Feeling like an orphan... when I know I'm a Son

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Ask a Man who loves God if he knows his True Identity and you will often get an affirmative answer. Even an enthusiastic response.

but Ask a Man who is trying to Please God by proving his worth and you might get a quizzical look... and even that 'almost-rebuke' look that says, 'are you nuts? Of course I know my identity. I'm your __________ (lawyer, doctor, plumber, fill in the blank)".

I've noticed a pattern. As a guy in the 2nd half of life, I realize that I'm good at certain things and not so good at others. And, in the masculine world I live in, some of the things I'm not so good at fall clearly in the column labeled "Things Men Are Supposed to Do". It's true of almost every man. Even if your earthly father was a good man, you can bet there are some things you needed - as a Man - that he simply wasn't equipped to give you. And you got short-changed. Perhaps that explains why, in some environments, you feel like a young boy; unfathered; ill-equipped; shameful.

To be sure, I have my fair share of skills, desires and masculine pursuits where I excel. I love almost any athletic endeavor and I excel at a number of sports that require strength, endurance and hand-eye coordination. It feels good to participate with other guys in these kinds of activities.

On the other hand, when it comes to building, fixing or maintaining things around my home, I have absolutely no desire and, therefore, little skill. More to the point, when it comes to intermediate fix-it duties, I simply don't have confidence.

Having said that I'll describe my internal experience from this past weekend about performing some typical 'manly' home maintenance duties.  I have big pine trees in my back yard in Georgia.  Lots of them.  Some of them are dead.  They just haven't fallen over yet.  One of them did fall last week.  Thankfully no one was injured.  But there is a fence between my property and my neighbor's property that took a severe beating from this 90 foot tree.

It was clearly my responsibility to clean & repair.  My neighbors were terrific and patient until I could get to it on Saturday. Ask me to run a 10K race. Ask me to throw batting practice to the local high school baseball team. Ask me to fill in for you when you have to miss your USTA tennis match.  I'd love to help.

But don't ask me to build a fence or repair a structure. I have only gotten comfortable with a chainsaw in the past year. I actually bought one and have used it successfully. Looking at a gaping hole in my neighbor's fence felt paralyzing.  Why?  I don't know.  And WHY is it so hard to ask for help? I felt like I was being asked to construct the Empire State Building.  

The point of this piece is that I knew I needed help.  I hate asking for help.  I feel young and vulnerable when I do.  I'd rather try something in private and fail multiple times than ask for help.  But there was no getting around this.  I needed help.

I emailed two younger friends who I knew to be skilled and comfortable in this kind of thing.  My first email attempt was full of apologies for having to ask at all. Ugh!  That didn't sound or feel right. So I tried again. I made a simple request for their time and energy and didn't fall all over myself pre-apologizing for needing help. And... to my delight, I got immediate responses from both.  They were eager to help. One could help and one couldn't but that didn't matter. One was enough.

Before he came, I pulled out the chainsaw and attempted to start it.  It hadn't been touched in 9 months and it was a cold day. I even watched a YouTube video on starting the chainsaw so I could 'do it right'. First attempt. Failed. Second attempt. Failed. Ten minutes of waiting. Third attempt.  SUCCESS! Cutting the tree up was easy. It even felt good. I'm feeling energized by this time.

As I finished the clean up, Chris came over and surveyed the damage. We needed a few 2x4's, a 4x4 and some 6' fence boards. We would be able to use many of the old boards because they weren't destroyed, just fallen. I could see him formulating a plan in his head while I watched. He knew I needed help. He was glad to offer. We went to Home Depot and picked up the materials and returned to the site. I tried to look useful. I think I was. And as we tore away the debris, the project didn't seem so mammoth.

Of course, what made the whole experience delightful was the way Chris approached the situation. He was good and he knew what to do. And he didn't waste energy or words making sure I knew that he was the reason this was going to go well. As we worked together, I couldn't help remembering that I had never seen my Dad do anything like this. My Dad was a really good man but I think I saw a hammer in his hand one time in my life. As Chris and I talked about this, he made the observation that, "Of course you would feel uncomfortable in a task like this if you have never done it."  Brilliant!

Somehow, on this cold February Saturday, I felt 'fathered' by God.  And God was using a man 30 years my junior to do it. My fear in facing a project of uncertain duration turned into delight as we repaired the broken fence in a few hours. Chris had given me a gift. He made it easy to ask for help.  He made it fun to do something that I abhorred.

I'm learning that it is OK to ask for help.