Rite of passage parenting: Owies and empathy
Today, I’ve been sitting at my computer and thinking. But I’m not good at sitting. I want to be out and about, interacting with people. And I’m really not good at thinking. Do you know how hard it is and how much energy it takes? It’s probably a good thing I’m sitting while I’m thinking. After using all that energy to think, I don’t have any left to stand up.
Right now, I’m sitting here thinking about this column. For years, I’ve called it “Rite of Passage Parenting,” but in reality it should be called, “What Walker’s Thinking as He Sits in Front of His Computer.” But no one would read a column with that title. Maybe I should call it “Walker’s Ramblings.” That would be a more accurate label.
I apologize for rambling, but I had surgery this morning. My wife laughs at me because I only had a wart removed from my arm. She’s undergone multiple open heart surgeries, had holes drilled into her head and delivered two babies, so she doesn’t see things from my perspective. But anytime someone takes a scalpel to your skin, doctors classify it as surgery.
I tried to elicit some sympathy leading up to my ordeal, but every time I shared that I was going to the doctor to have a wart removed, the other person would take off on a story about their own surgery, which they proved by showing a four-inch scar. My appointment was at 8 in the morning, and I was home by 8:15. I wasn’t even in the office long enough to come out with a war story. I spent my recovery time standing in line to pay the bill.
When I left to go to the doctor’s office, I told my wife they might want to keep me overnight for observation. She was surprised when I came home in 15 minutes. She thought it would take at least 30.
The office did give me a special sheet of paper titled “Post-biopsy Wound Care Instruction.” The only thing that would have been more embarrassing was if the doctor had pinned it to my shirt before he sent me home.
The instructions weren’t complicated. “Keep the bandage in place and dry for 24 hours.” They went on to say, “It’s all right to use a Band-Aid to keep the wound covered, but it’s not necessary.” It’s hard to get people to feel your pain if the worst thing that happens post-surgery is wearing a Band-Aid for 24 hours. And the Band-Aid they used was small and flesh-colored. You would have had to look hard to notice it.
I always thought doctors gave you an option about what kind of Band-Aid you wanted. I would have picked something ferocious like “Angry Birds.” People would notice I had something done to my arm, and I could have gone around muttering something like “war wound.”
In some ways, I feel cheated. The doctor says I’ll have a scar, but if you want to see it, you’ll need to bring your magnifying glass.
Right now, I think the numbing shot is wearing off and I’m beginning to feel … well, not much different. But I am starting to think more clearly. At least I think I am.
One of the things I love about the Scriptures is the way Jesus identifies with all of our suffering and struggles, or as my little great-niece Victoria calls them, our “owies.” “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15).
You’ve never encountered a situation or owie that Jesus Himself hasn’t encountered. Have you ever felt betrayed by a loved one? So has He. Have you ever been physically, mentally or spiritually abused? So has He. Have you ever searched for answers? So has Jesus. Have you ever suffered physical pain? So has He. Jesus came to this Earth to identify with us, to know and experience the challenges of living this side of eternity.
Since I couldn’t get anyone to empathize with me, I showed Jesus my owie, and He understood. He knows what I’m going through and told me that, together, we can get through this. Then He gave me a promise from his Word: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).
I guess He told me that because he knew the wound on my arm wasn’t the only owie I would get that morning. The second one came when I paid the bill.