“Get a Job”
Monday morning meant a trip to the District Court in Media, PA. I was there to stand with a friend and to speak on his behalf during a difficult time. I did what I had planned to do and was leaving the courthouse when someone shouted, “Get a job.” “Put down your stick and stop walking like that and get yourself a job!” It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on. When it became clear I was stunned. This individual was shouting at me.
I have been using a walking stick at different times over the past few months. The more chemotherapy treatments I have had the worse my neuropathy has become. Over the past few weeks every step I have taken has been met with a deep tingling or pain. It feels as if my feet have fallen asleep and I cannot wake them up. At times it is my walking stick which helps keep me standing upright. When I walk I shuffle more than take steps. I move like a person much older than I am. My walking sticks have been a source of stability and assurance as I have navigated my way through the world.
Standing on the sidewalk I was stunned. “You heard me, stop with the act, put down your stick and go get yourself a job like everyone else!” At that moment I had an ungodly thought. I wished I had my bigger stick. I could have used it right about then for something other than walking.
I slowly started to walk again. As I shuffled my way down the street the voice rang out, “Give up your act, get a job, stop acting. (there were some other words thrown in which I will not print here). At this point I shouted back. “Why don’t you give Stage 4 Colon Cancer a try and then get back to me.” I figured an explanation might help. Wrong. “So that’s your story, good one; put down your stick and get a job!”
With that I was done and I quietly walked / shuffled the two blocks to my truck. Once in my truck I thought about tracking down the person who chose to speak into my life this morning. I thought better of it and opted to drive home. Driving home my mind was filled with many different thoughts.
I had known this day was coming. I had tried to prepare myself for it…obviously I failed. I am ill, I am weak, I do not have the energy or strength that I once did…but you would not know it from looking at me. Everyone this I met in NY this past weekend told me I was, “looking good.” I have not lost weight, in fact I have gained some. I have not lost any hair, and to be honest how would you know…I started shaving what little hair remained on my head awhile ago. If you listen to me talk I may sound short of breath now and then. If you ask me to open a jar of pickles I will come up with some excuse as to why I cannot. Yet, to just look at me you would not necessarily know the physical struggle I am going through right now. I have often thought how odd it must look like for me to stand watching as the young guy at Lowes loads my truck. I can only imagine what people must think when I pull into a handicapped parking spot and get out. Worse of all is what it must look like when I walk beside Nancy and she pushes the cart full of groceries or I “supervise” loading the truck with supplies for a project at home. I have often thought it must look like I am making my wife do all the heavy lifting while I just coast alongside her. It would be easy to look at me and assume I am playing some sort of game and taking advantage of “the system” or an individual.
Are You For Real?
I was hurt. I was angry. Get a job? Are you for real? I wanted nothing more than to sleep this morning. I was tired. Yet I needed to be in Media District Court at 8:30am…so up 6:30, leave the house by 7:00 just to be sure I was there. I have not missed a Sunday since May. I am completing my responsibilities at church well. We are moving forward and there are signs of growth in many different areas. Get a job, no thanks I have one that I love.
I was disappointed in myself. How in the world can I allow this person who does not know anything about me to have an impact upon my day? They have no clue about my reality. For some reason they felt the need to speak into what they saw without understanding reality. Why do I allow their words to hurt? Why do I allow their words to turn my attention away from what is truly important on this day? I was reminded of the words from Proverbs 18…
Proverbs 18:1-7 (NIV)
An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach. The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice. The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating. The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
Surrounded by Fools
We are often surrounded by fools. People who have no interest in understanding but boy do they like to hear themselves talk. If I had been carrying my big stick and if I could have shuffled a little faster I might have brought a little Proverbs 18 to life in this young mans life today (“The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.”). Fools are not going anywhere. We will always be surrounded by them. Why do I allow what they say and think to get me agitated? You would think that by this stage in my life I would have learned to pay no mind to the words of a fool. I thought about how I can easily let the words of a fool get me “fired up” to the point where I start to push rational thought aside and think and speak like a fool. In my anger or emotion I say, think, or do things I would not normally do. Baited by a fool into becoming the fool. How often has that happened? Learning to listen to the one voice that matters, the Still Small Voice of Abba Father would eliminate all this craziness. Father help me.
I thought back through my life and all the snap judgments I have made based upon MY observations. I wonder how many of those were so terribly wrong. I mean for some reason my “friend” today made a snap judgment based upon where I was and what he saw. It clouded his thought process and led him to speak foolishness. I would be a fool to believe I have not fallen prey to similar things in my own life. What is it that makes us think we can look at someone or a situation and make this snap decisions that properly understand their reality? “Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood.” Good words that were part of a training I was a part of ten years ago. We were being trained on how to lead small groups. Imagine how life would be different if in every interaction we sought first to understand…before we spoke, argued our point or made our voice heard. I confess there have been times I have played the fool. I have made snap assessments that have been wrong and done harm to others. Father forgive me.
I hope my “friends” day got better. I hope that whatever was going on in his world that left him filled with anger and hate faded away and was replaced with a sense of peace and joy. I am glad I did not have my big stick. I hope I am better prepared for the next time someone looks at me, makes a snap decision and then opts to play the fool.
God is Good All the Time; All the Time God is Good
I think I have come up with my tattoo…provided my doctor will give me the okay. What do you think Andrea? We could sneak off and get them without telling Marge or Nancy. 🙂
Theresa Donlick says
Thank you for sharing Dan. I wish the young man could read these words it might keep him from striking out again at someone else. Often it”s not until one goes through a painful time themselves, that they understand. My Richard was in pain many years of his life, but I doubt many knew his struggles. Lack of Stamina does not show and is especially hard to deal with. Proud to know you Dan. You are a trooper! Prayers for you and your family.
I don’t always comment, but I enjoy reading your blog Dan. Quite a blessing.
Nancy Nicewonger says
I always thought I was sympathetic to those going through illness. Every day now I realize how much I did not understand. It is very different when you experience something yourself or through someone very close to you. Glad I wasn’t with him for this one. He often responds with more grace than I find within myself.
Ryan J says
So sorry to hear about the unfair attack. I appreciate your ability to respond as you have. This takes much grace.
I love the idea /pic of our tattoos. Get permission from the Doc, get to Boston ASAP, and we will send Nancy and Marge off for coffee talk while we go get INK! I am in!
Jerry Pothier says
Dan I am never surprised when a sinner living in a sinful world acts in accordance with his character. Your prayer for him gave me great joy for it demonstrated God’s love and Grace.
Hang in there big guy,God’s Grace is sufficient.
Dan, you are in my prayers. God has given you amazing gifts and continues to give
you greater understanding in life and all the experiences you have and are having.
He is with you. He has given you a wonderful wife and mother of your children. I’ve
not met them, but believe they had a strong and loving father who encourages and guards them.
As you experience at times unjust judgements and remarks, recall that your Lord experienced the same. Remember His response and find solace in His love for you and also for the one(s) that hurt.
Love you both.
You know you always could have done the ole “head butt” to him.
Kidding of course, but it might have been worth the headache you would have gotten.
If anyone can stay calm and trudge on from people like that guy, it is you. After all, who got that kid of mine to ride her bike back in the day.
How I miss you all and I am so sorry I haven’t kept in touch.
Say hello via email when you or Nancy have 2 mins.
A tatto? Really?
Prayers and love!