Fear and pain are an unpleasant certainty in this thing we call life. If you were to take a look at my left arm these days it would likely look pretty rough. It’s not uncommon to see red marks, scabs, and bruises. Most of the bruising is hidden by my skin tone, but I can feel it. It’s sore, it hurts, and it’s ok. It’s ok because I know my pain is not the problem, it’s the symptom. It’s a symptom of someone else’s pain. Before you go down the rabbit hole of calling the police on ghostdad, he is not the one causing my pain. My pain comes from Teag’s. In a super unusual season of life last year we discovered that when Teag’s is hurting she uses me to express it. Is it pleasant? No. Do I like it? No. Do I want to find another option for her to express herself? Yes. Can I change it right now? No, I can’t because right now she does not have the words to say or express how she feels, so she communicates the way that she knows to communicate.
How many times lately have we seen this play out? Right now in our world fear is the name of the game, and it is a nasty game to play. I have spent some time lately looking around trying to observe and take in the culture. I have written before about compassion and the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. That idea though becomes very difficult when in our own hearts and spirits we are being crushed by fears, whether they are rational or irrational.
Fear is a very real thing. It can overtake us - mind and body, driving even the most rational people to make irrational decisions.
It drives hurt and pain that could other wise be redirected. Everything around us right now is pushing us toward a state of fear. Covid and the election are on the top of that list. Every time you turn on the television or the radio, open your phone, or a magazine, there is another commentator or article expressing a hopeless scenario.
So what can you do? Do you succumb to the fear and pain that comes with it, or run away from it? I say press into it. Press into the fear and the pain with the truth. The truth of any situation or circumstance can be clouded by the weight of fear but it doesn’t make the truth any less real.
Press into the fear and the pain with the truth.
The reality is that there are very few things in our life we have full control over. We like to think we are in control, that money can solve a problem, or the right food, or the right candidate. The truth of the matter is that there is really very little we can control in our lives.
I cannot control my feelings. My feelings are very real, however irrational. But I can control how I respond to them. Every time I look out around me I see and hear people expressing extreme fear of future of the country, of their health, of their very lives. But just like I cannot control the futures of my children, I am not in control of the circumstances I am surrounded by. This does not mean that I throw my hands up and say, "screw it I just won’t even try", although somedays that feels easier. What it does mean is that I can direct my focus to what I can control: my thoughts, my heart towards others, the way I choose to see, and serve.
The joys of this life are often experienced with such vibrancy because we also understand the depths of fear and pain.
Although there is darkness and evil all around us, we get to choose whether or not it cripples us with fear or whether we choose to overcome it. We overcome it by turning our focus away from ourselves and seeking to serve the world that is around us. It is important to find people that encourage us that way. I cannot change covid, or electoral candidates any more than I can control Teag’s brain damage. But, I can control how I see her. I can control that I see what she brings to the table even if it is not what I envisioned - even in moments when it was terrifying to see in those early days. I cannot control the atrocities in the world around me right now, but I can find a way to serve those suffering because of them. I can choose what my contribution is to this life and fight for that. That means that, at times, I will experience pain at the hands of someone else. But then, I can also remind myself that while I may feel my pain is undeserved, or ill-placed, I still get to choose to show love, grace, and truth, and let that be my legacy.
I know fear and pain will come. Feeling them is a part of doing life. The joys of this life are often experienced with such vibrancy because we also understand the depths of fear and pain. However deep those feelings are, I will always choose to let myself grow through them instead of becoming crushed under the weight of them. That is the legacy I choose for myself, regardless of how life challenges me.
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