Sunday, August 22, 2004

Afraid To Look

When I am afraid, I will trust in You- Psalm 56:3

I don't remember a lot about my father, I mean about his personality - his inner thoughts. I remember his features and his flaws, but he died before I was old enough to have deep discussions with him. The types of talks where you gain true insight into a man and his beliefs. The long talks.

In most areas of my life, I've always been cautious. I was never the kid who climbed to the highest branch in the tree...when I've been atop buildings or mountains I stay a little further from the edge than many folks I know. I tend to avoid things that make me uncomfortable.

I do remember talking to my Dad about my fear of heights. We were overlooking something and I said I was frightened...frightened I might fall.

He said, "I have a fear of heights too, but you know I'm not afraid of falling...I'm afraid I might jump."

It was a stunning thing to say really...especially to one's child, but I don't think he was thinking about the potential repercussions of the remark, he was simply being honest about what it was he really feared.

My blog friend bobbie wrote recently about some new struggles in her family's life. She was afraid of what's to come, and she wrote about the temptation to jump...into what at first blush might look like an easy solution. Ironically it's the exact place she and her husband literally spent years clawing their way out of not too long ago.

It was passing thought. Sensibility returned when bobbie looked at it...honestly.

Last night, as Gordon, Chuck and I sat around my living room -three guys in their 40's - as pitiful as it sounds, the conversation turned to prostate exams and how many men fear them. Most guys I know, if they even get around to discussing the subject, will invariably say they haven't had one because they don't want to be "manhandled", some have even acquainted it with prison rape. Others tell excruciating tales likening the process to torture.

I'm certainly not going to tell anyone that a prostate exam is enjoyable (although I'm sure if you search the Internet there are probably entire web pages devoted to people who are thrilled by them- if you Google that and find that to be the case, don't tell me, please), but in truth the tests aren't really painful, a bit embarrassing certainly and awkward, but the entire ordeal lasts maybe 15 seconds. I say this from the perspective of someone who has had more than one and still is not the type of person who climbs to the highest limb of the tree.

So why do men fear them so?

I believe what they really fear is not the awkwardness, or the embarrassment, or even some warped assault on their masculinity...I believe men don't really fear prostate exams at all.

They fear the results. They fear finding out they might have cancer.

I personally know at least 4 men who have had prostate who are alive and doing fine. Cancer free. I have known several others who died from the same disease. They were all afraid....but those four men who are alive looked over the edge, into the abyss. They saw their fear and named it honestly.

There's more power in that than I think we realize.