Okay so it’s not a complete load of crap. It is, in fact, a fairly accurate description of how things work. The strong survive. We like to think of ourselves this way. Those of us who can pull ourselves up by our boot straps. Those of us who need the least help. We can get a little further, sometimes the furthest. It feels good to take care of things myself. To never need help. I like to claim I did it on my own. Check me out people. I’m strong. I survived. The strong survive. It’s the American way, ingrained in our independent, individualistic culture. We don’t need other people. And we all know God helps those who help themselves.
But you know what? It’s a complete load of crap. It may be true that if we are the strongest we can survive but is that really the way we want to live? Is surviving really all we are going for here? Is that the goal? Or is the goal to thrive? Not just to survive but to live? Really live.
I think most of us know it’s a load of crap. That isn’t news. We know the goal isn’t to climb the highest, at the expense of others. We know surviving at the expense of someone else isn’t really what we are going for. But look around. We live that idea out everyday without even thinking about it. Survival of the fittest flows from our lips so smoothly. Schools that say nope, only the strong survive here in the mainstream classroom. No, not at our school. We can’t help you. We can’t have your kid here not keeping up with the strong ones. Shoppers that say, please get out of my way, I’m in a hurry, your child (or adult) who’s struggling to walk down the aisle, he’s getting in my way. An entire culture of career that says if you can’t hack it or need a little help, get out. This isn’t for you. Sports and swim lessons for preschoolers and toddlers that say sorry, your differently-abled kid can’t participate. We are busy helping the strong ones over here. And worst of all, churches, where we say, your flapping arms and odd noises are distracting me from getting what I need out of this thing. Survival of the fittest at its finest. It’s etched in the ways of our culture. Slow down cause you had a baby. No way. Adopt? But won’t that take away from my family? My strong kids? Help a co-worker who learns the job slower than me? What if that sets me back in my work? My goals? And ask for help? Me? No way. It’s not happening. Not going to let that weakness show.
I don’t want to just survive and I don’t think you do either. I don’t want to be impatient at the store, but I have places to be. I want the best for all my kids and its not fair if your kid takes away from that. I want my husband to be recognized for his hard work at the office and I don’t want someone else slowing him down. And church. I don’t catch very many breaks and when I need to be filled up, I really need it. And every bit of every message we’ve been learning. Watching, listening, receiving from our culture, says that those things are ok. It’s ok for me to take care of me and mine. It’s the American way. Survival of the fittest. It’s only natural.
But I’m not a slave to the things that come natural to me. Staying up to late and sleeping in comes real natural but then I just barely survive. Eating sweets instead of what’s good comes oh so natural to me. But it doesn’t help me thrive. I have the power to make a different choice. To chose to go against what comes natural because it isn’t best for me. Because I want to thrive and live and love, not just survive. I have to rewire my brain. Rewrite the rules this world has taught me. Learn a new way to think. A new way to see. All the rules, the ones about staying in the seat. About protecting myself from danger and pain. Inconvenience even. I’m driven. I’m on a mission and everyone else comes second. But they don’t have to. I can do both. I can make a different choice.
I say survival of our species hinges on that different choice. Because where do we draw the line? Who’s the fittest? Who gets to decided? And when does it end? When there’s only one left standing? The truth is none of us have done this on our own. From our tiny infant bodies, every single one of them, relying on someone else to just plain stay alive. To the mainstream kids in school who still require their shoes to be tied and their snacks to be opened. To that first job, the one none of us knew how to do until someone taught us. To the days when a migraine strikes, a car wreck, a disease we never could have expected. What happens when I’m not the fittest anymore?
When I’m patient at the store, I might be late. I might not get all the things I need, but I see the tear filled eyes of a mama match mine, in thankfulness and my patience overflows. Stronger. When I see my kid step away, take a minute out of their learning, playing, growing, to pull another kid along, that’s when they’re really learning. Growing. Stronger. When I take in the moment of a sweet little one, sitting in front of me, having a moment of freedom as they sing and dance and clap and holler at all the wrong times. Their joy fills my empty soul. I am stronger. When my husband tells me the story, the chance he might have missed because he spent his much needed hours walking that guy through what he couldn’t do alone, oh do I love that man so much more. His heart. His sacrifice. It makes me better. Stronger.
We all have a line. Sorry you require too much help, too much patience, too many modifications. We know we need to help but only to a point. We go so far, pat ourselves on the back and call it good. But what if one day we don’t make the cut? What if suddenly it’s me? We need to move our lines, stretch our brains, wrap our minds around this idea that maybe survival of the fittest isn’t really what we all want. It may be the world we’ve created but we aren’t living. We are competing. Measuring. Comparing. We are dying. We don’t have to live like that. We don’t have to just survive. We can love and live and thrive. And it’s full and joyful and it’s Jesus. True strength comes in contributing to the survival of us all. That is ingrained in our hearts. And I’m telling you, it’s so much better than just surviving. Will you give it a try? Will you walk with me, use your strength with mine? To lift others up and let them in. For the survival of us all.