Month: July 2014

To Know Me is to Know My Struggle

Many years ago, I believed if I just had enough counseling I could overcome my dysfunction and be a normal person. Now don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in therapy. And when you come from severe dysfunction, sometimes it’s your only hope. But it’s not like taking a pill when you have an infection. Therapy doesn’t just make it all go away.

And who wants to get counseling when it forces you to look at yourself. For in that looking, you see all the ways you self-destruct your own life and those around you.

For most of my adult life, I’ve fought against my own dysfunction. To know me, is to know my struggle. I’m outspoken, controlling, and driven to get my own way. And I don’t struggle in silence. I tend to openly reveal my battles, and I expect others to do the same. To me, intimacy involves a deep down sharing of the wars that rage inside us. I believe it’s where I begin to understand you and you begin to understand me.

And in that understanding, deep relationships bloom. For if I know the source of your struggle, and I see you fighting against it, I can respect you. I can join you in your fight. And cheer you on to victory.

It’s true, the closer someone is, the greater they can hurt you. That’s always the risk. Let someone in, and the pain door flings wide open. But when I know your challenges, it makes it easier for me to apply grace.

On the flip side, I don’t share my struggles so other’s can use them against me. I don’t reveal them as fuel for someone to build up their own distorted view of themselves.

Over the years, many well-meaning folks have tried to fix me. I guess it goes with the territory of having a soap opera caliber life. Perhaps it makes them feel better to help a sloppy soul like mine. But their pity makes me feel worthless. I wanted friendship, but it was clear that was never their goal.

It’s so cliché to say life is not fair. But there’s no phrase that says it better. I celebrate those who had great childhoods. It’s wonderful your dad invested in you or your mom was the model for June Cleaver. Maybe you’re not a self-saboteur like me. But I’d almost bet you struggle with pride.

That’s what’s so great about Christ. He never let anyone off the hook. We all have something to own in this great big battle against sin. And our only job is to turn around and take a look at ourselves. Examine our own hearts. It’s all there waiting for us to unravel.

But there’s nothing like great friends who are willing to chug alongside us as we face the worst parts of ourselves.


My Chugging Friends, Ginni and Dian




I’m Selfish – How About You?


For my entire adult life, she’s never been more than a phone call away. And call her I did. She was the first to learn Daniel was arrested. The first one told Tim had cancer. Over the phone we celebrated all my life’s accomplishments. And we cried over all my challenges.

For the past 50 some years, I’ve spent hours pouring my heart out to her, knowing she’d not only understand, but also give me a perspective to help me to grow.

So it’s hard to watch Aunt Jeanne Marie struggle with dementia. It’s hard to adjust when she forgets who she’s talking to. It’s painful when she knows it. And when she gets upset, my heart aches.

Aging is hard. And to think my whole life it’s gone on around me. But in the selfishness of my youth, I’ve looked the other way. I wasn’t around as my grandparent’s aged. And both my parent’s died relatively young. So much of this journey is new to me.

But I’ve been calloused toward the aging. I’ve not noticed their struggle, or been mindful that I could possibly help.

I guess it’s human nature, or maybe it’s our youth obsessed culture. We enter this world with guns a blazing. We wail like mad at the first hint of our need. We’re like the two-year-old on the toilet when an earthquake rumbles who asks his mother, “What did I do?” We would never say it out loud, but we do think the world revolves around us.

But God has a way of pulling us back in. Of reminding us there’s a reason the weak shall inherit the earth. That deep down satisfaction comes when we give ourselves away. That self-centeredness is the fastest route to self-destruction. Aging has a way of bringing it all back around. Of teaching us how helpless we really are.

AJM & Her Girls 2I cherish my Aunt Jeanne Marie. And to me, she will always be that 30 something beauty that stepped into my life after my father died. And I don’t care if today she thinks I’m her sister Josephine, or that Uncle Eugene is Uncle Lewis. I’ll just roll with it for as long as she’s willing to talk.

For my hope lies in the truth that God is in the business of making all things new. And for those of us who put our trust in Christ, we will all get new bodies. And one day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. But in the mean time, God is preparing a place for my Aunt Jeanne Marie. A place with no more tears, no more death, and no more dying.

And to that I say, come Lord Jesus, come.