If pride truly cometh before the fall then we need a strong harness and a good helmet.
Note: When I use “God” I’m talking about the God of the Jewish, Christian and Catholic faiths but it can mean whatever higher power you believe in. The principles are all the same so if you have a different authority that you answer to please replace God with that.
As men we’re fixers. It’s in our DNA to try and do things ourselves and in general we aren’t real big on asking for help. Does this story sound familiar?
Think about the last time you picked up something from IKEA. Chances are you immediately laid everything out in front of you, put the directions somewhere behind you and began the assembly process.
Did your wife/girlfriend/partner/child come into the room as you were searching for nut B and screw Z to ask how it was going? Did you respond by muttering something under breath about how the Swedes need a lesson in assembling furniture ‘The American way?”
Did they then pick up the directions from the corner and ask why you weren’t using them? If they did I’m sure you answered, “Directions? I don’t need no stinking directions.”
Once you finally got it assembled did you stare in wonder at the four extra pieces and ask yourself why they put extra pieces in the package? The answer is that they didn’t put anything extra in the box.
We beamed with pride as we showed our family the shiny new entertainment center and flew into a rage when it fell apart the moment the new (and very expensive) flat screen TV crashed to the floor because the shelf collapsed.
The same is true with our lives. We believe that as men we can take care of everything on our own. We make mistakes and then break down what happened like a football coach the day after a spanking on national TV.
The truth is that we can’t take care of everything on our own and we do need help. When I say, “help” I don’t mean that we call our neighbor to help us drop the motor into the car we’re always working on. I mean that we need help from above.
I can tell you that I’ve screwed up in ways I’m ashamed to admit and the reason I’ve screwed up is that I refuse to hand stuff over to God and try to do life on my own. But I can’t do life on my own. No one can. At least not successfully.
Why do we try and get through life on our own? For me it’s that I’m afraid to hand over the reins and let someone else take control. If we don’t like people driving our car why would we want someone driving our life?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
No matter what your beliefs, the idea that we can’t do things on our own is universal. Once we admit that we need help and turn the leys of our lives to God we will find that we will get from A to B without the mishaps and blunders that happen when we get behind the wheel.
I liken our lives to a limousine ride. We can either drive ourselves through life or we can hop in the back seat and let God use his GPS to maneuver around the trouble spots.
It’s no secret that men don’t like to ask for directions when driving and the same is true with our lives. It seems the bigger the decision the less likely we are to ask for help and that makes no sense.
I recently attended a retreat with my church men’s group and the speaker was a neurosurgeon named Dr. David Levy. Surgeons have a reputation for thinking they hold the fate of the patient in their hands but Dr. Levy knows who is ultimately in charge.
Not only does he pray for guidance before and during the surgery but he also prays with his patients before the surgery. He told us that when he started doing this with his patients he was afraid of what the nurses and other doctors would think and did it only when he was alone with the patients.
After a while people caught on to what he was doing and the nurses began joining him in prayer with his patients. The point of this story is that if a man in a profession full of people with God complexes can hand over the lives of his patients to God then I should be able to hand my daily life over to God. More often than not I try to do things on my own and the results are typically not what I was hoping for.
I believe that a big reason for us not handing things over to God is because we’re prideful. History is full of prideful men who didn’t hand things over to God and who suffered greatly because of it.
Remember Adam? He was prideful and thought he could be like God but instead was cast out of the Garden of Eden and ended up screwing it up for the rest of us. We need to remember that our decisions affect more than ourselves. If we’re married and have a family our decisions will impact them and our decisions can sometimes make or break the companies that we own or work for.
What do we do about it? I have to constantly remind myself that I tend to screw things up in a big way and that I have to suck it up and admit to myself that I don’t have the answers and that I can’t do it on my own.
The hardest part for me is admitting to myself that I need help. I have some pretty serious self-esteem issues and hate asking for help with anything because in my messed up mind asking for help is just one more failure and one more reason not to believe in myself.
I walk a fine line between my need to believe in my abilities and my need to believe that I need help from above. Once I find that balance I have no doubt that my life will improve tremendously.
I feel like I’m trapped in my life and that I don’t know who I really am. I’m afraid of screwing up and have too much fear but as I learned from Dr. Levy, vulnerability is the highest form of courage.
As men we have an inherent need to be brave and to be courageous yet we don’t realize that it’s OK to be vulnerable. We don’t want to be seen as cowards or that we’re not in control of our lives. The sooner we realize that we’re not in control and that being vulnerable isn’t the same as being a wimp the sooner we will have the life we want.
I have a message on the bottom of my massive whiteboard. It says, “In a world where you can be anything…BE YOURSELF!” I see these words every day yet I have a hard time heeding them. I feel like I’m trapped in a hole that I can’t get out of and the reason I’m trapped is that I’m afraid to find out who I really am. I’m pretty sure that I will like that person but the fear of that guy being a bigger loser than the person I currently am takes over and I stay in the never ending cycle I’m currently in.
The last thing Dr. Levy reminded me of is that authenticity gives us freedom. The way out of the hole I’m in is in being myself and part of being myself has to be handing the keys of my life over to God. The sooner I put my hands up and say, “Your turn” the sooner I will have the life I want.
That’s my story. What’s yours? What stops you from handing things over to God? If you are one of the people who does hand things over to God how has it changed your life? I want to hear your story.
If you want to learn more about this I highly suggest getting the book Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer . . . One Patient at a Time by Dr. David Levy. It’s part medical drama and part insight to our spiritual selves. I’m a few chapters in and it’s a great read.
Photo of man looking up courtesy of Flick’r