I’m at a week long “Mentor Training” with my company. We have focused a great deal of time on Millennials – as many new personnel are in that generation. I saw them called YOLOs and only found out yesterday what that stands for. Maybe most of you know, but I live in Africa! “You Only Live Once”
This week, it was funny for me to realize I was sitting in the ‘mature’ group when the ‘young people’ came as a panel for discussion. The young people want mentors, but don’t know how to ask or what that would look like. The old people don’t really know how to ‘be a mentor’ either. Some things it should not be, we all agree, is another task on our plate to juggle or box to check off. That in a company, it is very difficult to have ‘mentor-vision’: a mentor relationship combined with a supervision job expectation. Mentoring is perhaps done on a more casual – albeit intentional – way.
And another familiar statement was made again this week: about how in the recent 10-20 years all the little league kids get trophies, even the ones on the side-lines who never get out and actually make a play.
It got me to thinking about a side-line kind of life metaphor.
My family’s job is to be off the bench, on the front lines playing.
Many colleagues are in a rough field like American football, or the lonely track of a distance runner or swimmer, or in an understated game like chess that requires a great deal of planning and calculating of every move or conversation or risk literal knocking out of the game or worse.
Often the audience sits, watching, waiting, for the player to make a shot, make the time, make the great move. Then replay and talk about how their favorite player did such a great or lousy job or how the odds were stacked against them.
I have recently felt like I’ve been ‘sent to the bench’. Like a book that’s been useful and is now being put back up on the shelf. I’ve heard lots of times that the 3 big things that take my colleague out of ‘the game’ are problems in marriage, in team, or medical. We personally have dealt with marriage struggles, and both knew that ultimately we had a lot of control over what happens there. We have struggled with team issues – when we only could work on our side with no control over the other. And both were hard. Whether it’s all up to you to do what’s hard sometimes, or when half of it is unknown and not up to you. In so many life issues, it is our choice to learn how to die to self. And sometimes we do better with that than others. Millenials are termed selfish. We older ‘mature’ people may not show it so unabashedly, but we are all selfish too.
And now, it seems my little family is dealing with the last of the big three in that list: medical. And this one, we have so little control over.
The question that hangs is ‘will it take us out of this particular ‘game’?’ We have to wait how the plays go, how the moves are made, and a lot more is on the line than just a scoreboard or winning streak statistic. What will the team do if it looses some players? What will the players do if they loose their team?
I’ve been pretty mad, and sad, and resistant to being taken out of the game to sit on a bench for a while.
My girls ask me why I can’t just take good medicine and get better? Why did God do this or let this happen-for what purpose? Will I ever be able to do this or that again? The simple questions that they whisper out loud, and which I have to admit that I have screamed in silence.
My medicine is poison. I’ve finally gotten off all the 10 years of what we like to term ‘baby weight’: a silver lining to weight loss due to my body not liking taking poison. And now, I am forced to sitting around and eating bonbons. That sounds like fun, but not to someone who wants to be on the playing field and thought that was their position on the team.
So how do you sit on the bench when you thought your place was out with the team?
Or maybe for you the question is how to do more than just cheer from afar?
Or how do you keep up with a team when you have a secret problem?
Or how do you get those around you to respect you in your position?
Or how do you start really caring at all, really?
How desperate are you? Are we? Will we move from wallowing in the questions?
We have had 3 mornings of powerful encouragement at this conference from different men on our global team.
1 1. We have to die to self.
2 2. Be desperate
3 3. Pick up after hard times or failures or disappointments, allow grace in our lives, and get on with tending and feeding His sheep.
In His infinite grace, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”
He didn’t chastise for Peter only thinking of him-self and running to hide.
“….tend my sheep”
And two more times Jesus asked, “Do you love me?” ME: Jesus. Are you desperate for ME: Christ?
Yes? Then allow His grace and pick up from where you are and find your way to loving Him with all that is in you. And find your way to tend and feed.
God has shown me that I may be sent to the sidelines for a time, and that I won’t get a trophy for sitting around waiting and feeling sorry for myself. Even on this bench, He is calling me to be desperate for Him and to find some unique ways to still be part of the team. Part of the Body.
I don’t like it. My team doesn’t like it. But it’s not about me—really.
I think it is all about me…what if I get a secondary infection and can’t fight it?…what if this little poison doesn’t get me to where I need to get and I need more poison? What if this rest doesn’t work for me? Do you hear me God!?
The question above and around and foundationally is: Do you love me: Christ?
He has grace enough.
We need grace enough.
We need to extend grace,
encourage with grace,
and receive grace.
I have not mentioned yet what this medical issue is.
It is an auto-immune disease. My body has an over-active and confused immune system, such that it thinks my cartilage is enemy. So I attack my joints by destroying the cartilage which produces pain, swelling, and often disfiguring and irreversible damage. The treatments are aimed at lowering the immune system so that it stops attacking joints – to prevent full disability. The side effects other than a large number of aching joints are from the medicines themselves, and the risk of other infections that your body is not able to fight against.
Not being around sick people is important. Having good medical care is important. And getting a bothering amount of sleep is important for the body to recover every day. Being an $800 plane ticket away from a specialist is not high on the wanted list when things are still out of wack.
My goal is to get enough rest that hopefully will work in conjunction with my current medication and modified eating plan, and that will in turn get my system to settle down. In the past eight months, my swollen joint count has dropped from over 30 joints to under 20. That is the right direction, but not far enough.
This is Rheumatoid Arthritis.