Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How Christlike I am Not

On The Morning Cruise we've talked about Carmen's mom several times. The first weekend she was admitted to the hospital, my wife Kimberly and I were ready to drive to Tampa just to sit with Carmen, hold her hand. It's scary to watch your loved ones go through pain. We went through it in 2005 as my mother battled lung cancer. You don't need lots of well-wishers and miracle cures, you need a little understanding and a lot of support.

When Carmen's mom was diagnosed with MS, it soon became clear that their family would be looking at a drawn-out, daily wrestling rather than a definite cure and rehab. Since then, with failed treatments and a new strategy, starting today, using agressive and somewhat risky drugs, the battle has been worse than expected. And Carmen, strong as she is in her faith and character, is at times hanging by a thread emotionally.

You would think your closest friends, your teammates, would be able more than anyone to enter into your experience, feel your sufferings, empathize. But I find myself emotionally stunted, as I have so often in so many personal situations. In times when I should emulate Jesus, weeping at the tomb of Lazarus though he was about to raise him from the dead, I am like an emotional cripple. I've even faced this with my children, using the excuse at a tender moment when I feel their pain intellectually but not emotionally, "Daddy's cry-er is broken."

I'm sure this pychological phenomenon is ripe with possible pathologies. My disability probably has a name and is likely connected to my childhood in some way. But I'm not interested in that. It's also a pathology of sin, selfishness and a lack of Christ-imbued character. The bottom line is, I just want to be more like Christ, more naturally able to laugh or cry with Kimberly or Madison, able to feel the pain of a close friend like Carmen, rather than merely "understanding" it.

My friend Louis sent me a short, unrelated blog on the same subject. The Frost poem he referenced caught my attention (naturally!) and put these feelings into an exercise in self-examination. I boldfaced the two key lines:

I was leafing through my old book of Robert Frost's poetry last night, musing on the death of a friend from pancreatic cancer. I was drawn to "Out, Out", the title of which is taken from Macbeths' "Out, out brief candle" speech.

How cynical is Macbeth's speech! And in Frost's poem, the ending haunts... "And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs".

Our confidence is heaven, gained by Jesus sacrifice and the gift of faith is so out of congruence with the world. I think so much of the world lives as if our lives here are truly "a walking shadow... a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Do we live before men so that they can see the hope that is in us? Is Jesus making a visible change in our lives so that we give hope to those in despair?

These are the questions that come in such a time.