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Feb 18

Lessons From Surgery

     Isn’t it interesting that life continues to give us regular challenges?  The only way to grow spiritual and relational muscle is to be pushed and tested.  As we are pushed we gain spiritual muscle.  We seem to be OK with that in the physical realm, but want to abandon it in the spiritual and relational realm.   We often take challenging circumstances in our lives, as proof that God really doesn’t love us.  If he was a loving God he would not let us go through painful things.

      So here is the choice when we face a tough situations.  Do we respond in the same old ways with the same old results or are we open to trying a new way that has the potential of yielding new results?  If we lock ourselves into the same old predictable responses it is proof that we aren’t growing in that area.  We give the same kind and level of effort and we get the same result.  Does this all sound too nebulus?  How about a real life example?

     I had surgery a couple of weeks ago, and as the time was drawing near that I should be cut open, Linda and I were discussing how much time off I was going to take.  She said “It would be nice to have you help with homeschooling the kids while you are recovering.”  Now I could have tried a new way at this point and avoided a lot of pain for both of us, but  I proceeded to inform her that I only had 2 remaining sick days and that any additional time would have to be vacation time.  (Someone has said when you find yourself informing your wife, you know your are bound for trouble) I assured her that I would take off enough time that I would ensure a good recovery.  I was surprised at Linda’s response, she was upset at the way I was responding.  Now at this point I had the chance to change course and try a different approach, but I didn’t.  I continued to inform her of all the reasons why what I had arranged was what needed to happen, and raised my voice for emphasis.  I don’t know what I was thinking maybe if I talked louder and with more emphasis she would understand what I was saying.  That second pass with the same approach didn’t work to well either, it only fanned the smoldering coals into flames.  We really came to an impass.  Now to show you how entrenched I can be we had at least 2 and maybe 3 conversations about this, and I used the same approach in all three, with the same end result.  Linda ended up feeling that work and it’s constraints are more important than she is. 

     After our third rough conversation about this, we went to bed, she fell right off to sleep but sleep didn’t come to me because there was no resolution to this issue.  The fact that she fell asleep easily even annoyed me a bit.  Here I was the one having surgery and I was the one missing sleep.  If she could just see my point, I would be sleeping too.  Sometimes it takes considerable pain to convince me that I need to change.  I recognized the road I was heading down and decided that there would be no to “thumb sucking.”  I finally decided that I wasn’t going to brood and think through all my arguments, again,  I wasn’t going to get more upset with Linda, I wanted to know a different way.  So I made a choice to turn off some of the conversations in my head and started crying out “God I need revelation.  What I am doing is not working and there is a good way through this, show me wisdom in this situation.”  Sleep finally came to me, I slept the night, and woke up early.  I still didn’t feel like I had new revelation but I spent some time thinking about the things that Linda had said as we were processing the situation.  Then it hit me, she wanted me to care for her in the situation.  She spends day after day diligently schooling the children and it is a heavy load, she was looking forward to a break.  She was also worried that I would rush back to work as soon as I could and then come home worn out and grouchy.  So I decided to take another pass at the issue.  I apologized for the way the conversation had gone the evening before.  I told her that I had really missed what was on her heart.  “You were looking forward to a break from your heavy responsibility, and you wanted assurance from me that I was considering you in the whole process.  My responses showed you that I really didn’t know what was going on in your heart.  I don’t know how I can be so dense sometimes and miss the really important things.  I am so sorry that I missed you so badly.”  You know what that different approach began to take a bit of the sting out of the wound.  I wish I could say that it worked like magic and everything is now totally resolved, but that wouldn’t be true.  You see I have such a history of incidents, where I have totally missed her. I now have a lot of undoing to do.  What did happen is that I validated her feelings and our talk together that morning didn’t erupt, but instead the tension about the upcoming surgery eased a bit.  So different approach, different result.  And you know what it didn’t cost me anything.  When I was entrenched in the argument I thought there was a great cost to backing up and taking another look.  The real truth is that that path has a much greater cost.  When you invest in pride you reap a whirlwind.

     What floors me is how much time it took me to realize what was really going on.  I was looking for a different way, but was slipping back into seeing it as Linda’s fault.  How could I stay stuck in the rut for such a long period of time?  My flesh had set me up, I had let my surgery become all about me, and that was my focus.  She needed to support me because I was the one who was going to get cut.  I was brooding in anxiousness, while pretending not to be anxious.  I was running away from my fears and pretending that they weren’t there.  When I shut my heart off to the anxiety, I also shut out the ability to feel and care for Linda and the children.

     God really is faithful when we ask for wisdom.  It does require us to lay down our pride, and fight the ungodly thought patterns that are entrenched in our heads.  When we give up our arguments he is free to come and impart wisdom.  Boy do I need to walk this out more frequently.

 

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