(Mental) State Of The Nation

I’ve spent an unusual amount of time on Facebook the past three days. I wish I could say it has been an enjoyable experience, but the only thing I can liken it to is standing by and watching a train wreck. Everyone was just crashing into each other. There was no good end to anything. It just felt like … death.

taylor-swift-pressurizes-apple-to-reverse-apple-music-dealOf course, there is no shortage of things to talk about on social media these days. The Confederate flag. Gay marriage. Taylor Swift and Apple. (Okay, that last one, not so much, but there is some stuff going down there.) Instead of talking, though, most people just snipe at each other. Proponents of homosexual marriage love how the “haters” got it stuck to them. Southerners try to play up the heritage aspect of the Confederate flag. Everyone is convinced they’re correct. No one allows that they might be wrong. It’s an online shouting match.

I have my share of personal beliefs, just like anyone else, and I can certainly understand passion in people regarding the issues of the day. Everyone wants to leave this earth believing they made a difference, and being a part of a social movement is something everyone dreams of. They can say they helped, literally, change the world. Occasionally, passion may trump logic, but it is undeniable that the force of a public tidal wave of opinion is something people not only can be caught up in, but also want to be caught up in.

I am concerned about our nation, though, and it has nothing to do with what flags are flying where or who is marrying whom. I am concerned because there is a growing cloud of darkness over the American psyche today which threatens to plunge our culture into a new age of violence, hate, and depression.

Several years ago, I stopped listening to conservative talk radio. It wasn’t that I necessarily disagreed with the opinions being expressed there; rather, it was the tone of everything. Conservatives had all the right ideas, and liberals wanted to submerge the country in darkness forever. That was pretty much the basis of every discussion I heard. And I got mad at liberals. I would get to work after listening to one of these shows and not want to talk to anyone. That’s when I realized I had gone beyond anger, maybe even beyond hate. I had fallen into some type of abyss, and there was nothing good there at all.

I feel us all sliding into that abyss today, and for those already predisposed to darker moods, there may not be any Peacecamp&downhillestatejuly21st012-1way back. I have been down this weekend, and I feel heavy inside. That heaviness then begins to spread into the doubts and fears and anxieties I wrestle with on a daily basis. My mood begins to be colored in a different way, and soon I begin to let hopelessness creep in. For me, this means a deepening depression. For those disposed to violence, though, or those who possess great anger, where does it lead them? And do the hopeful become bitter? Where are we going?

I was reading an interesting article this weekend about the suicide rate in Belgium. Doctors are permitted to assist with suicides for all different types of reasons in Belgium, including non-terminal conditions such as bipolar disorder, anorexia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. According to the World Health Organization, Belgium ranks 17th internationally on the list of suicides per 100,000 people per year. By contrast, the United States ranks 50th. My theory is this: When a nation expresses a willingness to condone taking one’s own life, its citizens follow suit. Therefore, if a nation projects depression and conflict, it stands to reason its citizens will feel the darkening mood.

Maybe I should get away from social media, television, everything where an opinion might be expressed. Then again, this is America, and those opinions have a right to be heard. I just wish it could be done in a way where sides are not so starkly chosen and battle lines are not so plainly drawn. The thought of us hacking each other to pieces is a depressing one indeed.

An Open Letter To You

openletterThis is for you.

I owe you a giant apology.

I have lied to you. I have hidden things from you.

I have stolen from you. I have taken things that did not belong to me.

I have denied the truth when it suited me. I have hidden because I did not want to face reality.

I have hurt you beyond measure. I have no excuse for this.

Why have I done all these things? Simple: I am selfish. I am so absorbed in my own head and my own life that I failed to see beyond the parameters of my own existence. I loved you, but it was within the confines of my own space. I wanted to help you, but it was always with an eye on what I could get out of it. Even now, as I type this, notice how many times I refer to myself.

And who are you? You are the person who trusted me. You are the person who believed in me. You are the person who loved me. You are the person who encouraged me. You could be a great number of people. You know who you are.

I say this to you: I am sorry.

I realize that you have absolutely no reason to forgive me for any of this. I was even so bold as to point out the splinter in your eye when there was a huge plank in mine. I can only beg your forgiveness and try to remind you that beneath all this ugliness is a person you once cared for. He is still here. I ask you to give him another chance.

Much of what I did, I thought I did for you. It was always through the lens of me, though. For us to work, it has to be us. I cannot be untruthful with you anymore. I cannot place my needs above yours. I cannot doubt myself and throw up walls to distract from the real issues at hand. In short, I can never benefit you so long as I am so wrapped up in me.

I am writing this to you because whether you were aware of it or not, I damaged something between us. I hope it can be repaired, but I have to accept that it may never be what it was before. I can only move on now and attempt to regain your trust. You are what is important to me now. I have seen the damage I can inflict. I am sick of me.

This is for you.

Super Weird, Part II

Oh, America, America. What has happened to you?

I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. I mean, it’s been this way for years and years now. The ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, even during this young century: Everyone is looking for love. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to give love to someone else. Everyone just wants everyone to love each other. Love, love, love.

It’s always the funniest commercials that usually make the headlines the morning after the Super Bowl is played, and those are usually the ones which leave people talking the longest. Every year has its share of serious spots as well. Oddly enough, some of the most touching commercials in recent years have been advertisements for beer, although other companies struck a more gentle tone this year as well.

1422463197_budweiser-lost-dog-zoomMacDonald’s is encouraging people to pay for their food at the restaurant “with love.” A computer tech spilling a bottle of Coca-Cola inspired all kinds of thoughtful acts in an ad for the soda company. Numerous commercials touted the noble attributes of family and fatherhood. And then, of course, there was that adorable little Budweiser puppy dog being rescued from a pack of wolves by a herd of thundering Clydesdales. Even the horses were showing love.

There’s nothing wrong with love. It’s great. It’s fantastic. Close-knit families, kind human beings, even affectionate animals are all wonderful things.

They’re just not enough. They’ve never been enough. And they’re not ever going to be enough.

That was my pervading thought as I watched all these messages of love flash across the television screen in front of me. We live in a love-starved world. It’s a vacuum we are all desperately trying to fill. My question would be, though, if we have been promoting love for all this time, in so many creative and different and uplifting ways, why is it not taking hold? Why do we all still seem to be so lacking in it, and why do we still feel the need to promote it, as if our message is going to resound differently than the million that came before it?

We are running from God. We are running from the only love that can save us. We’ve been running from Him forever, decade after decade after decade, thinking we can replace His place in our hearts with just enough of this or just enough of that. It’s folly.

I am certainly not going to disparage anyone from promoting peace and love, especially considering the heinous acts human beings perpetrate on each other on a daily basis. Love needs to be shouted from the rooftops every chance we get, even during the Super Bowl. It’s an incomplete message, though, and it’s going to keep missing the mark until we understand that in order to love fully we have to turn to the one who loved us first.

I applaud every company which used its advertising dollars for this year’s Super Bowl to promote positive, encourage messages aimed at making this world a better place to live in. They can’t make us love God, though. We’re the only ones that can do that. He’s still waiting. Why are we?

The Myths Of Me

I would consider my teenage years to be largely wasted ones. I have no way of knowing, but I believe the depression I wrestle with today had me firmly in its grip even back then. It’s not that I don’t remember any happy times at all, but I don’t remember many that weren’t overlapped by the shadows that lurked in my mind. There was lots of confusion, anger, and sadness, even more than the usual teen mind is able to muster.

As a result, I formed a lot of perceptions about myself which were almost entirely negative. My self-esteem was virtually non-existent. These beliefs about myself were so powerful that I carried a large majority of them into adulthood. In fact, most days I feel as I’ve hardly grown at all over the years. This is who I thought I was then and, on many days, who I believe I am now:

– Unattractive physically
– Shy and awkward
– Immature emotionally
– Talentless
– Unappealing to the opposite sex
– Too skinny
– Not athletic enough
– Unable to obtain what I wanted
– Unsure of what I wanted to do with my life

All of this doesn’t even take into account the fact that I had what was termed a “nervous stomach,” which caused me all kinds of embarrassment. Or that my hair curled at puberty and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to make it look like anything. Or that I had the usual teenage bad skin and acne. I did the typical fast food job all teenagers these days get, and I was a miserable failure at it. I couldn’t even work at Wendy’s.

true falseI had a chance to take a long walk by myself today. The sun was out, my schedule was clear, and I was itching to get in some kind of physical activity, so I took off. I have always struggled with what is God’s voice and what is the voice I generate with my own thoughts, so I hesitate saying God spoke to me today, but as I walked I began to think about how I still view myself in much the same way I did back then … and how much of that is wrong.

One by one, counterarguments began to present themselves against what I have believed about myself for so long. I am not confident enough to say my life changed today, but I knew by the end of that walk that I needed to get to a computer or piece of paper and write down everything that had come into my mind. Here, then, are some arguments against my own perceptions of and beliefs about myself:

Unattractive physically – I found a woman who found me attractive enough to marry me, and we have been together now for 16 years. I’ve cut out most of the sugar from my diet and hardly ever drink carbonated beverages anymore, so I rarely get pimples now. I grew a beard and keep my hair cut short, so it looks neat now.
Shy and awkward – I still struggle mightily with social anxiety, but I couldn’t even count the number of people I have met over the years. I have so many friends now that I never would have dreamed of meeting. I know lots of people through my job.
Not athletic enough/Too skinny – I can ride my bicycle ten miles at a time on the road. I don’t have a gut hanging over the front of my pants like so many guys my age. An antidepressant and an occasional pill for seasonal allergies are the only medications I take, whereas I know so many of my friends already on blood pressure medication. I’m thinner now than when I graduated college.
Talentless – I can play guitar and bass fairly well. I won a Kentucky Press Award when I worked as a newspaper reporter. I have over 150 followers on this blog, and it’s only been up a few months. I’m on the radio every day. I can even sing a little.
Unsure of what I want to do with my life – After going to counseling for my depression the past couple of years, I have decided I want to pursue a Masters degree in counseling. I am currently studying to take the GRE test to get into graduate school.

I should have written all of the things I was thinking down immediately, because I’m certain there were more. I realized my stomach isn’t upset as much anymore because I realized years ago I was slightly lactose intolerant. All those cartons of milk in school were tearing my stomach to bits. And the list goes on…

I still feel as if I have so many things mentally to overcome. I still live in the same town I grew up in, so sometimes it seems as if I’ll never escape what others will always believe about me, no matter how much I change or grow. I still feel so out of place sometimes, and you probably noticed I didn’t address everything I had listed concerning how I felt about myself. I don’t want to be who I was anymore, though. I can’t ever reclaim those lost years; all I can do is make an attempt to make the ones I have left count for something. I hope and pray I can hold onto what I was thinking on that walk today. I’m so afraid I’ll forget.

Maybe I should start reading my own blog.

Not Enough?

I turned 40 years old in April of this year, and we all know what that means: I’m at that age. When the eyesight starts to fade a little more. When the physical prowess begins to decline. When the luster of the job begins to wear off. When, theoretically, half of a man’s life is over, which means two dreaded words…

Midlife … crisis.

midlifeI actually do plan on writing about this subject a little more in-depth here in the future, but for this particular post I only introduce it to bring up a line I noticed in a book I was recently reading: Men in Midlife Crisis, by Jim Conway. I checked the book out of a local library just before Christmas, and, unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish reading it, but what I managed to get through was quite insightful. In fact, I may have to add it to my own personal library at some point in the future.

As expected, the book contains plenty of discussion on affairs, a hallmark of many men’s midlife periods. I’m certainly not going to explore that subject here, but I was struck by something Conway wrote about it. Observe the following paragraph on attempting to end an affair:

I have helped both Christians and non-Christians through the painful disengagement process. None of these people has been willing to disengage simply because of the clear moral teaching of scripture – “You must not commit adultery.” Nor have any of these midlife men been convinced to disengage because of obligations to their families or previous commitments. It is my experience that people are only ready to disengage from an affair if the dissatisfaction level rises high enough so that the couple feels there is greater stress and less satisfaction than what they had hoped for.

A local Bible teacher who passed away earlier this year used to have a saying: God plus nothing equals everything. There’s the principle of sola scriptura, the sufficiency of scripture. There’s even an old Southern Gospel song that says, “When Jesus says it’s enough, it’ll be enough.” What gets us to Jesus and draws us into scripture, though? There has to be some breaking point where we just say, “Okay, I’ve had enough. This is just not working anymore. I’m done.”

I’m not trying to say that Jesus cannot lift us out of any situation, or that scripture is somehow not sufficient to instruct us on how to live our lives correctly. God, after all, parted the Red Sea and formed man from the very dust of the Earth. In many instances of life, though, we have to come to a place where we decide the path we are on is vastly inferior to the one He wants to take us on. We have to see in real life that our decisions aren’t working and our habits are harmful to us and we need to make a change.

It almost feels blasphemous to even suggest it, but sometimes what works isn’t enough. Sometimes the strain of what is not working has to become so great that we are spurred to action. Things have to become intolerable sometimes to make us want to change. I wrote here Friday about the insanity of how I stubbornly refuse to give up certain habits that only worsen my depression. I’m beginning to notice a life principle here: Getting sick of a situation or a behavior is often the only way to begin the process of getting rid of it.

So as the new year rapidly approaches, if you’re hearing that tiny voice in your head saying, “This isn’t worth it anymore,” maybe you should give it a listen. It might be prompting you toward the answer that really is enough.

Tuneful Tuesday: Sticking With You

Let’s face it: Friendship can be hard sometimes. Friendship with someone who wrestles with depression can be darn near impossible. We’re moody, sensitive, easily offended, prone to wide swings of emotion, and largely incapable of expressing what we want in understandable terms. We can be clingy while seeming to do everything in our power to drive you away. In general, we can be a real pain in the butt.

You know what, though? You ain’t always a picnic to be around either.

So I guess we’re stuck with each other, you and me. We might at as well try to make the best of things. In reality, I’m not nearly as annoying as I think I am, and you’re not nearly as judgmental of me as I think you are. We just need to learn what makes the other one tick. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re going to get it wrong, and we’ll probably wind up crossways with each other. The question then becomes this: Are we going to stand by each other even when we seem more like enemies than friends?

The sad truth is that sometimes relationships reach the point of no return, where they become so toxic they’re more harmful to maintain than to just let go. Other times, though, you find that glimmer of hope that makes everything worth fighting for. That glimmer is what this song – “Sticking With You,” by Addison Road – is all about.

“You can cry, you can fight, you can scream and shout/I’ll push and pull until your walls fall down.” No one really wants to thing about fighting, screaming, or shouting with their friends. Of course, spouses probably don’t get married with the intention of ever fighting with each other either, yet it still happens. Love sparks intense feelings, and even friendly love can boil over from time to time. “And you understand I’m gonna be around…”

Yeah, it’s difficult to stick with each other sometimes. You give me a little leeway, though, and I’ll give you the same. “I might let you down, but I won’t let you go…”

The Petulant Child

No man enjoys being treated like a child. Well, okay, maybe some men do, but that’s an entirely different issue. In fact, that’s probably something to be discussed on an entirely different blog.

At any rate, we men are a prideful lot, and as a general rule we don’t particularly like being told what to do, particularly if we feel we are being talked down to in some way. Of course, the irony is that we men can also be grossly immature and quite often place ourselves in positions where someone has to step in and keep us from completely wrecking ourselves and those around us. It’s no wonder a large majority of us have legendary stories of breaking things (Mine involves a pane of glass on a car port door.); we don’t know whether to be sorry or indignant, so we just wind up pissed off.

So what’s a guy to do when he gets cornered like this? I’ll tell you my first impulse: Start swinging. I don’t mean literally throwing punches (Again, another topic for an entirely different blog…), but rather getting up on my haunches and defending my right to do whatever the hell I feel like doing. I don’t like being nagged, pushed, or cajoled. Case in point: Two days ago, my wife sent me a video on how smartphones and social media are actually eroding society’s ability to connect with each other (I would like to point out, however, that this video was sent to me through Facebook.). I knew she had been concerned about how much time I spend on my phone, so when I received the video I felt harassed. “Well, I ain’t watchin’ that,” I thought.

The reality is, though, that I probably do spend too much time on my smart phone. I joked shortly after getting my first Android phone that gollumhaving it in my pocket was akin to carrying around the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. Even if I wasn’t using it, I was kind of fiddling with it in my pocket. I did stop short of calling it “my precioussss,” but there weren’t many times of the day I was without it. I switched to an iPhone two weeks ago, and I seem to be even more obsessed with it than the first phone. I should be living in caves and eating raw fish any day now at this rate.

Suggestions have trickled in here and there. “Maybe you shouldn’t keep the phone in the bathroom.” “Maybe you could find a different place to charge the phone.” “Do you have to use the phone right now?” Okay, so that last one wasn’t a suggestion, but to my ears there wasn’t much of a difference tonally from the first two. “You are out of control, and I need to tell you what to do.” That’s what my man ears were hearing, and I was ready to fight. “I can carry my phone wherever I please.” And so on and so forth…

One of my arguments against all this was that every suggestion seemed to paint me as some type of petulant child who couldn’t be trusted without proper supervision. Again, though, irony being what it is, I’ve actually proven several times lately that I can’t be trusted in certain situations. When someone steps in to tell me that, however, my independent streak kicks in. “I can handle this. It’s not that bad. Just back off.”

I think the worst part of all this, though, is the embarrassment for the man. He’s supposed to have it all together, be the family leader, be the rock that doesn’t falter. He’s supposed to be able to conquer addictions and problems and whatever else that comes along. He’s not supposed to have to be told he’s out of control or needs help or isn’t doing the best job. It’s humiliating to have someone sit you down to correct you or tell you you need help, so we lash out, blindly defending ourselves. We want to hang on to our dignity, even though we have this sneaking suspicion we may actually be in the wrong.

This is a ready-made, perfect recipe for depression because everything at its base screams failure. People with depression generally feel as if they’re failing at everything anyway, so instances like these often come as a double-blow. You get really mad at the accusing person, but you’re also pretty ticked at yourself as well. And when you’re angry with everyone, well, what recourse or relief do you have? You just fester, until one day you either move past it or you explode in some kind of ugly way.

To be honest, I can’t say I’m any more thrilled with my wife’s suggestions than when I started writing this. Not necessarily because I think she’s wrong, but because I’m embarrassed she even has to worry about my stupid phone in the first place. Plus, I like checking my email and Facebook in the bathroom, so I may not go down without a fight in this debate. I’m not even sure if I’m right or not, but we males often don’t consider our chances of victory to be that crucial an element in determining whether we fight. We just don’t like being told what to do.

Hands Up

I’ve mentioned here on the blog before that I don’t particularly care for roller coasters. I just don’t get the thrill of trying to scare the crap out of yourself. “Here, I’m going to push you down this hill at a speed fast enough to make you think you might die.” Why, yes, that sounds like loads of fun. Sign me up.

One of the pitfalls of having children, though, is that they often want to do things you do not. So, of course, when my family went to the Magicseven-dwarfs-600 Kingdom last week, what was the first thing my kids wanted to do? Ride the Dumbo ride? Spin on the tea cups? Cruise through pirate-infested waters? No, of course not. Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train… Basically, anything that would drop us from a great height at an even greater velocity.

My wife actually does enjoy an occasional roller coaster ride, but it seems age or the effects of giving birth five times is catching up to her, as her stomach tends to get a little queasy with too much motion these days. So guess who that left to ride all these things? Yep, that would be me. (Actually, my wife did do the mine train and Splash Mountain. I’m just looking to garner extra sympathy here, I guess.)

I’ve gotten into this kind of odd habit of setting mini-goals for myself in certain situations these days. For example, I might challenge myself to say one ad-libbed thing to the waiter or waitress if I go out to eat. It may not sound like much, but it gives me a little sense of accomplishment here and there. In the case of Disney World, I set two: Strike up a conversation with a stranger (which I never, ever do) and raise my hands on a roller coaster.

The stranger part actually happened pretty naturally. For some reason, Disney World just seems to be conducive to striking up random conversations, and I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one waiting in line for one of the rides. The raising of the hands? Well, that was a bit more difficult. See, when I feel that first drop coming on, I apply the death grip to whatever’s in front of me. I actually had a sore back after riding Space Mountain because my body tensed up so much. I am not the dad you see in pictures with hands in the air and a smile on his face.

thunder mountainI failed on Space Mountain, the mine train, and Splash Mountain. Thunder Mountain Railroad was my last shot. I looked up and saw the big mountain and thought, “Oh, no, this isn’t going to work at all.” For some reason, though, my confidence had been building throughout the day. I guess not dying on the other three rides was giving me a boost. So, in the first turn of Thunder Mountain Railroad, I did something I had never done before: I raised my hands on a roller coaster.

I would imagine there are a few of you saying right now thinking, “Pfft, that’s not even a real roller coaster. Go through some loops and then pat yourself on the back.” Well, baby steps, I say. So what if I got my hands up on a small roller coaster. That’s better than I’d ever done before. There’s something about hitting those mini-goals that goes a long way for me. So when the ride ended and I was still alive, I felt pretty darn good. A bit silly, but pretty good.

Now, am I going to go back one day and hop on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster? Um, probably not. And I won’t even get into how our trip to the resort pool went (Note: I can’t swim.). But, you know, you have to claim the small victories when you can, right? Maybe I’ll even get my hands up on two roller coasters next time.

I Do What I Want … Sometimes

I-Do-What-I-Want_Gray_DESIGN_1024x1024I work with a guy who is one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. He has a counseling degree from a Christian university, does his job well, and is always a straight shooter. That’s why it’s so funny when sometimes after being asked to do something he’ll turn and sarcastically quip, “I do what I want.”

Ah, if only life were that easy.

I’ve always been a “supposed to” kind of person. I’ve been borderline obsessive over making exactly the right decision in every situation. As a result, I’ve always played things pretty conservatively. Behave in school, get good grades, go to college, get degree, get job, have family, go to church, drive the speed limit, etc., etc. And those are all good things. But there were also some things along the way I didn’t do. Move away from the area I grew up in, take some time off from college, visit a foreign country, maybe not get a degree, think outside the box. It’s too late for me to do a lot of those things now.

As I pondered this yesterday, I started to get kind of fired up. Why can’t I, at age 40, just docaptain-america-cab-door-300x250 what I want to do? I’ve always tried to stick to the rules, and I have a lot of regrets. Maybe it’s time for me to start sticking my neck out a little more. The more I thought about it, the more intense I became. I felt as if I could rip a car door off its hinges, just like Chris Evans did in the first Captain America movie.

How did I quell this aggression rising up in me? I broke my self-imposed “no Starbucks” rule and bought a decaf caramel macchiato.

What a rebel.

After a day back at work today and a healthy dose of reality, I realized I can’t always do exactly what I want. There has to be a balance in there somewhere. For instance, if my wife needs me to come home and watch the kids so she can run to the grocery store for something but I would rather go play golf (I don’t play golf, by the way. Only example I could think of.), it would be very selfish of me to just not come home. At the same time, though, if I want to homeschool my kids (which my wife and I actually do) in a world where public school is the recommended norm, why can’t I do that?

The “supposed to” mentality manifests itself in a lot of different ways for me. What’s the best shirt to wear today? What should I order at the restaurant? What are the right words to say to this person? What I’m talking about here, though, is something bigger. It’s a life philosophy. It’s deciding what to hold onto and what to let go. It’s deciding when to take a risk and when to play it safe. Most of all, though, it involves me moving out of a comfort zone (Man, I still hate that phrase.) and taking initiative.

And that is definitely not always safe.

The Prone Position

I had to have a cyst drained last week. My doctor believes it was a sebaceous cyst, which is usually not something to cause major health issues, but is still something that needs to be addressed. In this case, though, I had to rely on the eyes of others to let me know just how bad it had gotten.

The cyst was (is?) located right at the bottom of my back, practically on my waist, just above my, um, posterior. I could sort of twist myself around and look over my shoulder enough to get a glimpse of it in the mirror, but I couldn’t really get a good view of it. I knew it was growing and that it was starting to hurt, but I didn’t have a true sense of how large it had become.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is where the humiliation begins.

For starters, I had to lie in the prone position on a doctor’s table with my pants pulled down slightly while my physician sliced into proneliethis thing. To makes matters even more embarrassing, the cyst was apparently pretty full, which caused whatever was in it to spurt out everywhere once it was cut (Actually, I’m kind of glad I couldn’t see that part.). Once it was sufficiently drained, the doctor bandaged me up, but told me the bandage would have to be changed once a day while the spot healed. Since I am not a contortionist, that meant the lovely job of fixing me up every day would fall to my beloved wife.

I need to stop here and say that my wife is an amazing person. She is the practical half of our marriage, running our household while I do things like, well, write this blog. More than that, though, she has forgiven me more times than any man has ever deserved. I have wounded her as deeply as a husband can wound a wife, and she has stuck by me through it all. It hasn’t always been pleasant, but her showing of grace to me has been nothing short of miraculous.

So on the day after a doctor sliced a tiny hole in my back to drain a nasty cyst, I found myself lying once again in the prone position on our bed at home as I waited for my wife to enter the room with a fresh bandage and Band-Aid for the day. Of course, this being the day after the cut was made, the gauze pad from the day before was a little messy, so she took that off and disposed of it. I was embarrassed that she had to do it, but there wasn’t much I could do to help. Then she took the new gauze pad, placed it over the hole that was made the day before, and placed a Band-Aid over the pad.

And that’s when my eyes started to water a bit.

There is something about being in a helpless position that breaks a person down emotionally. You don’t have any pride in that moment, and if you do, you can be sure it’s going to be broken pretty quickly. You suddenly realize you are totally at the mercy of the person helping you, and if that someone is your spouse, you also realize all the little things they do to help you every day. You think about all the little things you didn’t do for them, and you regret the fact that once again they’re having to bail you out when you didn’t necessarily do the same for them.

Or that’s what I was thinking, at least.

Of course, this theme could be expanded out to God and spiritual surrender and things of that nature, but I wanted to tell this story for all the married couples who might be reading it. I took my spouse for granted, and I had to wind up on my stomach – literally and figuratively – to realize it. I’m still not perfect. I’m still probably going to flub up from time to time. Speaking as someone who doesn’t cry all that often, though, I shed some real tears that day, which is something I haven’t done in quite a while. I had genuine regret for the things I had done.

Whether you’re a husband or a wife, I hope you don’t have to end up lying on your stomach with a hole in your back to realize what I’m saying here. I think my wife appreciated my tears that day, although she could have just been enjoying ripping the Band-Aids off my back. Whatever the case, the prone position turned out to be the one I needed to be in.