For about ten years, now, I’ve been getting this pain in my neck every once in a while. I imagine it’s some kind of pinched nerve, or something of that nature, but since it’s only occasionally, I never sought any kind of treatment for it. I call it my “tourette’s neck,” because it sometimes makes me jerk my head to the side when it happens. It happened during our wedding ceremony and it was all I could do not to jerk and twitch. I didn’t, thank goodness.
It hasn’t happened in a while, which is good.
Last August, I had my right rotator cuff surgically repaired, and it has never been the same since, not really. I have my range of motion back, but it still hurts pretty good most mornings, like maybe Dr Peare forgot to put something back in.
Over the past week or so here in Yakima, both things have been bothering me, on and off. My shoulder, especially. I know Jenny has been having a hard time of it as well, and I’ve been missing her and the boys something terrible. Last week, I went to a church Jorge told me about, and it was amazing. It’s called Changing Pointe, and if you’re ever in Yakima, that would be the place I’d send you. Last week it was about “Surviving the Pressure,” and it was right on point (I need to get Jenny to listen to it). At the end of the service, Pastor Eli did an altar call, and probably 30 or so people came up. Never seen such a response to an altar call. He prayed for everyone, and found a way to lay hands on each and every person for just a few seconds while he did it.
So another week went by, and every day I missed Jen a little bit more. I had lots of time to think, and what I mainly thought about is how I have to do better for my kids. I’ve got the providing part down, and God has really blessed my wife and I financially over the past year. The part I struggle with is leading my family–in giving them an example of what it looks like to really love God, and give everything to him. I mean everything in the sense of myself, by the way.
Today, father’s day, the sermon was the second in the Surviving the Pressure series, with an understandable segue toward what this day means to fathers and children. There was a slide presentation for Pastor Eli some folks made, and while it played a man on the praise team sang a song the Pastor had written, and it was really beautiful. I was a wreck before the sermon even started. Plus, my shoulder was burning, and I kept jerking my head around like one of those Roxbury guys on SNL.
Two quotes from his talk stuck in my mind (regarding fatherhood. He talked about witnessing his own father praying for his family–earnestly praying for them–in the small hours of the evening one time, and how he thinks about that when he wonders what do about being a parent), the first being this:
Fathers, what do your children see you doing as an outlet for pressure?
Crap. My kids see me get mad, or lash out in some way, or simply retreat and clam up.
The other was, Dads, don’t lose heart. Find a way. Lead the way.
Exactly what has been on my heart lately. In fact, it would be fair to say this was one of those times when it seemed like a pastor was talking directly to me the whole time he was in the pulpit. And the thought that occurred to me today was in the form of the Sanctus Real song “Lead Me,” which absolutely destroys me every time I listen to it.
So that was in my mind when Pastor Eli got to the end of his sermon and to the invitation part. I don’t remember much of what he said at that point, exactly, but it was something about dads and pressure. And leading. And finding a way. I thought about going up there, and then decided against it. Then I figured there would be thirty people again, and I could be relatively anonymous.
The urge to go was almost overwhelming, so up there I went, and you can probably guess what happened. It was just me. So there I was in front of the stage, and the music started swelling loudly. He placed his hands on my head and began to pray–I couldn’t hear a word he said, but it didn’t really matter. He placed both of his hands on my neck for a few seconds, and then on my shoulders. Had my stress and tension been that obvious?
I couldn’t hear his words, but I could feel them. My shoulder loosened up, and my neck stopped twitching. I stood there for a few more seconds, and then he shook my hand and that was it.
I went out to my rental car and listened to the voicemails my kids had left while I was in church. Started crying like a schoolgirl again, and then I sent a video message to my wife for them to listen to (it took me two tries before I could do it without tearing up).
So if I take nothing away from this trip except some extra per diem and a couple of paychecks, in the end I did realize what the most important thing was:
Finding a way. Leading the way.
How can I expect my kids to behave in a way I don’t behave myself?
How can I be an example to them if I do not follow the example Christ set before me?
I have some work to do.
Here’s Changing Pointe’s Vimeo link if you have some time:
Funny how sometimes things just fall into place.