I continue to feel better and better, testosterone be praised. This, surprisingly, has created great angst in my heart. My renewed sense of well-being has reminded me of the good old days when I could say with quiet arrogance, “No thanks, I don’t need any help.”
Feeling better, I am not content. I want to go back in time before this nightmare began. Instead, my bones remain brittle, my back still hurts, my energy can disappear suddenly, and my future continues to be subject to sudden cancer squalls that threaten to capsize my little boat (lab results due next Thursday).
You’d think I’d be grateful for what I’ve gained. Instead, my heart is bitter over these limitations that continue to strip me of my self-dependence. Ugly, huh?
Take a look at the picture below. What an amazing thing – a self-dependent dog who can clean up his own crap. I so wish I could be like this again.
Most of you know that I was a pastor for over 30 years (hard to believe, I’m sure). What you may not know is that I was also a tree surgeon.
I have loved caring for trees. The oneness with nature, the danger involved, and the skill required to do the work all combined to create a competency in me that was life-giving.
This competency, on a broader level, has been at the core of my identity as a man.
Two days ago a friend asked me for help in felling a dead pine in his yard. My heart leapt, but I replied sadly, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Not only could I not be of assistance, when I needed a limb taken off a tree in my own yard recently, I had to ask my arborist buddy and mentor, Steve Tillitski, to do this for me (while I watched impotently from the ground).
Steve is 8 years older than me and still climbing and caring for trees. His kindness to me was painful. I had to ask for help. I needed someone to do for me what I used to do for myself. This loss of ability feels like death to me.
He also said I was not maintaining the chain on my saw correctly. Sheesh! Thirty-five years later, he’s still complaining about that?
Even if I can’t trim trees any longer, surely I can clean up the debris and cut the wood into firewood length, wouldn’t you think?
My neighbors apparently disagreed. They showed up unbidden to clean up the limb that had been laying in my yard for two weeks, saying something about property values falling.
Eager to maintain my dignity, I was certain I could carry the very small and light branches a short distance to the road for pick up while my buddies did the heavy lifting.
Attempting this, I pulled a muscle in my back and could barely walk for a week. Betsy had to get the mail.
Damn it. I want to be COMPETENT and USEFUL. Instead, I remain BROKEN and NEEDY.
How bad is this condition?
Even my own blood isn’t competent any more. It takes the gift of a double transfusion of someone else’s juice to get me feeling like a normal human being again.
Do you see the pattern? In my need, I am invited over and over again to receive a gift that comes from outside myself.
Self-dependence – it dies hard. But die it must if we are to run this race well.
You see, we were made to be responsible for our lives, but not ultimately self-dependent.
We were made to need others and to need God.
You don’t get four chapters into the book of Genesis without discovering our deadly desire to depend only on ourselves.
We became self-dependent and thus alienated from both God (Genesis 3) and our neighbor (Genesis 4). It’s in our blood now, this desire to live self-contained lives.
Ask yourself – do you live in a neighborhood or a strangerhood, as I heard someone recently put it?
And God – do you serve Him by loving others well or does He exist simply to bless your life and plans?
Loving God and my neighbor? I’ll pass. I just want to be self-dependent again. Life was so neat and clean back then (or so I pretended).
My blood is dirty with this desire. If I can’t have it, I am furious at the loss.
Who will deliver me from this self-absorption?
Only the One who has clean blood.
Only the One who was never self-absorbed.
Only the One who was perfectly self-sacrificing.
Word is we hung Him on a cross for being so unlike us. But His love trumped even our hatred. His death, and the forgiveness that flows from it, was actually His self-sacrificial gift given that we might be cleansed of our self-dependence and become His again.
Only His blood is clean in this world of self-dependent people like me.
The good news is transfusions are available.
I’ll be in the line with you.
“Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
By the way, I thought it odd when this truck pulled up in my driveway this past Thursday:
The driver said, “Your wife called, Mr. Hague. You need to settle down, sir. You’re scaring your neighbors, also. Don’t make me take you in.”
Testosterone – the nectar of the gods!
P.S. My apologies for somehow having “comments” turned off in my last post. I received lots of comments about the lack of being able to leave a comment. This issue has been rectified by my IT department.
© Ed Hague. All rights reserved.