If you’re looking for an easy road

This is the last of a three part series on Willard and Helen. Hopefully you read the first two, if not I’ll bring you up to date. Willard was referred to hospice at age 76 due to end-stage complications from a catastrophic stroke. Willard is now unresponsive and requires the total care of his wife, Helen.

Willard is a fanatical Christian and a perennial prankster, which makes him “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22) and Willard is not “ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16). He plastered Christian bumper stickers all over his car because, like the Apostle Paul, he believes that the gospel, “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.”

Helen is a little subtler, but she is still witty with a wonderful sense of humor, but Helen can become very serious and direct in a heart beat. One day we were talking about the challenges of life, the developmental tasks of each successive stage, and I suggested, “But sometimes I feel like I need a breakthrough.”

I explained that there are things about myself that I wished I could change, things I would like to be freed from. Instead of being impressed with my desire to be a better person Helen replied, “Loren, let me tell you something. If you’re looking for an easy road you aren’t going to find one. There isn’t one.”

Bull’s eye! Helen saw beneath my surface, that what I was really wanting was escape from responsibilities and the challenges of life. I was looking for an easy road, an “easy button.” Chuck Swindoll, the popular Christian pastor and author, said it this way, “I want about three dollars worth of God, not enough to make me uncomfortable, not enough to explode my soul. I think I’ll take about three dollars worth please.”

I’m reminded of a time when I was in graduate school. I sat overwhelmed at my desk in my basement. As I surveyed my assignments I prayed, “God help me. This is just too much to do. It’s too hard.” I wallowed in self-pity waiting for God’s rescue, for an escape, an exemption. I didn’t particularly appreciate or anticipate his reply, “The longer you sit there feeling sorry for yourself the farther behind you will get. The only way to get it done is to do it. There are no short cuts.” God gave me help and strength, and maybe even a kick in the seat of the pants, but not an exemption. So I buckled down and got to work.

M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book, “The Road Less Traveled” states, “Life is difficult, once we truly understand and accept this truth we transcend it,it no longer matters. Most moan more or less incessantly, noisily, subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? The only way to solve our problems is by solving them.” Scott Peck also suggested that when we attempt to escape reality and responsibilities, that we escape freedom.

So, the bad news is, “life is difficult”. But the good news (Gospel) is, we don’t have to do it on our own. Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another helper, that He may abide with you forever.” (John 14:15-16).

I think I’ll leave you to ponder a verse from a poem by D.H. Lawrence that was referred to in the movie, “G.I. Jane”: “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”

Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached by email at hardinl@somc.org or by phone at 740-356-2525.

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Straight Paths

Loren Hardin