BUMPS AND BRUISES
When you manage to live enough years, life has a way to remind you that you are getting old. I have four children and at times they seem pretty much indestructible. I get to nurse a lot of cuts and scrapes, wipe away a lot of tears and I wonder if Child Services is going to get a phone call when I see the number of bruises that my kids are walking around with. Time and time again, just as my father’s brain sees a situation with impending negative outcomes, they slip, slam, fall, and tumble in ways that would cause me to have to replan my month, but they bounce back. Scrapped, teary, but with no real consequence.
A few years back I ended up sitting across a kiosk from a lady as I uttered the words “So I am feeling on and off chest pain type stuff.” The triage nurse, filled in the necessary information into the computer and then I was magically whisked away from the room full of people to an eager and prepared staff. I’m pretty sure that if I ever have to go to the emergency department again I should open with that zinger and then quickly swap to “no wait, I’m feeling great all of a sudden – but this flesh wound seems to be spurting red stuff.”
Triage is a good thing and the nurse did her job. As much as I was given a clean bill of health after they determined that it was a back muscle problem radiating to my chest, it could have been something serious. And that’s just it, we’re good at seeing the red stuff, the broken stuff, the painful stuff and knowing that it needs to be addressed quickly, but in our overall lives perhaps responding to the broken is necessary but late in the process, and obscuring of all the other real needs.
A great part of triage the hospital is that all that seemingly less important stuff still gets addressed. Honestly, have you ever shared the story of the wait at Emerge? If not then you definitely have sat through a few of them – and they’re annoyingly never different from each other, minus the details of the perceived ailments that the other patients had which were ‘more important’.
Now, that less important stuff. The stuff that didn’t demand immediate attention. They still, you still, saw a doctor. How many ‘less important’ situations, relationships, habits, focuses, passions are part of your life that never get addressed because there is always some other pressing thing that needs fixing? How would that portion of yourself speak of the attention given while you whisk it, or them, aside to deal with life’s attention grabbers?
We need to be way better at taking stock of our lives, and this almost always needs help from the outside because of our personal blindspots, presuppositions, and justifications.
Here’s a quick test. Is there an area of your life, an undesired personality trait, or a key relationship, that despite all your effort you’ve made no progress in over great periods of time? If so, it is almost guaranteed that you are doing this on your own strength. Its also highly likely that you don’t have a realistic perspective of the problems, or how you are addressing them.
I have had so many conversations in which people have revealed their completely unrealistic expectations and outcomes regarding life issues. Most often I am struck by how completely out of touch they are with where they are at. Their seasonal cycles continue, nothing is gained, and their circumstances probably get worse due to frustration and neglect.
WHERE ARE YOU?
I love tech. One of the best advancements that I believe is extremely under appreciated is maps on your smartphone. You literally have no reason to not find your way somewhere, and with traffic included and alternate routes! It’s awesome.
The best part of all of this is the blue dot. If we only had a blue dot in life our lives would be insanely different. That little guy simply states, “This is where you are at.” We have all the plans, all the best desires, we can know what our lives and relationships are supposed to look like – but that’s just a destination.
You cannot get to where you need to be if you do not know where you are.
I don’t bounce back anymore. In life, I don’t even think that’s a bad thing. As much as my body feels the years, I get to feel life more. Relationships have become deeper and more meaningful. I have learned to appreciate the gifts of friendship, children, spouse, and community better. I am at least better positioned to know who I am than I was in my rubbery young years. The consequence, of course, is that when bruised or fractured these beautiful gifts can turn to overwhelming hurts.
Our culture shouts a list of solutions. “Be true to yourself!”. I am not even sure what this means – but I do know that its results are one hundred percent selfish and equally as detrimental to every relationship. “The solution is within!”. Ah yes, the fact that all these problems manifest wherever we are is a result of not enough of us. To be absolutely clear if you are not picking up on my cynicism, I consider all of this jibber jabber to be rhetorical absurdity which any depth of observation will show to be self-defeating.
A WAY FORWARD
No. The answer is not within us and it cannot be found on our landscape of ever-shifting ‘truths’. We need the right set of eyes, a loving and honest heart towards us, and the promise of longevity in partnership.
“I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.” Psalm 119:104-105
Here, the psalmist draws new understanding from God and develops a hatred for the ‘wrong path’. We need to have a similar, holy hatred for the wrong path. This new understanding of the underlying problems, incorrect allegiances of the heart, and outright brokeness of desires often stand in contradiction to the lives that we lead. These understandings are the core of the bleeding emergencies that we run around trying to deal with symptomatically.
“A light on my path”. Knowing that there is another path is great news. Knowing that there is an ever patient God who desires to show us the way and guide us by hand along the way is life changing. The question stands though. Are you willing to rethink and explore new avenues of thought towards your life? Are you willing to risk someone else being a part of your solution?
For the Non-Christian
Would you risk ‘a different angle’ on moving forward with your life? Are you willing to let other people share how God has changed their life?
For the Christian
Flat out questions here. Do you actually live differently because of your relationship with Jesus? Or do you worry the same, do it of your own strength, make all of your own plans?
What does scripture say in conjunction with how you live?