I wrote this almost 6 months ago and sat on it. I wanted to make sure that I was not just letting emotional lightning scorch the keys and then publish a vain and wayward post. As I have had my coffee with Jesus over the last several months, I still feel the same way… even though some things have changed. So…
Jealous may not be the word I am looking for, or even the best word to describe what I am feeling, but what I feel seems to feel a lot like jealousy.
And why wouldn’t I be jealous?
I have seen Dan struggle, think, sacrifice, and work like a mule in order to become a pharmacist. (I still don’t see how it is all that hard though, I mean, you’re just counting pills and calling people’s names right? Just Kidding!) I have seen Dan persevere through some mentally and emotionally grueling days and I rejoiced with him and his family when he landed a job. Albeit a LONG commute each day from home and not quite the environment that he had hoped for, but a job none the less.
When we made our detour trip through Washington en route to Japan, Dan picked us up from SeaTac. He told me about this great opportunity that, more or less, just fell in his lap. As Dan was telling me the ins and outs of what was going on, I was getting super excited for him. I felt as though he was scared of committing to this new opportunity. Did I mention that Dan is a calm, quiet, gentle man? Though I was busting at the seams with excitement for him, I tried to temper that and merely encourage him to take the offer, or at least meet with whoever he needed to meet with to see if things really were going to be as good as they sounded. Were it my decision, I would have jumped at it in a heartbeat.
My family stayed with Dan and his family while in town and used his home and backyard as a defacto base of operations. We had many MANY late LATE nights with some of the people we were involved with before we left the Great State of Washington.
Dan sat with me every night that I was there. His house became a revolving door of men, one at a time, or married couples, coming in and going out almost constantly in order to spend time with me or my wife and I (and sometimes just my wife) and Dan was by my side for almost every bit of it. These people would share with us the joys and sorrows, the victories and struggles of their lives over the last year or so and would look to Jessica and I for advice, counsel, and encouragement… which we were STOKED to give. (Something in me just comes magnificently alive when I get to function in this role) I would listen and would engage, all the while noticing that Dan would have his fingers running at mach 3 through the pages of his Bible. At one point it seemed like he had 13 fingers holding 15 different passages of scripture in queue. Dan would say nothing… or almost nothing… most of the time. When he would speak up, I would be blown away by the depth of his wisdom and insight. Every. Single. Time.
When Dan and I would talk after all of the visitors had left, I would be amazed at how concerned Dan would seem. These meetings were adventurous bouts of spiritual and emotional grappling which fuel my fire and leave me refreshed and encouraged at the end of the night. Did y’all catch that? These long hours and stressful, delicate conversations leave me refreshed and encouraged. These meetings are things that I pursue and run after, engaging every chance I get with little hesitation. Like jumping out of the car and running down a wilderness trail with reckless abandon. Dan seemed to view these meetings with… um… well… with what seemed like a bit more maturity. He seemed to be, at the same time, intimidated and confident, simultaneously academic and studious while being deeply burdened and frankly concerned.
This seems to have rabbit trailed from why I am jealous of a pharmacist to simply being a tribute to my Bro-mantic feelings for Dan. I digress.
Why am I jealous of this man? He has been deeply blessed in a very real, tangible, public way. That is what fuels my jealousy. This is such a problem for me. I see Dan’s life and I see the principles and themes present therein and I immediately think that if I apply these to my life, then I too will be blessed in a truly deep, tangible, and public way. If I make the right sacrifices, if I work hard enough, if I study long enough, if I persevere and endure the hardships, then one day I too will be as blessed a man as Dan.
How ridiculous is that?!?!
While Dan did work and sacrifice, he was not blessed because of these things, he was blessed because he was a man of integrity who spent time in the word and on his knees before God. Every conversation that Dan sat in on while I was there was, for him, an exercise in blowing through the scriptures finding dozens of references that applied to EVERY topic we were discussing. That cannot be faked. That cannot be developed in a matter of weeks or even months. That is the evidence of a man who knows the cannon of Scripture. Likewise no amount of hard work alone will result in the kind of blessing in my life that Dan is seeing in his… that is a result of falling broken and contrite, scared and alone at the mercy of Jesus.
And one more thing… why am I chasing His public, tangible blessing with such fervor when what I should be chasing is simply intimacy with Christ?
And if that wasn’t enough, why do I feel so moved and motivated to see such a blessing in my life… as though being healthy, having such great relationships with my wife and kids isn’t enough?
I know. I can be so shallow sometimes.
Dan, if you are reading this, I am proud of you (and I feel a lot like a little boy saying that to an adult).
Truly I am.
I sent this to Dan in order to get his perspective and permission to post this. I sent it to him almost 6 months ago and the following paragraphs are an excerpt from his response. I hope y’all can hear the depth of this mans heart. I have a deep yearning to sit again with this man and his bride by a fire.
When I was reading what you wrote I was really thinking, “I had no idea he thought that way.” I honestly did not know you understood why I am who I am and the beatings required to walk this road.
Things that are true: When I was at [Grocery Store] as a pharmacist, I was taken emotionally and mentally to my very limit. I would have lines of people who had come to speak to me; a couple that had just lost their first child at the very end of pregnancy, a man just diagnosed with a brain tumor, a woman who had just been raped, a mother with 3 children who just found out she had 3 months to live, an old man whose wife of over 50 years had just passed. All of these one after another after another. It wears on you. I do struggle, I feel burdened, intimidated, concerned and find it hard to keep up in conversation with quick thinning people. I do try to be calm and gentle. I want to be mature, studious, wise, insightful, quick-thinking, and easily able to navigate scripture to the exact reference. It is very true that I feel very blessed. God has provided a new pharmacy with an owner who expects me to be in prayer. My wife is a blessing to me and all those she comes into contact with. She is a far better pharmacist than I am and yet she has sacrificed a career which she loves to serve our family and God. My oldest son as a teenager is thinking about others and praying that he and his friends would delight in reading the Bible and loves time together as a family. My younger 2 children have confessed that they are children of God. God has richly blessed us beyond what I could have planned out. Not one of these things is because of me, they are in spite of me.
He says “In spite of me.”
Funny thing is… a few months after he sent me his response, he told me that the new pharmacy job dried up and life again was looking difficult in front of him. His question to me…
And my answer…
Yes, Dan, I am. Why wouldn’t I be?
… and again, Jealous may not be the best word to describe it anway!