That One Thing

My life has had its share of successes and disappointments. I’m fortunate enough to be able to feel as though most of the disappointments are behind me. That being said, however, there is one disappoint which persists and does more than annoy me. It hurts me. In the movie “City Slickers” Curly refers to “that one thing.” It’s “that one thing” disappointment which drags on in my life and I wonder if it will ever change.

Dad was a generous soul; in many cases to a fault. Whenever he found something he liked, something which he considered an opportunity to improve life he exerted impressive energy in attempting to share his good fortune with anyone who cared to take part. Some of the ideas were total shots in the dark and stood little chance of success, but that never fazed him. He would dive headlong into the process of sharing his latest discovery. I’ve often felt that had he committed that missionary like zeal to sharing his Christian beliefs he could have rivaled Billy Graham. But, of course that didn’t happen. Looking back at Dad’s life, I can’t remember a one of his “projects”, aside from his professional life, that succeeded. But it never kept him from diving headlong into the latest new thing.

Every time I see a couple of young men in dark slacks, white shirts and ties, riding down the street on bicycles with backpacks I see a form of dedication that most of us wouldn’t think of embracing. I’ve often wondered what their closing ratio is. In today’s social and political climate it can’t be good. They and the Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to thrive on rejection. Personally, I don’t enjoy rejection of my ideas or beliefs.

I know full well that as a Christian I’m called to do more than sit in church every Sunday and put 10% in the plate. I do make an honest effort to follow that instruction, but when I do I inevitably run smack up against “that one thing” disappointment … and it breaks my heart.

With the exception that the love of my life is no longer here to share life with me, I’ve never been happier in my life. I am my father’s child. I want to share that happiness that discovery which led to it with everyone who is willing to listen. Most of all I want to share it with people I care most about who have never experienced what I do on a daily basis. When I see the sadness and disappointment in their lives I want to fix it. That’s what Dad always wanted to do for anyone who was hurting. He wanted to fix it for them. But he couldn’t, and I can’t, fix it for them.

“That one thing” disappointment was on vivid display a few nights ago. My neighbor, a woman who is nearing middle age, is single and claims to want to stay that way, sent me a text on Tuesday evening asking how I’d been, how work was going. I got preoccupied and didn’t respond until the next evening. When I did, she asked me if I had time to talk and I replied, “Sure, what’s up?” She came over and we sat down at the bar. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. After explaining everything that had been done and what the future held she said, “I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be incapacitated.”

That’s what she said, but she wasn’t able to hide the fear of the future. It was on her face and especially in her eyes. She knows my faith. I shared it early in our friendship but like so many people, too many people, she told me she wasn’t “into religion;” she didn’t need it. I don’t know if she came to me the other night as a way of obliquely asking for me to pray for her or not. Of course I will pray for her, but in spite of my sincerity or dedication to praying for her, my prayers will never have the impact that her own prayers would have … if she would only let go and ask.

“That one thing” disappointment in my life is the fact that I have, and continue to, fail in my effort to effectively share the incredible sense of peace that comes from my faith on a day to day, minute to minute, moment to moment basis. There are so many times that I just want to grab people, and in Granny’s words, “shake ‘em til their teeth rattle, in an effort make them accept what I try unsuccessfully to share.

My neighbor is not the only one. She’s just the most recent example. In some ways it’s just heartbreaking. People who are dear to me and have turned to me for solace and understanding reject any mention of my faith and what it’s done for me. They don’t seem to want to hear about the peace I’ve found and I think it’s because they think the cost to their goals and their hopes will be too high. And I search in vain to find a way explain in an understandable way that when I finally and completely turned my entire being, every single facet of the spirit and soul that are me, over to the care and direction of God, that I was in fact finally free; free of everything that had plagued me my entire life. I didn’t become a Jesus clone. I was set free to be completely the me that is made up of all the gifts God gave me to use.

I still love all those people as does God, but it hurts when I attempt to share the gift I received and it’s rejected. The fact that I’ve shared my faith with them and they’ve made the choice to not accept it for their own lives, which according to scripture means I’ve done what’s expected of me, is of little comfort to me. Maybe someday it will be. In the meantime I will just keep on a keepin’ on and maybe someday I’ll realize “that one thing” is no longer a part of my life.

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