never been invited to the Playboy Mansion. I can't remember ever attending a hollywood movie premiere. To my knowledge, Perez Hilton's never blogged about me -- though admittedly, I'd be just fine if THAT never occured.
Reality check. I'm a normal guy.
Probably 90 percent of the people I meet on a daily basis actually understand that fact. But there are those who, for lack of a better term, get "star struck" by the "famous writer, Edward Hancock II." (*laughs at the very notion* I swear, ya publish a book or two and people get this idea in their heads...)
In truth, I guess I'm no different than a truly "regular Joe." I meet all manner of people in my daily life. I meet people who want to help me become a better writer. I meet people who want to help me become a better man. I meet people who need my help. I meet people who don't know what they need or want, but just know that they think I'm cool. And then I meet people who want to (pardon my French) screw me over. They want to rob me of what they think I have and get so angry when they find out that I don't have 1/100th of what they think I have. They want to tear me down even as I am still laboring to ascend the mountain known as literary fame.
You get the greedy folks who stick by you as long as the money holds out, which isn't very long in my line of work, believe me! LOL
And of course, there's the tried and true folks. Those who knew me when I was just "Little Eddie in the sandbox with no legs." (Long story there... Just go with it.)
The list of people I truly trust is not short by any means. I've known Steve, Shannon and Angie for more than 30 years each. I've known others more than 20. I've bled for some, sweat for most. Cried for, over and with dang near all of them. But the list of new people I meet and come to fully trust is.... well, almost non-existent.
Fair? No. But it is reality. I am just not quick to trust anymore.
Reality check number 2. Not to be a celebrity, I have one of the biggest CELEBRITY COMPLEXES imaginable.
I have certain rules that I simply won't break. Those rules have deprived me of more than my share of would-be friends, but I can't change them. If somebody doesn't understand why I don't want to put my son's name and/or image on myspace, that's their problem, not mine. If somebody can't respect that 35 years of heartache is enough to damage anyone, well, so be it. Even with my meager "fame" I meet my share of leeches. I meet my fair share of people bent on my sadness and destruction every day. (I think the worst was when it came from my own family, but that's a story I don't feel like sharing.)
I'm a hard man to get to know. I'm a hard man to get close to. I don't like letting folks in because, more times than not, I get hurt. Let me just say this right now. I don't want to get hurt anymore. Will it happen? Yeah. A life without pain is a life unlived.
Still, I have to be cautious. I'm too old to just go throwing my heart out there for anyone who says they give a dang, but doesn't have the will power to back it up.
Make no bones about it, I'm 35. I'm old, cranky and untrusting. But once I let you in...
Ask anyone in my Myspace top 10. I'll die for you. I'll kill for you. I'll "Help you hide the bodies," so to speak. It takes hell getting in, but once you're in my heart, it's next to impossible to get out.
In 35 years, many haven't stuck around that long. A great multitude have parted company once the illusion gave way to reality. Most have simply been too short-sighted. They see the wall they must knock down to get inside...and aren't willing to put in the work.
Others have gone away, missed me and come back or simply lost touch and reconnected years later (Thanks to The internet!) These relationships are some of my most dear because in many cases I'd spent 10 years or more thinking about these people who'd taken a piece of my heart with them when Fate had forced us from one another's lives.
"If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's meant to be."
I just asked one of my friends how she managed to get inside. I asked her what did she see in me that made her willing to do the work it took to get inside.
Her response? "I guess I never thought of it as work. Work is hard. Being your friend has always been easy."
(She is apparently sadistic, but that's a story for another blog! LOL)
In fairness, my situation has changed a bit since she and I became friends. I do have a son now, which makes it even harder to make friends. If we're friends, chances are you're going to be around him at some point. What kind of influence are you going to be on him?
Even if, as he recently suggested, he decides to give Kelly's new man a "real chance", I still love him and he's first and last in my heart. I love him enough to let him spread his wings, in the hope that the four winds will blow him back in my direction.
In my house, in my life or not, he's in my heart to stay.
Some might think that would only apply to the next woman I am dating. Understand that if he doesn't like her, she's gone. No questions asked.
But any wannabe friend that puts my son at risk will be gone just as quickly.
Is it worth the risk? Well, the payout is great. I'll never ask anything of you I'm not prepared to give myself. You show me you're willing to risk, I'll do my best to make dang sure your leap of faith does not end with you hitting the ground. I guess the larger question is not if the friendship is worth the risk but if I, Eddie Hancock, am worth it. Likewise, I must find myself asking are you worth it? What are you showing me that would make me trust you'll do for me as I will for you?
Reality check number 3. I kinda purposely saved this for last. It very likely could have gone first, but it's my most powerful point, so I saved it for last.
I love God more than my son.
I can feel people blanching at that statement, but I know at least 2 parents off the top of my head who are nodding, going "me too."
I love God as my Heavenly Father. Do I serve Him perfectly? No. I wish I did. But my desire is to serve God and not Man, period. I love my son, my family and my friends enough to labor to put God first -- though I am still learning to succeed more than I fail.
I serve by praying for (and with) my friends and loved ones. I serve by attending worship and praise service. I serve by listening. I serve by doing my best to put some sort of Godly message in my blogs. I serve through patiently waiting on God's time.
I serve Him in many ways too numerous to list here, but I serve Him first and foremost.
Not all of my friends have the same level of faith in a Christian God that I do. I have friends that are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists... you name it, chances are I have a friend that is one.
So, how do I do that? How do I balance my faith in God with a flourishing friendship to Atheists? Simple. In a word, respect.
I'm passionate about my Christian beliefs and I blog about them. To date, I don't recall this friend replying to any Christian-themed blog, though admittedly I may be wrong on that. (I've been blogging since '05!)
I'm reasonably sure I have not commented on his atheist-themed blogs, though I have read a few of them.
We talk openly about our beliefs "in person" but we do not belittle one another or shove our agendas down each other's throats and we've been decent friends for going on 4 years now.
So, what's the key? How do you open the door to Eddie? Well, it takes a while for it to get truly all the way open so that you can come all the way in. But it's actually kind of easy.
Before Kelly left, she and I fought a lot. She was miserable. I was miserable. Then one day I was watching an episode of Joyce Meyer in which she recounted the story of the Prodigal Son. (Kelly was watching too.) But she recounted it rather uniquely. She recounted it from the perspective of the "other brother." The one that had been there the whole time, loyal and serving his father.
"How can you do this?" he thought of his father. "He's been gone and now that he's back you want to prepare a feast for him?! What about me?! I've been here!"
And so he probably sat outside and stewed the whole night. If he's like most siblings, he probably stewed for days and then went and peed in the guy's blankets just for good measure, but that's neither here nor there.
The point is the party was going on whether the other brother came in or not. He just chose to miss out.
As I sat there listening, a light bulb came on. I had become a dark person. I'd become a misery even unto myself. And so had Kelly.
(We can argue fault all day long. The point is that we were miserable and something needed to be done.)
Finally, I reached my breaking point. I told her "Look, we can't go on like this. We are both miserable and one of us has to stand up and say enough. From now on, I am throwing a party. The party's going to be at Pathway every Saturday night and it's going to be in this house every other day of the week. I'm throwing this party with or without you. A party to celebrate my return to God. If you want to attend, I am leaving the door open, but I am not going to sit outside and be miserable just because you don't want to come in."
Sadly, she chose misery over me, though it would take months to unravel.
I faced a choice. I could let myself unravel or I could continue to throw the party. (Honestly, try as I might, the "party" did take a bit of a hiatus for a while.)
The reality is many people aren't willing to drop fear, pride or anger long enough to come inside, wherever the party. Those aren't the kind of friend I want or need.
Like the saying goes, "Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option."
So, to all wouldbe friends, all I can say is go ahead and come to the party. There's no guest list, but there is a dress code. You have to come dressed in love, honesty, patience and understanding.
If you're willing to see it through to the end, the reward is only this. A friend like no other.
The door is open. And I'm the one in the corner, looking just a tad bit lost in the sea of faces, but having a great time nevertheless!
Until next time, this blog is brought to you by the letters W, E and H and by the number 2, all of whom hope to see you there.