If you’re a regular reader you know that my faith in Jesus defines me. You know that my foundation is an ancient book that has shaped billions before me over thousands of years.
You also know I get frustrated by my Christian brothers and sisters who lose track of the plot and view themselves as judges rather than agents of Grace. We act as though behavior modification is the chief end and elevate our subjective lists of acceptible behaviors to dogma while turning a blind eye on our own shortcomings.
Why are we so quick to throw stones at others when Jesus took the stones that were meant for us? I don’t get it.
Experience shapes us. My transplant experience made me more compassionate, more patient and more determined. It changed my perspective in a lot of ways.
I went from workaholic to disibility in just a few short months. I went from being someone who felt like he controlled his own destiny to someone who better understands the fragility of humanity.
By July of 2011 my liver disease robbed me of my abilty to work. I went from primary breadwinner to contributing nothing but medical bills. My appointment calendar shifted from planning meetings at coffee shops and Panera bread to gastroenterologists, pulmenologists and hospitals.
My self esteem went down the drain. We men need to feel useful. We’re builders, doers and achievers. We don’t usually value relationship as much as women do. We tend to talk about stuff that is superficial while women share their hearts. I felt like I had nothing to talk about except my weakness.
In November 2011 I completed the paperwork to go on disibility. I was about as low as I had ever been. We had gone from the place where we were able to help others to awkwardly thanking strangers who dropped off Thanksgiving food boxes for us. Between all of them, we received 5 turkeys that November.
I was thankful. I knew we needed people to help us but I hated being in that position. I liked playing the rescuer. I did not like being the rescued.
Now I see the lesson in my weakness. My illness taught me humility. Before, I was a proud rescuer. I loved running in to help. I think I fed off my own feelings of pride. I wonder if the major part of my motivation was selfishness for the rush I got from being someone’s answer. “Wow, look how good I am.”
Was I motivated by compassion or was I motivated by needing to be needed? I wish I could say it was compassion.
It’s not like that anymore. My God used my suffering as the opportunity to teach me compassion. He softened the J in my ENTJ personality and reshaped me to an ESFP.
A few weeks back I was talking with a neighbor about a Christmas program here in Maine called the Bruce Roberts Fund. Each year it provides hundreds of children with presents under the tree.
While we were talking about making deliveries to some nice houses with nice cars in the yard and walking in and seeing large, high definition flatscreens and laptop computers on leather sectionals, my new perspective came to the forefront.
“We don’t know their stories,” I said. “We can’t judge their todays by their yesterdays.”
My mind went back to people dropping off Thanksgiving baskets at my 2400 square foot home with our three cars in the landscaped yard. Chances are my son was reclining on the Lazy Boy playing video games on a 60 inch projected screen with surround sound filling the room. The stuff of our yesterdays said nothing of our today. We accumulated all our stuff before I lost my income. We didn’t look like we were hurting at all.
I’m much slower to draw conclusions now. I am returning to a place of being able to help others again but my perspective and attitude is entirely different. The pride has been replaced with humility.
You’ve heard it said, “there, except by the Grace of God, go I?” It’s true.
We’re called to love. We’re called to serve.
Let’s drop the rocks and care enough to discover the today story.