I had an experience today here on the lake, that I knew I had to write about on this blog.  As most of you know, Judy and I have a small retreat house on the lake where we live.  I call ourselves a “monk” and a “nun.”  This gives us a focus as to what our life is all about here on Man lake.  I am not a big fisherman and don’t get into a fishing boat that often.  So I am a bit “sports challenged” when it comes to being a northwoods fisherman.  At 70 I am starting a new learning curve.

Well, I have partnered with my son Kurt, to begin using his 16 ‘ boat to do some fishing.  But today was not a good start to this partnership.  I had to take the boat through a narrow and shallow channel to another lake in order to put the boat on a trailer to bring for repairs.  I had not taken a boat that big through the channel before.  It was windy and I had to use a small trolling motor for the first time to maneuver the boat.  Judy’s uncle, Stanton, who is an “expert” in everything to do with fishing, was kind enough to help me get the boat unto the trailer. Thank you, Stanton.  

Now for the kicker!  I had a very difficult time getting the boat through the channel as well as setting it up to get on the trailer.  Stanton watched patiently while brother Al tried his best to get the boat to cooperate.  Needless to say, I was embarrassed, humilated and frustrated at my lack of “boating skills.”  Here I was failing in the presence of the recognized “expert fisherman” of our lake.  I know at least one other neighbor witnessed my plight as well.  As I struggled, I realized that I did not feel shame, nor was I self condemning in ways that I have been in the past when I was feeling such failure in the presence of another “male expert.” 

I not sure why, but the passage that came to me was from Hosea 11:4.  I take this passage personally for myself.  “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.  To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”  I simply had the sensation that my heavenly Father was tenderly loving me in my moment of shame and embarrassment.  I could ever joke about myself with uncle Stanton, saying “hold on, I going to make it.”  I could accept the reality that I am simply “a monk” living on the lake and am not an “expert fisherman.”  I could say to myself, “It is o.k. to feel like a failure.  This is not that important to your well being and the sense of who you are, Al.” “Wow,” I thought, “this is real growth for a you, Al.”

Men, I give this testimony for anyone of you who get into situations where you feel shame or embarassment about who you are.  What has made the difference for me is that I have learned to receive the love that my heavenly Father has for me in being just who I am and not for what I do.  Experiencing God’s love for you at the heart level, will begin to free you from the need to present yourself as someone you are not.  You will be able to face reality.  Reality is who you really are, not who you pretend to be.   This bring freedom and acceptance.  I felt some of that today.  I was surprised but it brought joy to my heart.