Ronnie was forty-five when he enrolled in outpatient hospice services with end stage cirrhosis of the liver. Ronnie had lived with his sister, “Net”, for thirteen years, but Ronnie spent most of his time out back in his “man cave”, an old 12×12 foot wooden plank shed furnished with a half bed, small table, TV and electric heater. After all, a man does need his solitude
Ronnie confessed, “I’m an alcoholic but I haven’t drank for two years”. Net expounded, “The doctor told Ronnie that if he drinks anymore, it will kill him. The only time he wasn’t drinking was when he was sleeping. Mom used to buy him beer but I’m sterner than mom. Ronnie took after mom, he’s softhearted. He would give you the shirt off his back. But he lost his family over drinking.”
Ronnie asserted, “Nobody makes you do anything. You’re the one that does it. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. They aren’t twisting your arm. When I was a kid my dad told me, ‘Son, you made your bed; now you’re going to have to lie in it.’ When I was a kid, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I thought, ‘I didn’t even make my bed!’ It took me a long time to figure out what dad was talking about.”
I told Ronnie that his life story reminded me of the George Jones song, “Choices”: “I’ve had choices since the day that I was born. There were voices that told me right from wrong. If I had listened, no, I wouldn’t be here today; living and dying the choices I made.”
Then Ronnie exclaimed, “I met George Jones! Me and my wife lived in Lakeland, Florida before we broke up and George Jones had a house down there. He always bought his whisky at the liquor store where my wife worked. And our house was just across the road so I saw him all the time. He was just as common as me and you. He drove an old Volkswagen Beetle. He told me he had fancy cars too but he would rather drive the old beetle. He bought a decanter of whisky from my wife that looked like Elvis. That’s where he came up with the words in that song, ‘I drank Elvis to the pelvis’”.
Ronnie and I talked about how men and women have been blaming others for their choices since the “Garden of Eden”. You know the story; the serpent talked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit; then Eve persuaded Adam to take a bite. When God confronted them how did they respond? Adam blamed his wife, “It was the woman you gave me.” Then Eve blamed the serpent, “The serpent tricked me”.
We aren’t much different, are we? Several years ago, my marriage was on shaky ground, or on second thought, perhaps I was. I vividly remember sitting at the kitchen table praying, “Lord if only Susie…” Then my heavenly Father stopped me in my tracks. His “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12) came through loud and clear, “What are you doing to show your wife that she is the most important person in the world to you? There’s never an excuse for unholy behavior. You are responsible to me no matter what anybody else does. You just put me first and I will take care of the rest.” That’s been over forty-five years, three daughters and four grandchildren ago. Thank God for loving me just the way I was, but loving me too much to let me stay that way.
Several years ago, “The Eagles”, wrote a song titled, “Get over it”. The first time I heard it I loved it. My friend Jerry told me that anytime he starts complaining that his “Little Sista”, Lisa, jokingly tells him to “get over it”: “I turn on the tube and what do I see, a whole lot of people crying ‘don’t blame me’. They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else; spend their time feeling sorry for themselves. Victim of this, victim of that, your momma’s too thin, your daddy’s too fat. Get over it! All this whining and crying and pitching a fit, get over it! …You don’t want to work; you want to live like a king, but the big bad world doesn’t owe you a thing…. Complain about the present and blame it on the past, I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass. Get over it!” (I apologize for the language, but I have to keep it real).
We’ve all had “choices” since the day that we were born and we’re all living and dying the choices we’ve made. When we try to escape responsibility by blaming others, we end up escaping freedom and missing out on forgiveness, for lame excuses don’t fly with God. God can’t and won’t forgive excuses, but the Good News is, He will forgive sins sincerely confessed: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (I John 1:9).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected]. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course”, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at [email protected]. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.