…has been my word for a long time. Every once in a while when I realize I’m in a horrible tail-spin of attitude and annoyance (frustration) I try to figure out when it all started. The first time I remember really throwing a fit was when I was in seventh grade. I have no doubt there were plenty of other times, but this is just the first one I can recall that was very much “flesh”. I wanted a Nintendo – who didn’t. (BTW, that?s the original Nintendo…) And I had actually been saving money for it. But, one Sunday afternoon I was doing what any kid would do that just moved to a small farm with his family – I was playing in the barn breaking old sticks. Well, one of them broke (after all I was breaking them) and a couple of splinters got in my eye.
After a few hours of mom telling me to “lay down on the couch and it will go away, I’m sure nothings in your eye anymore…”, I finally convinced her that something was indeed still in there. So, off to the hospital on a Sunday evening. After a long wait (and yes, my eye hurt very badly with every movement) a doctor pulled out three splinters – once of which was at least a quarter inch long. Good news is that the eye is the fastest healing organ in the body (according to the doctor) and I was on my way looking like a pirate with a patch on my eye.
Well, on the way home mom needed to stop by Hills, a pre-WalMart type store that was the “go to” place in town. And there it was, the Nintendo. Somehow in my little seventh grade mind I knew that I had an advantage here. I had just gotten splinters take out of my eye, had a patch on it and was looking pretty sad. So I struck – the little selfish, fleshy Ryan emerged. My mother, the poster-mom for being frugal with money (which I am now VERY thankful for!) resisted. And so the fit started to well up. In the middle of the store I remember my mother almost not having a choice. Of course she did, but I remember making it pretty hard. I think that I even pulled out the “but I just got splinters out of my eye” line.
I walked out of Hills with my Nintendo.
And it went on from there. Within the next few months, because I was the smallest kid in class and the “city slicker” that had just moved to the valley, I was “beat up” more and more – usually starting in home room when the teacher wasn’t there yet. Twisted arms, pulled backs, fat lips. I could feel the frustration growing. It also happened that at about the same time I began to be molested by a family friend for the better part of two years. Talk about being frustrated and feeling helpless. I think Satan knew exactly what he was doing.
Here’s the thing though, that’s all nearly 20 years ago now. There have been many ways I’ve dealt with all of those things. Most of the time I can honestly say that I don’t believe they effect me day to day. But over the last few days, I’m once again realizing that I still haven’t gotten over it. In most everything I do, in most of my reactions, I’m still the little kid that needs to prove himself to be better then everyone, more of a man than I assume people see me – to put up with my annoyances and my complaints… as if they were the most important things for everyone to deal with. In a word (or three) – me, me, me.
Man, it really sucks when you come face to face with it again (and again, and again…)
So, through my latest round of me, me, me – Laura and I have been talking about it. Well, I’ve been frustrated and angry about it, Laura has been talking. She puts up with a lot. But the end result is that God has given her great wisdom to speak hard truth. The biggest one of all being…
I do not have a teachable spirit. (THUD)
I am generally not of a humble nature (double THUD)
And she’s right. When it comes to most of the things around me, no matter how much I really do want to become a stronger man of faith, or the Word, of truth – I just assume I know better than everyone else. Well, that’s not completely true. Just most of the people that are in direct authority over me. There’s always a better speaker out there with the ideas that I really want to emulate. But that just gets me frustrated that they’re somewhere else other than here. Which leaves me with CDs and podcasts, one sermon at a time. But man, I want to interact with these people on a consistent basis. Surely if I could be under someone like “them” – my life would really start to take off. I?d lead my family with all encompassing godly authority that would be the awe of everyone I come in contact with. My words would be insightful and truthful – I’d expound on the Word of God with authority unseen by most people.
Wait a minute!! Just wait a minute!! That might not be true!! (thud again…). Turns out that I’m am where God has put me for a reason. I’m in the workplace and church and town that God has ordained for this time. I have amazing, Godly friends that God has ordained for this time. I have the family, and hopes for my family, that God has ordained for this time. And believe it or frickn’ not, I have the CDs and podcasts that God has ordained for this time. What I seem to be lacking is the spirit of Christ that God has ordained for my lifetime. Yes, I know without a doubt that I have salvation through the author of Life and the death of His Son on the cross for my sins. But in eleven years of being a Christian I have continually neglected to submit myself to the work Christ would have me do to become the man he greatly desires I be. I know that because if I was doing it, I wouldn’t care if I was the best, greatest, smartest or even coolest guy in the room (or church).
The end of all this (kind of funny to type something and realize that very few people will ever read this…) is that it’s time to anti up – to humility. I’m 100% sure that without an overwhelming change of heart resulting in a humble spirit – I will not be a teachable man. Which means I will never reach the potential or dreams that Christ has for my life, the life of my family or the life of those around me. It has nothing to do with me being pivotal in any of those realms necessarily (God can overcome my lack of contribution in spite of me) – but it would be much better if I were in a place to play my part.
If I really “believe”, there are a few things that will happen:
- I will walk what I talk and realize that nothing (work, exercise, computers, home projects… even family) is as important as my maturity in Christ. All of those things (starting with my family) will be enriched to untold degrees when my maturity in Christ is in continual forward motion.
- I must realize that there are plenty of men that Christ has placed in my life that have much to teach me. Some the deep digging apart of Scripture, some the ways I need to grow as a man, husband and father, and some how to just have fun.
- Wherever I feel the “teaching” is not complete, I must seek out every opportunity to get more. As Laura cleverly suggested last night, I might simply start by emailing a few of the men I have listened to (CDs and podcasts) and try and start a dialog with them.
- I will seek counsel and accountability from close friends that will lovingly kick me in the butt when I am not approaching my life with a humble and teachable spirit.
- God will use me to lead other men – not for my own reward – but for the purpose of passing on the Truth He desires for each of us to lead our families and to live in contrast to the world around us.
So, let’s see where this goes from here. While I think about it and hopefully keep my thoughts updated, check out one of the men I’ve been listening to lately. (definitely look at the YouTube stuff)