Imagine being invited to join a race, the very most important race of your life, and one whose finish line represents eternal life with the Lord. Imagine that just to run this race offers a sense of peace and contentment that is said to surpass our ability to understand.
All of the invites announce that there is this race, and that we all start out as “non-participants”, that we are all equal in our lack of previous participation, we are newbies. The further implication is pretty much “hey don’t worry about your fitness level” or preparedness for this race because it is to be expected there will be obstacles and detours along the way, harder for some, easier for others. The organizer of the race personally assures you He will actually run the race with you, and assist you when needed, and offer cool water for the resulting thirst and nourishment for the hunger born of the strain. It’s stated that simply to run this race with all your heart is a winning strategy, and that there will be folks ahead of you and behind you who will all be equally welcomed when the finish line is reached.
But you and many others, roughly half the runners, will receive a follow up letter after accepting the invitation to run. It is billed as an extra benefit set aside for certain potential runners who have a specific set of characteristics. It states that the organizing body recognizes that you have an inherent burden built in by nature that is shared by this 50% of the participants and potential participants. It is written in very sympathetic terms, encouraging, and even allows that the other 50%, those who do not have this innate burden, will bless and support you with lower expectations of your performance and they will do all in their power to help you overcome your inherent disadvantage. In other words they will be understanding and empathetic, they will be so with verve.
But, because a large group of disadvantaged runners like you, if starting at the same starting line as all the other runners would both slow the more prepared runners, and possibly even lead to some resentment among them at having to accommodate you, there was a special track and training program designed to get you into the right condition so that you can start at the same place as the others and not hinder the group, cause anyone to stumble as it were. The letter says “of course we understand that you are fearfully and wonderfully made this way, therefore we want to see you run this race as well as everyone else, so we have devised a way to help”.
Included with this letter are testimonials written both by other racers with your disability. They are clearly tearful admissions of seeming hopeless and helpless racers, wholike they tell you that you can do, had managed to over come the disability. Other letters testified to how even if their disability reared up in mid race after having been beaten back before starting, there were remediation programs to quickly sort the problems out and get you back on track. The racers that do not have the disability had written letters stating that they are committed to be vigilant, and constantly watch you staying on guard for signs that your disability was manifesting again, and they would shepherd you into the right remediation groups and celebrate each time you overcome. In other words, they had your back and would be there to support you. In your weakness their strength and singularity of focus would rise to the challenge. They will triage, then fix you.
Finally there were lists of ongoing programs to help your group relate to the other group by learning how they manage themselves in their daily running of the race, and teaching you to take on many of the winning strategies that come so easy to that other group. One could say the apogee of successful remediation and race running is the mimicking of the other half of the racers. You should try and be just like Mik(a). Likely, you are married to one of the other type racers, and in that relationship in particular if you pay close attention you can avoid the pitfalls to which you are so prone due to your disability.
You find out that the other 50% of the racers also received follow up letters, and those were filled with encouraging stories of how those who are saddled with a partner with this disability, or simply must deal with these afflicted racers daily, can meet in groups to discuss strategies for coping with those lesser racers, and still enjoy the contentment the race affords. There are groups that encourage and lift up those other racers that are struggling with their associations with the disabled racers. And there are groups designed to bring the good racers and the remedial racers together in pairs to hopefully get them more into parity. The programs strain out, like a filter, those unique aspects of the disabled racers, leaving a malleable shell that can be infused with the better characteristics of the unaffected.
If you were already in the race before you realized everything about this perceived disability, it would come as quite a shock if you found these letters and read them. If you’d never run the race or even known about the race, and then heard how wonderful it is, but received these letters in advance, you might have second thoughts about even running the race in the first place, because it seems that the disability to which they refer in the letters is a well recognized one even by people who have chosen definitively not to run in this race. To choose running this race means you will batter your nature and celebrate the nature of the “better angels” of the other runners. To choose to not run this race means you have given over to the darker pursuits that your disability preclude you to by design.
Finally, in the course of the race, should anyone like you, the disadvantaged and disabled runner, gain ground and seem to out pace the other more healthy runners, even though arriving first is expressly of no import, the better more equipped runners will get up in arms that they are not constantly the gold standard, leading and acting as side rails to you and your group. They (This is a big secret because it could even be called a bad characteristic to which this other group is prone.) consequently lay the equivalent of oil slicks and tire spike strips, things that will slow you. These consist of simply adjusting the collective expectations of your group, how all runners feel about the disabled group is taken back a notch. This is done regularly and structurally whether its needed or not, just to be sure.
It is tough to run life’s race while afflicted with being a man.