“Offer It Up”

It was one particularly cold and dreary March day in 1971, (as only a March day can be in London, Ontario), complete with dirty melting snow banks, dead grass, and puddles.   Large matted snow flakes fell slowly to the ground, dissolving on contact, betraying a lack of enthusiasm for the winter that was passing.

I was 10 years-old and was sitting beside my mother riding home on the #7 Springbank Bus from where, an hour earlier, we had left Dr. Miller’s dental office and a root canal procedure on my right front tooth – a tooth I had cracked in half after flying – literally – over the handlebars of my bicycle and landing face-first on the asphalt 150 yards from our house.  We were half way home on a 30 minute bus ride, when the anesthetic began to wear off.

After two hours of hell, akin to the torture scene in Marathon Man (1976), the aftermath of all the drilling, grinding, and impacting, began throbbing in the roof of my mouth.  I was in agony.  As any 10 year-old does, I began moaning, begging my mother to do something – anything to relieve me of the pain that was overwhelming me. Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do to help me.

With every minute, and every eternal stop, the pain grew and grew, and with it, my complaints. Mom leaned over to me and said, “Im sorry, Pat, there’s nothing I can do till we get home.”

“But it hurts!” I whined.

Having said everything else she could think of, in helplessness, she said, “Offer your pain up to God.”

I had to stop and think about that for a moment.  Then, having decided it was useless counsel, and in my anger that my mother could do nothing for me, I moaned, “O that doesn’t do anything!”  The walk home from the bus was unbearable, a WWII death march of sorts, my face throbbing with each step.   When we got home, I got aspirin and ice cream.

Offer it up? What an unacceptable answer to a 10 year-old!  Yet, all these years later, it is a moment with my mother I’ve never forgotten.   She was not then, nor is now, someone to dispense that kind of ‘religious’ talk, but now I see the wisdom of her counsel.

There are times navigating the masculine journey when we’re faced with situations we can do nothing about: illness, a sudden job loss, the choices others make, etc.   When we’re powerless to affect a situation, “offering it up” is the only wise option.

It is not defeatist, nor is it giving up; it’s accepting that more often than not, in many situations, we are powerless to do anything about the problems of life. This seems obvious, but I know in my own life, I can get myself so wound up about things that are beyond my control (my personal bogeyman: what others think of me) that I fret and rob myself of present moment contentment.

Offering it up, puts boundaries in our lives and gives back responsibility to people, circumstances, and situations that are not ours to control.  Some things are best left in God’s hands.  It seems the only decent way to approach things.

I asked my mother if she remembered saying it to me and she replied, “I said that?”

“You sure did, Mom.”

“Oh my God, I sound like my mother!”

The front one on the left

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , | Posted on April 5, 2014

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