Luanna enrolled in our outpatient hospice service with terminal cancer. Luanna and her husband, Henry, are modest, temperate folk. Henry is probably a little more temperate and it is Henry who this story is about.
Henry is a slender, soft-spoken unassuming elderly gentleman with silver grey hair combed straight back. Henry typically dresses casually, usually in a T-shirt and blue jeans. During one of my visits their adult daughter, Janet, shared,” Last year we bought dad a new black suit, a string tie, new cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He really looks sharp when he dresses up.” I suggested to Henry, “I bet you look like a Texas senator when you get all dressed up.” Henry replied, “I don’t want to look like anything I’m not supposed to look like.”
Most of us, unlike Henry, are desperately trying to look like something we’re not supposed to look like, aren’t we? William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…,” (“As You Like It”).
Francesca Battistelli, Christian music artist, wrote: “I take my time to set the stage, make sure everything is all in place. Even though I have the lines rehearsed, a picture only paints a thousand words. Things aren’t always what they seem, you’re only seeing part of me…I’m incomplete and I’m undone, but I suppose like everyone, there’s so much more that’s going on behind the scenes,” (YouTube, “Behind the Scenes”)
Paul Tournier, Swiss physician, wrote, “The fear of being misunderstood or being criticized, judged, even despised, keeps us back from certain confessions and confidences. Therefore we all are playing a cautious game,” (“The Meaning of Persons”).
I believe we play “a cautious game” with good reason. After all, the world isn’t exactly a perfectly understanding, forgiving, merciful, gracious or sincere place. Jesus warned his disciples, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves,” (Matthew 7:15); “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, least they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces,” (Matthew 7:6); “…therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” (Matthew 10:16). Therefore, in this world, it’s wise to “play a cautious game”, isn’t it?
The Good News is that we don’t have to “play a cautious game” with God. We don’t have to try to look like anything we’re not supposed to look like. He invites us to step out from behind our defenses and pretenses, and stand naked before Him. He alone is worthy and able to love us just the way we are. But, be forewarned, He loves us too much to let us stay that way.
“’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).
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.