Flat-Out Denial

Many of you might remember I purchased a new to me pickup truck last fall. As I told my parents, it sorta fell into my lap so what was I supposed to do? You know when you get such a good deal on something that it seems more expensive NOT to buy it? I’ve finagled that logic in my mind over my 59 years of life – I don’t think that mental time was completely wasted, mostly. To the joy of my heart, I love driving this pickup, most especially when there’s snowfall which we’ve had very little of this year. But when it has, my 4-wheel drive has worked magnificently. And, it might be that when you don’t have sand in the bed of the truck, you can take the 4-wheel drive out of the picture and in safe places (don’t try this at home) that are wide open, you can have some fun with some slip-sliding and spinning, from what I hear allegedly. A little like the old game crack-the-whip, the most fun was always being the end person, always the most risky, but the most fun.

My truck love has clearly not waned, but . . . the tires need aired up on a regular basis. I know this happens frequently in the winter, and I’m certain a scientist could explain the connection between cold temps and tire-air reduction, and warm temps and tire-air expansion, probably in a way that is easily understood. But without a scientific explanation, this isn’t that. They slowly lose 7-10 psi (impressive, right?) over the course of 5-7 days. I think that’s not good. Initially it’s like, I clearly need four new tires, and that is perhaps true, but . . . I also understand I may be having a problem with the rims. Really? When you purchase a vehicle from an owner, there isn’t a warranty. I suppose there wouldn’t have been from a dealership either for a 10-year old vehicle.

Yesterday was a cold one. I needed to drive across town and I looked at the gauge and it said the tires were down from the right amount by 12 and 15 psi respectively. Even I knew that wasn’t good. So I looked for air. I wasn’t in my own neck of the woods, so I’m driving and scoping gas stations looking for their air pumps. First stop, put my quarters in, machine doesn’t work – wasted money, wasted time, perhaps impure words said by pastor. Second stop, put quarters in, machine works, lasts long enough for only one and a half tires – money not wasted exactly, time a little bit wasted, less impure words said aloud but maybe some negative thoughts by pastor. Third stop . . . THIRD STOP! Free air, thank you Jesus (and QT) finished the half tire and the other two. Happy pastor, no impure words or thoughts by pastor, a small temptation to enter the store for a lottery ticket but UM pastor knows that’s against the Book of Discipline so pastor turns away and just says NO! Plus she may not have wanted to be around unknown people who may/may not have been wearing their masks over their noses as well as their mouths. PEOPLE, IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

Lottery-ticket-less I continued my journey to my destination, now with dirt on the knees of my slacks, and grease or something on the fingers of my hands, and I decide this has got to stop. Searching for good air pumps as if hunting for the gold at the end of the rainbow is not how I want to spend my quality time in my truck nor do I want to show up at destinations with unkempt clothes and hands. Life is more than free QT air, and it’s too late to ask Santa or even my moom and dude for a Christmas present air-compressor for my home use. It’s time to take the time to stop reacting to the symptom and respond toward a resolution. It may take a longer segment of time in the moment, but likely save time and less than pastor-ey thoughts and words, over the course of the long-haul.

You know where I’m going from there, right? I mean I am a preacher and teacher and all. How much time do we spend in denial of treating the root of a problem, and think if we keep simply duct-taping the small break, or WD-40ing the nagging squeak, or two dollar and fifty-centing air in the tires, finally we can escape facing the larger issue? We do that in relationships, whaaaaaat? We do that with our vocations/callings in life sometimes, oh but say it isn’t so? And we even do that with our faith, reeeeeealllly?

Hey Jonah, I want you to head on out to Nineveh, that great city, and tell them if they don’t turn around toward God, the city will be destroyed. Gee Lord, thanks for the offer, I don’t really like them so

I’m just going to go ahead and get on a boat going the other direction. (Jonah 1-4) Running away, that ought to solve everything.

Hey Cain, where’s your brother Abel? You’ve got to be kidding, how am I supposed to know, am I my brother’s keeper? Excuses and denial, God loved that solution. (Gen. 3)

Yo, brother disciples, Mary Magdalen and a bunch of other women went to the tomb this morning to attend to the body of Jesus and he wasn’t there, he is risen. Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding, that’s just an idle tale and we simply don’t believe you. How’d that unbelieving work out for you, Peter? Thank heavens, quite literally, not very well, eh? (Luke 24:10-11)

See how good we are, you know, at deciding if there’s a reality we don’t want to acknowledge, we can use the genius of our human creativity to avoid it for as long as possible? Most of us human beings really are quite gifted at avoidance, denial, and sometimes downright refusal to accept reality. Because sometimes we’re afraid we won’t survive whatever the reality is, or maybe we even think if ever do start dealing with the truth, we won’t have the courage to face ourselves and our brokenness and the humility it takes to admit when we are wrong.

You do realize NONE of us are alone in this – it’s simply a part of the human condition. The question is really whether or not we trust God for courage, for strength to persevere, and waaaaay for forgiveness – whether or not we believe God can forgive us, whether we can ever forgive ourselves, and the possibility of asking for forgiveness from anyone we’ve wronged, regardless of whether they will grant it or not. That all takes sooooo much humility.

What would make us engage in facing reality at that level? Imagine the freedom in the truth of God’s love. Seriously, just imagine it! Imagine no longer having to work so hard to convince ourselves or somebody else that we’re something that we’re not. it’s really the genius of Alcoholics Anonymous from which we faith communities could learn so very much. You come in as you are and you stand and say your name and speak aloud your particular addiction, and you are welcomed and greeted by the group by name with hospitality and without judgment. A sign of both acknowledgment and respect for the courage to name yourself and be vulnerable out loud. And it’s not simply once a week! You can go to as many AA meetings as you want in a day or a week and be accepted every. single. time. Yes, I do think that church communities could learn from them.

My psi is only down 4 this morning from the filling of the air yesterday. That could all be the cold. Tomorrow I’ll face the reality of taking the pickup in to someone who can do a true evaluation, or maybe Friday – de-nial ain’t just a river in Egypt . . .