Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. – John 13:1
Chances are you know the claustrophobia that comes with commitment. Pets are only the beginning. Instead of being reminded, “She is your dog,” you’re eventually told, “He is your husband.” Or “She is your wife.” Or “He is your child, parent, employee, boss, or roommate,” or any other relationship that requires loyalty for survival.
Such permanence can lead to panic – at least it did in me.
I had to answer some tough questions. Can I tolerate the same flat-nosed, hairy, hungry face every morning? (You wives know the feeling?) Am I going to be barked at until the day I die? (Any kids connecting here?) Will she ever learn to clean up her own mess? (Did I hear an “amen” from some parents?) Such are the questions we ask when we feel stuck with someone.
There is a word for this condition. Upon consulting the one-word medical dictionary (which I wrote the day before I crafted these thoughts), I discovered that this condition is a common malady known as stuckititis. (Stuck meaning “trapped.” Ititis being the six letters you tag on to any word you want to sound impressive. Read it out loud: stuckititis.) Max’s Manual of Medical Terms has this to say about the condition:
Attacks of stuckititis are limited to people who breathe and typically occur somewhere between birth and death. Stuckititis manifests itself in irritability, short fuses, and a mountain range of molehills. The common symptom of stuckititis victims is the repetition of questions beginning with who, what, and why.
Who is this person? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I listen to my mother?
This prestigious manual identifies three ways to cope with stuckititis: flee, fight, or forgive. Some opt to flee: to get out of the relationship and start again elsewhere, though they are often surprised when the condition surfaces on the other side of the fence as well. Others fight. Houses become combat zones, offices become boxing rings, and tension becomes a way of life. A few, however, discover another treatment: forgiveness.
My manual has no model for how forgiveness occurs, but the Bible does.
Jesus himself knew the feeling of being stuck with someone. For three years He ran with the same crew. By and large, He saw the same dozen or so faces around the table, around the campfire, around the clock. They rode in the same boats and walked the same roads and visited the same houses, and I wonder, how did Jesus stay so devoted to His men? Not only did He have to put up with their visible oddities, He had to endure their invisible foibles. Think about it. He could hear their unspoken thoughts. He knew their private doubts. Not only that, He knew their future doubts. What if you knew every mistake your loved ones had ever made and every mistake they would ever make? What if you knew every thought they would have about you, every irritation, every dislike, every betrayal?
Was it hard for Jesus to love Peter, knowing Peter would someday curse Him? Was it tough to trust Thomas, knowing Thomas would one day question Jesus’ resurrection? How did Jesus resist the urge to recruit a new batch of followers?
John wanted to destroy one enemy. Peter sliced off the ear of another. Just days before Jesus’ death, His disciples were arguing about which of them was the best! How was He able to love people who were hard to like?
Few situations stir panic like being trapped in a relationship.
It’s one thing to be stuck with a puppy but something else entirely to be stuck in a marriage. We may chuckle over goofy terms like stuckititis, but for many, this is no laughing matter. For that reason I think it wise that we study Jesus’ heart of forgiveness to understand what it means to be just like Him. How was Jesus able to love His disciples?
How does stuckititis feel in your life?
Back to that closing question: How was Jesus able to love His disciples?
Have you inflicted someone else with the condition stuckititis? In what relationships?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Which of the characteristics of love listed above can help someone overcome stuckititis? Why?
Which of the characteristics of love listed above has God been developing recently in your life?
Which of the characteristics of love listed above do you most long to sense as a trait in yourself?
Turn those verses from 1 Corinthians 13 into a prayer by substituting your name each time the word love is used. Each time you find yourself saying something incongruent with who you actually are, ask God to transform you into a loving person. Thank God for all the practical ways he has practiced his kind of love in your life, citing examples for each characteristic.
Excerpted with permission from Just Like Jesus Devotional by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2013.
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How would you answer Max’s questions in “Thinking” and “Reflecting” above? Do you have (or are you giving someone else!) a bad case of stuckititis? Come join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear your responses! ~ Devotionals Daily