Some medical procedures have an element of “glamor” about them.
For example, recently Mark Altrogge wrote about “My new career as a stent man,” perfectly (and hilariously) capturing the “glory” of successfully coming through such a serious operation. Doubt he would have been so funny or transparent if it had been something like hemorrhoid surgery or greasy, messy psoriasis treatments!
In the past 12 months I’ve experienced both medical “humiliation” and medical “glory.” On the humiliation side, a year ago I had a double hernia operation following an over-ambitious Tae Kwon Do move. I think I forgot to blog about that….and why are you sniggering?
On the “glory” side, God graciously spared my life in April when I experienced a DVT and multiple blood clots on both lungs. That evoked lots of interest and sympathy, and even seemed to give me “street-cred” with some. Definitely worth a blog or five.
So just what is it that makes one medical problem bloggable and another forgettable?
I’ve been pondering that question as I’ve been recovering from yet another painful surgery in the last few days, a surgery I had decided to keep “low-key” because, as I told the few that had to know, “I don’t want to become known as the Seminary’s drama queen.”
Part of the answer is the position of the particular problem. For example, while we can spend hours talking about our broken leg, or our heart scare, “How’s your colon?” is still a bit of a conversation-stopper.
But there’s something more than the problem’s physical location that determines the level of disclosure, isn’t there.
We divulge what will make us look good and we withhold what we think will make us look weak.
The sharp scalpel of this humbling truth cut me to the heart a couple of days ago as I was listening to Dr Eric Johnson’s superb CCEF lecture on depression (#17 here):
In the light of Paul’s teaching on weakness, to the extent that a counselee’s depression is a weakness, what might a counselee be encouraged to do? To learn how to boast in his or her weakness. I know that’s kind of strange sounding. This is a radical paradigm shift, and as I think about this it requires care in how it is addressed….Paul turned things upside down. We’re all so ashamed of our weakness aren’t we, by nature. We find it hard to admit our weaknesses to one another. And so one of the things the Holy Spirit did through Paul in 2 Corinthians was say, “Let’s turn our weaknesses into strengths. Let’s recognize that God gets glory through our weaknesses.”
Yes, Paul gloried in his weaknesses – especially the humiliating ones – because God (not Paul) was glorified in them. He did not selectively divulge what weaknesses would help his image. He listed all his weaknesses, all his indignities, all his humiliations, and then “boasted” of God’s sufficiency in them (2 Corinthians 11:23-30). He knew that the more his human clay was exposed, the more divine grace would sparkle and shine.
Some questions remain, of course. Do we tell everyone everything – a la Facebook? Or do we disclose selectively – a la Google circles? The answer will probably vary for each person and situation. However, wherever we land on this, we could probably all challenge ourselves more regularly with the questions: Why am I disclosing this? Why am I hiding this? Who’s image is being burnished and enhanced here? God’s or mine?
As for me, it’s the first time I’ve had two surgeries in one week! Both Dr Figg’s and Dr Johnson’s scalpels were painfully necessary, but hopefully both will also produce long-term health.