Patient: Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.
Doctor: I didn’t really have a choice. You barged in without an appointment.
Patient: It was an emergency.
Doctor: Everyone says that. You know what, it doesn’t matter. What’s bothering you?
Patient: I’m having relationship trouble.
Doctor: You know I’m a physician, right? Couldn’t we talk about this at church on Sunday?
Patient: Sure, but you said to get in touch if I needed anything.
Doctor: It’s really just an expression. *Sigh* Go ahead.
Patient: Like I said, it’s my relationships. Lately, people have been ending conversations with me before we’re done. Abruptly. Maybe I stink.
Doctor: Excuse me?
Patient: I’m wondering if I smell bad. You know, body odor, bad breath, something like that. That seems health-related, right?
Doctor: Are these conversation problems only happening in person?
Patient: No. On the phone, too. In fact, my mom bailed on our weekly talk after just five minutes last night.
Doctor: Well, I think I know your problem, but I need to do a test. Let’s do some role-play conversations.
Patient: Sure, anything.
Doctor: OK, let’s pretend we’re catching up after the weekend. I’ll start. Good morning!
Patient: Hello! How was the weekend?
Doctor: It was good. Nice to be away from work for a bit, you know? My son had his last soccer game on Saturday morning, and—
Patient: Oh yeah? My son played soccer too. He never really liked it. No matter where they put him on the field, he wasn’t interested.
Doctor: Hmm. We’re getting somewhere. Let’s try one more conversation. We’ll talk about our childhood. I’ll begin.
Doctor: I grew up in Michigan, outside of Detroit. I’m the youngest of three brothers. My father—
Patient: Oh! I’m the youngest in my family too! I wasn’t even 8 when my siblings started leaving the house. I don’t know my oldest sister well at all.
Doctor: OK, I know your problem.
Doctor: Yep. You’ve got Me-Too Disease.
Doctor: Me-Too Disease. You’ve got an acute version.
Patient: I’ve never heard of it.
Doctor: Most people haven’t. But it’s everywhere.
Patient: How did I get it?
Doctor: It’s genetic.
Patient: Wow. My parents never mentioned it.
Doctor: If you want to know the truth, everyone has it. Some are better at hiding it than others. You—you’re not good at this.
Doctor: Me-Too Disease is a condition of the heart. Your focus on yourself is so dominant that you relate everything you hear, see, or learn to your own situation. This is what you do in conversations. You listen only long enough to find a springboard for a story about yourself. Then you interrupt.
Patient: Wow. I guess I can see that. Is there treatment?
Doctor: Yes. You—
Patient: Let me guess: eat well and exercise, right? That’s what you doctors always say.
Doctor: No, not this time. Although you really should—
Patient: Everybody’s eating kale now. I don’t have to eat kale, do I?
Doctor: No way. No one should eat kale.
Patient: Well, what’s the treatment?
Patient: Excuse me?
Doctor: I know this doesn’t sound very doctor-y, but the treatment is love.
Patient: I don’t understand.
Doctor: Your focus on yourself—it’s deadly. Maybe not for your body, but for your soul. And you’re seeing it in your relationships.
Patient: Oh boy. You’re about to Jesus-juke me aren’t you?
Doctor: You want your doctor to tell you the truth, right?
Patient: You’re right. Go ahead.
Doctor: Your obsession is natural, but it’s all wrong. God made us to worship him, not ourselves. So you’ve got everything backwards. And, to be honest, God hates it.
Doctor: When I said earlier that the treatment for Me-Too Disease is love, that starts with God. We should love other people and care for them. But that’s impossible without God’s love for us. Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection bring us to God, but they also make it possible to love others. His love transforms us to love him and others.
Patient: I’ve heard this a lot at church.
Doctor: There’s more to say, but our time here is up. Especially since, you know, you didn’t make an appointment.
Patient: Got it.
Doctor: Let’s get together for coffee sometime and we can talk more about it, ok?
Patient: Sounds great.
Doctor: Oh, one more thing.
Doctor: I was serious about the kale.
Photo Credit: Vic (2011), Creative Commons License