So a man walks into the doctor’s office for his appointment. He begins to tell the doctor about his symptoms: “I’ve got this pain. You have no idea what it feels like. I’m the only one in my family that has this,” he says. “Further, this guy I know from my church tried to sympathize with me, but he just doesn’t understand because he just isn’t me.” This goes on and on and on.
The doctor says, “I think I know what you have.”
“What is it, doctor?” the man says all worked up and searching for something that will make him feel better.
“Terminal Uniqueness,” says the doctor, “and I’m afraid the bad news is that you are the only one in the world that has your strain.”
How often I catch myself on the verge of terminal uniqueness. Wrapped in my particular experience I relate the experience best—well—to myself. I find this to be very true of us guys. We live much of our lives in our heads. We spend time planning, executing, measuring, pondering, and processing in the presence of our egos which generally are responsible for all the planning, executing, measuring, and pondering to begin with. The focus on output and achievement becomes very “I” focused and in doing so, I make myself isolated or ’unique’, constantly measuring my performance in any area to a goal, a made up standard, or the other guy. In our culture this is pretty acceptable, taught, and even encouraged, but it is truly terminal to my spiritual condition.
The remedy to this condition is to be open and vulnerable; two words no guy likes to hear let alone consider. Yielding to the truth that I am not in control and allowing my doubts and struggles to be known is how I grow in faith and love in Jesus Christ. Trust me when I say the process is not an easy one and there have been times that I’d rather have had a root canal. But you know Wesley knew what he was talking about with this accountability thing. It works as long as you work at it. I have learned to surrender; to be open and vulnerable with others. It has led to some of the most incredible experiences of shared sacred space. A group of trusted friends is an absolute must on this walk. The Bible tells us that “where two or more are gathered He is there.” It is different when we are shared with others. Not our thoughts, accomplishments, and other egocentric pleasantries, but the true answer to Wesley’s question, “How is it with your soul?”
Until I went down this path of self-examination, dissection of motive, and identification of desires, I was not able to relate with others all that well. Sure I could tell jokes and be the guy wearing the lampshade at the party, but I couldn’t sit with a friend while he received chemo and feel his fear and hope with no words spoken. I couldn’t work and worship in another language in another country with people and upon leaving feel as if we were being torn in two but each rejoicing for the other in the love of the Lord. Jesus commanded us to love another as he loved us. It’s a discipline that requires hard work, to be sure, and depending on the day and moment, you may just find me headed to the dentist’s office.