To Embrace the Maintenance

It’s been written that the Great One Jesus would often withdraw to desolate places and pray. That sort of behavior appears odd in the light of our modern world, doesn’t it? I used to read those passages about Jesus praying and feel inadequate, because so often I’ve tended to view prayer as something like hard work. I might as well have been reading, “…and Jesus often withdrew with shovel in hand and dug ditches for hours…” Now that I’m older, I don’t think it was like that at all. I think Jesus withdrew because he needed a break. He was human, after all. I think Jesus was high maintenance.

In most circles, to call someone high maintenance is to insult him. I doubt there have been many occasions when I used such a label for a person without a note of disdain in my voice. How stupid. The most foolish of errors in this life is not that one should be high maintenance, but for one not to realize that he is high maintenance.

To be needy, to be in want, is to be human

The collective heart of our hurried society is woefully in need of maintenance. Subconciously, at the least, we are aware of this. Around the corner from my work, there is a Starbucks, which is one block down from another Starbucks, and each of these Starbucks are rife with lines of burned out people willing to drop five bucks on a cup of coffee. How many of them really understand what’s driving them there? Few, I imagine. Most are simply looking for a caffeine fix to boost them through another soul-sapping day.

That’s me, most of the time. That’s all of us. I guess it’s time we come to terms with exactly how frail we are. God knows, it’s not an easy thing to admit. It’s much more cathartic to answer young Miss Perry’s admonishment to “ROAR!” than it is to embrace the fact that we are merely human, and thus, needy.

When Jesus was off in those desolate places, praying, I wonder if he ever thought of us – where we’d be today. I wonder if he knew how difficult it would be for us to slow down, isolate ourselves from the clamor of this world, and catch our breath. When Jesus went off to be alone, he didn’t have to worry about being interrupted by someone calling his phone or texting him or his e-mail inbox filling faster than he could empty it, but he did have plenty of other stuff to think about. He had all those scared, lonely, diseased people – all that need – to think about. It must have been difficult for him to shut off those concerns and just be quiet for a time.

In my life, I’ve transitioned from a man who would have described himself as sturdy, resilient, and independent – to a man who is capable at any moment of slipping into a crippling fit of anxiety. For a time, I became angry with this Someone I call Jesus for not “fixing me.” It seems silly now. I might as well have been praying for God to make me something other than human. Now I’m learning I have no choice but to embrace the maintenance, for the maintenance never goes away. It isn’t supposed to.

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