This week, I suffered the loss of a what I thought to be a very dear friendship to the ravages of miscommuniations turned gossip turned accepted “truth”.  I’ve spent months unaware of what was brewing in a circle of women, and most particularly in the heart of my friend.  I was broken up with without a chance to defend myself this past Saturday night.  I went to liturgy this Sunday overburdened and weighed down by this situation, one that despite all my tears, begging and attempts to give my perspective, could not seem to affect or change.

I could not focus on the words of the prayer, I could not even fix my thought on my sweet 7 year old Janka Fairy standing in front of me, leaning into me with so much love and affection.  My mind was fixed on acual conversations long since past, and imaginary conversations never had but wish I could.  I was drawing a mental map of all my missteps, kicking myself for putting so much stock into a friendship with another woman to the detriment of my family.  I vascillated between self-pity, shame, anger, and then resignation, “oh well, who needs friends anyway!?”

Then came the part of the liturgy where we sing, over and over again…very slowly….”lay aside all earthly care.”  It is the last phrase of the Cherubic Hymn, which is in its entirity, “Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and chant the thrice-holy hymn unto the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly care.”   At this point, it is interrupted by the Great Entry, which is when the priest and two deacons bring the bread and wine through the doors in front of the people.  It then concludes, “That we may receive the King of all, Who cometh invisibly upborne in triumph by the ranks of the angels.”

All I could hear through all of this, was “lay aside all earthly care”, again and again.  Indeed, it became to touchstone to which I tried to return when the tsunami of regret and suffering seemed to come crashing upon me again.  I knew that I had to find some way to lay aside this care, this burden that was preventing me from even enjoying the warm presence of my daughter while we stood worshipping together.  I began to think and wonder, why had this happened to me, why had I been so terribly misunderstood?  And why am I so entangled inside with this hurt, in a way that I can barely muster for members of my own family?!

I know that I must lay aside this care, though, “so that [I] may receive the King of all”.  He is not only my King, but the King of my friend, of this whole situation, of my children, my husband, the woman who told a mistruth about me, leading to heaps and heaps of suffering and lost trust.  But, if I want to receive H-m, I have to lay all of this aside.  I cannot receive him when I am holding onto this, even holding onto my own life as if it was mine to control.  I have to lay aside my efforts, my pleading, my feeling as though what I am experiencing comes even close to the experience my children have with a mother who is so distracted and withdrawn that they have to grab my face in their hands to get me to look at them.  If I want to be a vessel of  Love, then I must receive H-m, and I must be emptied for that to happen.

Can I come before G-d’s altar and lay these “gifts” at H-s feet?  Can I trust H-m to make out of this situation what will be the best for me? 

Lately, I’ve been reading about the idea of “peer orientation” vs. “parent attachment”, and how when children are SO peer attached, there is no room left for attachment to their parents, and this is where the battles begin.  The trouble with being peer oriented, however, is that peers aren’t particularly equipped to love unconditionally the way a parent can.  So, troubles and betrayals are all inevitable, and the impetus to “fix it” doesn’t exist in the way that it theoretically does in families, between parents and children. 

I was raised to be peer oriented, and I have realized through this experience, that I still am.  Sure, my ideals may have changed.  I believe that my most important relationships are with my children, my husband, my extended family, and THEN my friends.  If someone were to ask me to write a list of my relational priorities, they would be in THIS order.  However, when I am functioning full of my conditioning, full of my habits, full of my own thoughts instead of emptying myself  so that I can receive the King, I act and live as if my priorities are in complete opposite order.  I spend hours on the phone, gossiping, “venting”, or even talking about more “positive” things.  I hide from my kids in the bathroom, phone stuck to my ear thinking, “why won’t they leave me in peace so I can have this (really important, yeah right) conversation?”  I obsess over the dramas of my friends lives, with the friends they are having problems with.  I expend large amounts of mental energies thinking of the best thing for one woman to say to her crazy mother-in-law, I count the hours until I can sit with my glass of wine on the phone and hear the rest of a story about another woman’s drama with an on again off again BFF that she couldn’t fit into a text without getting extra charges.  And…when the tables are turned on me, and I am the one who is the target of all this chatter and circumspection, I spend my days re-reading emails I wrote, or received, and calling other non-involved girlfriends to get their opinions on my one side of things.  And the cycle continues.  I train myself on making myself feel better by the very activity I am suffering from.  Sin.

So many times in my life, I have continued to be involved in a situation, in a way of being that is not what G-d wants for me, but I use G-d speak to justify it, to keep it going.  As I stood there hearing again and again, “lay aside all earthly cares”, I realized that I needed to let it all go, not just this specific friend, this particular situation…but my inner peer dependance, the idolatry of my so-called friendships (or partners in crime), and my neglect of my truly important relationships, most particularly my children and husband.  There is no room for machinations and manipulations in an empty vessel.  There is no room for idle chatter and false assumptions in the same space as the King.  He is the King of all, and as I shed these layers that keep me from H-m, I feel lighter, yet regretful over the time I have wasted in these daliances; in these complex worldly things.

Far better than being “parent oriented”, which is far better than peer orientaion… is being “G-d oriented”.  I lost the chance to have true attachment to my parents, but in the eyes and arms of my Parent, I am still a child, and I am still growing and developing.  In my attachment to H-m, I can become that vessel of H-s love.  When I am full, I can shine it on my children.  And, if I have been able to shed the extras, the distractions, loose talk and inappropriate relationships, I’ll make clear for my children to hopefully see through me to their King.  With all the noise and commotion I’ve been bringing on myself, I’m sure it’s hard for them to look anywhere else but at me.  If I can quiet this restless soul of mine, and come like the Cherubim before the throne, I have a chance to guide them to H-m and H-s love…and maybe they won’t feel they need to spend their lives in wasteful and hurtful pursuits.