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I have finally found what I wasn't looking for

Updated: Apr 3




The Irish band U2 has claimed that it still hasn't found what it's looking for for almost four decades now (lavish alliteration intended...haha!!). Although I doubt the truth of this claim--U2 has certainly found its place in rock-n-roll history, found its voice in the fight against poverty and bigotry, and found its poetic soul in such iconic songs as "One," "Pride," and "Where the Streets Have No Name"--I can certainly empathize with the underlying sentiment. Ambition, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, compulsive "comparisonism" (i.e., continually comparing oneself to others), and other unfortunate narcissistic-type notions can conspire to leave us feeling unfulfilled, even when, in reality, we have much to satisfy us. I certainly fell into this trap for many years. My particular "ailment," as it were, was a toxic combination of obsessive ambition and perfectionism driven by an unhealthy desire to please those around me (e.g., parents, teachers, extended family, friends, etc.). As my desire to do more and to do it perfectly grew over the years, and as I simultaneously realized that my finitude and countless imperfections precluded me from ever finding these holy grails, I became woefully (and by this I mean utterly, positively, and without-a-doubt woefully) dissatisfied with my life. Of course, I kept these emotions hidden and continued to parade the facade of contentment and confidence. But inside I was reeling...always hoping for my "big break"--that moment when I would finally reach my winsome goals, reach them in perfect fashion, and make everyone happy along the way.

Naturally, that day never came. But what did come was much better. As I laid in the emergency room of the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, UT, and awaited the report from my attending physician, I expected to hear what I had heard many times before when I experienced the symptoms that drove me to the emergency room that morning. I fully expected the doctor to swagger through the exam-room door with that same smile that I had seen on a half dozen other occasions and say something like, "All your tests came back fine, Mr. Tinsley. You are the paragon of health." But this time, the corners of his mouth were downturned and his affect much more sullen. When he told me of my condition (in great, excruciating detail, I might add), I knew my life had reached a decisive turning point. Things would never again be the same for me or my family. He explained that although my aortic-root aneurism was not of the size necessitating immediate surgery, I would need to be under the care of a cardiologist for (most likely) the remainder of my life. He also noted that the size of my aneurism could begin causing aortic-valve insufficiency in the days ahead, and so I needed to follow up with a cardiologist immediately upon return to Virginia. Let me tell you...that plane ride from Salt Lake City to Baltimore (via Houston) was the longest one I have ever taken...as well as the loneliest and most tearful.

Yet, by the time the wheels of my plane touched down in the Charm City, I had experienced several notable revelations. First, I realized that I'm not yet dead (not so much a revelation as a perspectival shift) and that I still have a beautiful wife and five marvelous children at home who need a strong husband and father. Secondly, I embraced for the first time in my life the absolute frivolity of my incessant ambition and perfectionism. Sure, I had considered such a notion in the past, but it had never really taken root. On a runway in Baltimore, MD, on a balmy June evening, all of that changed. And finally, I understood how truly blessed my life has been. God has given me so much...an extraordinary family, a good mind, reasonable athletic ability, a genuine desire to help and serve others, many wonderful friends over the years, a comfortable home with fantastic neighbors, adequate financial stability, fabulous professional experiences, and, most importantly, an inalienable assurance of eternal salvation. If one is searching for something or some group of things, then what more could he want? Or if he is searching for the wrong thing(s), then how much more blessed is he when he receives that which he was not looking for? As rhetorical as these questions may appear, they are not so to me. Unlike Bono, The Edge, Larry, and Adam who have been searching for an object they still haven't found, I have finally found those things for which I was never searching...and that has made me a satisfied and blessed man, indeed!

Thank you, my Lord!

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