His name is George, and he has no place to lay his head. He “lives” in a park in Dundalk, a community situated just outside the Baltimore City limits. Most of the time, George can be found in his wheelchair near the fountain located in front of the area Post Office. He calls this home, and as a matter of fact he has a P.O. Box to which his government support checks can be delivered.
So George gets by, and he gets by with a surprisingly easy smile and a quick wit.
He carries on despite what’s missing from his life. This includes the lower part of his left leg and the big toe on his right foot. We would say that diabetes is to blame for these losses.
George doesn’t see it that way.
“Can’t blame nothing but myself,” George explained. “I did it to me by not taking care of things and myself. I miss my drumming, but I’ve been practicing how to drum with the way that I am. I will get back to it somehow.
“Nope, no one did this. I did this.”
George refuses to be bitter. He sees things this way: he has God, he has friends, and he has his fountain – although on this day algae accumulation shut down the flow of water and left a bit of a stench in the air.
I wonder what a detailed study of George’s brain would show. We have been listening to messages in church about thinking with God and the mind of Christ.Toxic thought patterns can be avoided and even overcome, even in the harshest of times. Click To Tweet
This man demonstrated to me that circumstances do not have to define our identities. Attitude really does mean more than DNA. George is a revelation that toxic thought patterns can be avoided and even overcome, even in the harshest of times.
Much is being made of the brain these days. Its chemistry, its construction, and its operating systems are under constant analysis. Great investigations continue in efforts to find out just what makes us who we are.
The science remains far from settled, but that hasn’t stopped the tinkering. The search goes on for the right formulas, the proper physiological balances that will help us be happy, healthy, and safe – for our sakes and for the sake of others.
It’s interesting how all the solutions seem to involve more and more medication. Pills now exist to address our anxiety, our sleeplessness, our anger, and our intimacy, just to name a few issues.
The Power of Accountability
Right chemistry – that’s the ticket to paradise, to utopia even. All of this does serve a kind of agenda, one that removes human responsibility from the equation. It seems designed to erase any sense of accountability.
Accountability is precisely the attitude that “poor” George manifests. He takes himself to task for what’s happened to him. And, don’t try to tell him otherwise. He’s too smart for that.
Too many ignore the reality of the mind. Our minds possess resilience and fabric. There’s spirit and heart to each of us. We remember, we imagine, we comprehend. This all stands above the brain.
We are what we think. This is not new information. King Solomon wrote exactly this in Proverbs 23:7 — “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Love in Mind
What is it that George has on his mind? I believe 1 Corinthians 13 holds the answer. I think George has love in mind – for himself and for those who live with him in that Dundalk park. He might not put it that way. But the evidence suggests that this is what is there.
He is patient and kind. There’s no envy about him. He bears all things, he hopes all things, and he endures all things. He’s also found ways to keep his clothes clean, his beard trimmed, and his doctor’s appointments. When I asked him what I could get for him, he said “tooth paste and a pack of gum.”
George believes, and that’s enough to keep him and his mind: “God is here and He is for me, even though this is what I am.”
George also thinks he has a future – “I won’t be here for too much longer. I got myself put outside the door; I’m going to make it so that I get back through the door.”
For more about thinking with God and the mind of Christ, check out the message “The Glory of Who We Are” by Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.