I was brought up in a culture that said, “Chet, no one’s going to give you anything. You have to go out, work hard and get it yourself.” I’m grateful that my Mom and Dad taught me self-reliance, self-motivation, not to mention that bigger and faster is always better. Heck, I didn't wait for school to learn how to read, I taught myself. Using the best, high quality literature available (TV Guide) I sat down and figured it out. By watching TV along with the list of shows and descriptions, I walked into first grade reading quite easily. The down side to this was all the “See Dick and Jane” books seemed trivial and boring.
These values have served me well in my career. After my initial computer technology education back in the day of wired boards, punch cards and paper tape, I’ve worked hard to stay up-to-date. Other than the keyboard layout, virtually everything has changed many times over when it comes to technology. Reading everything I can get my hands on and talking to experts, I’m current on the latest Apple iPhone/iPad, Google Android and Internet cloud technologies (at least until they change in the next fifteen minutes).
Yes, I’d really rather do it myself. That was my mantra. There was even an Anacin commercial where a really frustrated woman screamed at her mother those immortal words, “Mother, please, I’d rather do it myself.” And for certain things it’s OK.
For example, never reading or receiving any instruction, I started changing the oil in my car. I mean, after all, how difficult could it be? How big of a mess could I make? The answers were “Big” and “Really Big.” After draining the oil and taking out the old oil filter, I put on the new oil filter, replaced the drain plug, filling the engine with the right amount of new oil. How could I screw that up.
Oh, I forgot to mention one small detail…
When I was installing the new oil filter, it slipped and fell to the street. I picked it up and easily screwed it into place. It never crossed my mind to look at the filter and see if the rubber gasket was still attached. Well, it wasn’t, it got knocked off in the fall so there was nothing to keep the oil inside.
Starting the engine, I made a 3-point turn in my neighbor’s driveway when I noticed smoke and a burning smell. Knowing that something was wrong, I turned off the engine and ran to look under the car only to see all my oil was now seeping into my neighbor’s driveway. Needless to say, our friendship was tested that day with this unexpected “anointing” of his property.
I still like to do things myself, even when it comes to medical procedures. Because of my genetic background, I have numerous small “tag” moles all over my body. At the annual physical, my doctor looks at these tags and assures me that there is nothing to be concerned about. However, one of these tags is continuously being irritated because it’s in a sensitive area between two appendages that is very difficult to see.
You guessed it, this week I decided it was time to do something about it. Getting out a small, sharp pair of scissors, I boiled them for 15 minutes on the stove. I then cleaned my hands and the “area” with lots of alcohol. Grabbing the tag with one hand, I pulled and extended it out and “snip” – it was off. The pain wasn’t all that bad; it wasn't nearly as much as when I bit off a wart on my wrist.
I was well prepared for the ensuing bleeding; I even had an anti-hemorrhagic agent (something to help stop the bleeding). Applying firm and steady pressure I thought I was home free – not. After about 5 minutes I thought it would be safe to remove the paper towel and apply a bandage. But the hole left from the tag was still bleeding, and we’re not just talking about a few drips here and there. As the blood started to run down one of my appendages, I put on more of the stuff to stop the bleeding and got another paper towel, this time I applied pressure for 10 minutes. I then repeated the process for another 15 minutes – same results.
About this time I was beginning to wonder if I had cut off more than I could handle, literally. Holding the paper towel with one hand, I was able to get to a phone and call my doctor with great difficulty (thinking back on it, this must have been a sight that would have gone viral on YouTube.) After explaining what was going on, or should I say what had come off, he calmly reassured me that everything was going to be ok. Apparently, tags have lots of blood vessels and this kind of bleeding is common. He told me to just continue holding pressure on it for 20 minutes or so and the bleeding should stop. Carefully following the doctor’s advice, it did stop bleeding – eventually.
I now blog to you, tag free! No more irritation; but at what price? While I survived, was it the right thing to do? It wasn’t a matter of whether or not I “could” do it, it’s was more of a questions of “should” I have done it.
Looking back, I bet we could all ask ourselves the same question, but not about a small mole. We made a choice that probably did not involve scissors, but there certainly was cutting and pain followed by a long period of bleeding. The healing and scar are most likely invisible. It happens to all of us, even great people of faith.
Peter, the leader of Jesus’ followers, made a H-U-G-E mistake. When confronted, he broke down crying and ran away. After his resurrection, Jesus sought Peter out, talked with him, bringing forgiveness and restoration. At the end of this amazing conversation, Jesus’ final words hit us right where we live; “You follow me” (1).
Yes, we are all damaged goods. Yes, we all have hurts; some are still bleeding. Yes, we all have scars. And when we try and heal ourselves, the results can be more pain.
But Jesus wants to be our “wounded healer.” He wants to comfort, console and care for us. He wants to clean and heal our injury, but we have a part to play. Our part is to follow. Follow is one of those strange actions that never happen all at once, when you follow it always takes time. And follow is never done alone, it always requires someone else.
So, if you are emotionally or relationally wounded, broken, bruised, bleeding; the answer is to come to Jesus and start following. He does not ask us to clean ourselves up first, fill out an application to see if we are worthy or not. No, we are to come and follow from right where we are. And through following, we begin the healing process with his help.
Blessing – Chet
Chet Gladkowski writes and speaks on practical topics that touch culture, life and faith.
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(1) John 21:22