Choose Your Crutch WiselyTemitope Oyetunji
Growing up I wasn’t very studious but I still did so well in exams.
I had this belief I possessed a mojo that made me ace exams; a belief reinforced by every exam I wrote throughout my primary and secondary school days, until I had to write UME.
My mojo failed me terribly in this particular exam, in a way I never thought possible, and not only did it disappear on me that once, till today, I do not know its whereabouts.
Do I now fail exams? No. But most of the time, I don’t ace them either; now I get results commensurate with the level of study I put in.
A crutch is a device, usually made of metal or wood, designed to provide ambulatory support to people with disabilities or other problems affecting the lower limbs.
A crutch can also be used colloquially to describe a nonspecific coping or support mechanism which may be of a psychological, physical or other nature.
As I have come to understand, my mojo – a form of psychological crutch that I depended on to get me through exams back in the day, was my intuition; pristine and fairly accurate in my childhood and early adolescence.
However, I became dependent on this crutch so much that it reinforced a weakness I didn’t realize I had – an inability to sustain the attention necessary for studying.
So it was, that this unsustainable, albeit ‘result-producing’ arrangement I had with my mojo served me well until 2002 when I wrote my first UME, and came face to face with the disappointment I had set myself up for.
After mourning my dearly departed mojo for a while, I quickly turned to a physical crutch – friends.
By then, my weakness had become a thing, and I had to rely on people to get me through the process of studying which had become a rigour.
Since then, I have depended on acquaintances to get me through the asperity of preparing for exams, hoping they could help me ace them like I once did. Sadly, no one has been able to help me achieve this, they have only been able to get me through, sometimes by the skin of my teeth.
More importantly, I have noticed these people don’t stick around much, they disappoint. They move on like they have the liberty to, and I’m forced to constantly be on the lookout for their replacements.
From this experience, I have identified three problems with crutches, whether they are psychological or physical: they promote unhealthy dependence, which in turn perpetuates an existing disability, and they produce disappointments.
But in spite of these problems that crutches pose, men still need help to navigate difficult times.
MAN OF MANY CRUTCHES
Let me postulate that the man by the pool of Bethesda had a mojo of his own.
A man who remained in such a difficult condition for 38years, must have used some form of crutch to help him get through those years of infirmity.
His hope for healing was wrapped around his belief about the mystical angel who stirred the waters, a belief reinforced everyday he saw someone come out of the pool healed. This was how he got through his day; believing that soon enough that would be him, coming out of the water healed.
The only problem he had was that this psychological crutch, though enough to sustain him, was not sufficient to get him out of that condition, he needed a physical crutch as well – a man who would put him in the waters when it was stirred.
That was how he remained in perpetual disability; depending on the belief that the pool held the key to his healing, and suffering countless disappointments in the hands of men, whom he felt could have helped him actualize this belief.
Then one day, Jesus approached him, got rid of the crutches he was fixated on, and healed him.
But the truth is, even though Jesus ridded him of his old crutches, this man did go home with a new crutch, because the next time he found himself in another situation where he needed help, his thoughts would quickly go back to Jesus – the man who had helped him out when he had no one.
This simply means whoever helps you out of a difficult situation usually ends up becoming your crutch.
But as we have established, men are not the best crutches because they aren’t always there, even the best of them.
If you are in doubt, imagine if this man needed help again after Jesus had been crucified on the cross.
THE IDEAL CRUTCH
Now as a tricenarian, I have witnessed the crumbling of many belief systems that served me well in the past, thus I’ve been forced to reach outside of myself in search of external support from men.
This has worked a few times, but only for short periods. At other times, like the man by the Bethesda pool, I have found myself uttering these same words: I have no man.
But lately, I’m finding out that when you cannot get your psychological crutches to work, or become desolate of physical ones, it’s usually a strategy deployed by God to open your eyes to the ideal crutch you may have been neglecting.
With an ideal crutch, there should be no fear of dependence which may serve to reinforce an existing disability, there should be a guarantee of unfettered access; ascertaining sustainability and precluding disappointments.
However, the arguments that paint crutches in a bad light and label them unhealthy ways of coping with problems, do so because no crutch is able to fulfil these criteria.
THE NEW TESTAMENT CRUTCH
Yet when Jesus was about to leave the earth, he made a promise of sending someone who would fit these conditions nicely:
“And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him for he dwells with you and will be in you”
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth”
In other words, Jesus was saying “I understand that in the time that we have been together, I have served as a physical crutch to you. But now that I have to leave; seeing how anything physical is temporary, I will pray the Father and he will give you another Helper, an ideal crutch, because though you will not be able to see him physically, he will abide with you forever, so depending on him wouldn’t hurt you at all”
“And if you’re wondering if he might perpetuate your weaknesses, don’t think of it. He will infuse you with power so that you will be able to do things beyond your natural abilities, and you will travel widely doing the work I have sent you”
WHO NEEDS A CRUTCH?
It seems to me that everyone needs some form of crutch at some point in their lives, and for believers who have been called to a life that cannot be lived unsupported, a crutch, which essentially is a form of support, becomes indispensable.
People who claim they do not need crutches, do so because they have unidentified ones within them which has continued to serve them very well, and that is why they have never found it necessary to reach outside themselves for help.
But for those of us who find that the crutches that had served us well in the past suddenly desert us in dramatic ways – the way my mojo did – this is a reminder for us not to fall into the temptation to start reaching out to men as substitutes, because while this arrangement may work for a while, it’s bound to break down in the end.
Let me suggest, that if you ever find yourself in need of a way to not only cope with a difficult phase of your life, but be delivered from it into a better place, think Holy Spirit first, and enlist his help.
The Holy Spirit does more good than any psychological or physical crutch can.
Unlike crutches, He doesn’t serve you, He serves the will of the Father, which thankfully is always aimed at giving you an expected end.
With him, there is no fear of over-dependence, he would rather empower you than perpetuate your weakness, and he’d never be weary of you regardless of how often you ask him for help.