Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“What I’ve found in my research is that realism and self-honesty are the antidote to ego, hubris, and delusion.” – Ryan Holiday

The transition happens twice. The first is rather predictable, the second is most certainly inevitable. In between is a period of illusion, when the frail nature of our humanity looms distant, and the reality of our morality escapes us.

We spent time with our grandchildren over the Christmas holiday. There are five of them now, the oldest is seven years old and the youngest is one. Our granddaughter Ava turned two in November. She is a darling, she tries to keep up with the older brothers, she carries a football in one hand and her baby in the other. When it was time to open presents this Christmas, the brothers moved quickly through the wrapping paper revealing a toy or game. Ava was having trouble with the ribbon on her present, she looked at me and said, “Help me Bapa.” I was happy to assist her, and once the ribbon was off, she was good to go. This litany continued over the family vacation in a variety of situations, Ava would ask for help getting in and out of the pool, going potty, pushing elevator buttons. “Help me,” she said, with not the least bit of hesitation or shame.

The transition happens twice. The first is rather predictable, the second is most certainly inevitable.

Brooks is a sweet a little boy who will turn five next Spring. He is a third born grandson. No longer a toddler, he has transitioned to a new phase of independence. One evening I offered my help as he navigated a rather tricky circular staircase. He wanted none of it, “Bapa, I do it myself.” Unless there was pain, or some egregious transgression by his older cousins, he did not want to be helped; he wanted to be independent.

“There’s no such thing as an independent person.” – Peter Jennings

The transition happens twice. The first is rather predictable, the second is most certainly inevitable.

In the years between the first transition and the second, we enjoy a season of illusionary independence. Short of accident, disease, or some grave injustice, we do not like to ask for assistance. We are more than happy to offer assistance to others, but asking for help, admitting that we need help, is somehow viewed as a weakness, it is an assault on our ego. Consequently, in our hubris we often go it alone, rather than to use the simple words of our younger years, “Help me.” The author Anne Lamott writes that human prayers lifted up to almighty God ultimately fall into two categories: “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I have spent my entire life caring for people who are transitioning for the second time, and they don’t like it at all. The journey of a lifetime brings with it an inevitable toll on the body and mind. There is no escaping it in the end. We move slower, our bodies creak out of bed, our bathroom cabinet resembles a pharmacy, stairs look daunting, we give up skiing and sky diving. After decades of expansion, our world now becomes smaller with each passing year. We still desire to say, “I do it myself,” but the reality is that we need to utter the words, “Help me.”

In the garden our first parents were tempted not with an apple, but with the promise of independence. If you eat of the apple, you will have knowledge, you will be like God, you will not have to depend on God to provide food or care. The first humans were scammed, there is no such thing as independence in this world or the next. We are creatures, we need help, we need to help each other, and we need to embrace our shared humanity by asking for help. There is no shame in asking for help.

It was a family Christmas vacation, there were fourteen of us, the middle generation adults were quick to care for their children, but they also uttered these words, “Are you OK Bapa, how is your bursitis, can we give you a hand?” And in the ultimate transition they now reach for the bill after dinner. I am in the midst of the second inevitable transition.

I am one beggar, telling another beggar where to find bread. I am your

Pastor Jim

Contact Pastor Jim if you have questions at [email protected]