Saturday, April 6, 2013

Faith, Fear & Flexibility

Fear is the often trodden road to faith...and flexibility is the gas station along the way.

Faith is the opposite of fear--the belief that every thing's gonna be alright--or the complete confidence in someone or something. Faith in events or people is something we experience every day. I have faith that the guy behind me isn't going to run into me when I stop unexpectedly. I have faith that when I wake tomorrow morning that I will still be able to see. I have faith that the people I'm raising will grow up to become good people.

But what if?

What if that guy runs into me, or I go blind, or (heaven forbid) my kids turn into zombies?

Playing the "what if" game is like supplicating to fear. Imagining all the horrible things that can happen is is the quickest way to rob joy from the moment. Imagining "what if" not only deifies fear but is the emotional equivalent of paddling upstream in a raging river. You're never gonna win.

But what do you do in the dead of night when you wake up worried that your kids are going to get scurvy because they don't eat their veggies? How do you get through the moment imagining that you may be diagnosed with a terminal disease? What do you feel when you picture losing your job, or your spouse or your life savings?

That's where flexibility comes in. Many years ago, we went to visit my parents (don't worry, we've been back since.) We brought with us our darling daughter who walked into grandma and grandpa's house and promptly threw up. I looked at my dad and said, "Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!! We brought the stomach flu to your house!!"
He looked right back at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, we're either going to get it, or we aren't. There's nothing we can do now, but sit and enjoy the moment."

In two sentences my darling dad gave me a profound gift. I can worry about all the things that are probably never going to happen to me, or I can shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, it's either going to happen, or not, so let's enjoy the moment."

I know a lot of people who think that the society we currently live in is on the edge of complete destruction. They proclaim, "Look at that (insert catastrophic current event here.) The end is near!!!" And it may be.
But it may not be.

The reality is, most if us don't know how a simple magnet works, or have a thorough understanding of the period table of elements, know why the sky is blue or what our own blood type is--so how in the hell are we going to predict when the "end" is happening?

I've heard of people hoarding coffee (even if they don't drink it) so they can trade it for goods when the "inevitable" zombie apocalypse/WW III/Armageddon begins.

To me, this is insanity. I get the desire to want to survive, but at what cost? Spending my days prepping my bug-out location robs me of my present joy. To take a page from my dad, "It's either going to happen or it's not." Now, I'm not saying don't be prepared/have some savings/use your common sense, but if you're spending even one moment swiping the coffee from your hotel room to add it to your negotiable apocalypse trading collection, then honey, you're missing the joy in the moment.

I'm talking to myself as much as anyone. I wake up at 3 a.m. every single night worried about this or that. I go through phases where I can't stop thinking about the inevitable doom lurking right outside my door. Other times, I sleep peacefully, unencumbered by the monsters of the deep.

I recently learned a little trick: When I feel that fear begin to encroach upon my peace, I say to myself, "I am the mighty and magic circle of protection that is invincible and repels from me every discordant thought and element that seeks to find entrance or intrude itself. I am at peace."

After taking a deep breath/saying a prayer/turning on a light/getting a drink of water, I feel my faith being restored. As much as I don't want it to be, my faith and my fear are tied together. Without fear (or doubt), my faith (or hope) wouldn't be used. My fear is a gift, as is leads me to the faith that gives me peace and joy and flexibility allows me to be patient, adaptable, and responsive to change along the road to greater Faith.

Because, in the words of my dad, "...all we can do now is enjoy the moment."


Faith, fear and flexibility bring me joy. What brings you joy?

"Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." ~Frank Herbert, Dune


31 comments:

  1. I'm not so big on the faith aspect, but I complete agree with you on the fear. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with worry that I freeze and though I don't have the exact words your father used, I had the sentiment. And once I take a deep breath and think for a second, I can usually squelch my fear and more on. I also think giving into the fear or worry for a few seconds is a good thing: Okay, I can be freaked out for five seconds and then I've got to figure it out! That seems to work for me too.

    Cheers!

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    1. Absolutely. I totally believe in giving my fear a limit too.

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  2. I have JOY in knowing that I am NOT in charge, that God holds me cradled in His Hands.

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  3. That was awesome, Lisa. SO much to think about in this post, and such a great attitude from your father. Here's hoping you are enjoying every minute.

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    1. And here's to YOU enjoying every moment too! xo!

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  4. Yes, I must enjoy the moment. Sometimes you have to hear the same thing said several different ways before one resonates and truly sinks in!

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    1. I have to remind myself daily!!

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  5. Wonderful post, Lisa! Lots there to consider.

    "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape."

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

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  7. Oh my head is a big ole mess of "what ifs". Thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. Mine too, so we are in good company!! :)

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  8. Faith to me is knowing that, even if I get run into by the guy behind me and even get injured, God is still with me, therefore peace can still have its way in me. And if I die, then I'll be with God, so fear is greatly reduced. Although I do fear pain, I have faith that God will enable it to be reduced greatly in some way. Writer’s Mark

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  9. So glad I popped by your blog to catch these wonderfully inspiring words. As a parent, I so relate to the "what if" game, but it really does keep us from enjoying the moment to the fullest. Thank you.

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    1. I don't think I've ever met anyone who doesn't play the "what if" game...we are all in good company!

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  10. Your dad sounds like mine. He's a big believer in not worrying about something unless you can do something about it, in which case why aren't you doing something. Which is the polar opposite of my mother who worries about everything.

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  11. Your comment above about giving fear a limit? Brilliant. Brill-yant. Gosh, lady, how'd you get so wise?

    I am so grateful for faith, which in my view helps give that limit. I don't know quite what I'd do without knowing that He's got the whole world in His hands. Now, the trick for me seems to be living in that mindset, every day.

    Bless you. Always.

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    1. Living in that mindset is mine too. After Shiloh lost his job, I said to him, "When will I feel better?" He looked at me and said, "September 25." And you know...I did. :)
      xo!

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  12. A very relevant post! We are always afraid of an unfortunate incident lurking around a corner!

    There is a Hindi movie titled "Three Idiots". In that the protagonist played by Aamir Khan tells - "Whenever we are afraid, we should tap our hearts saysing - All izz well! all izz well!!"
    When I am very anxious I do try out this technique and it really helps. You try give it a shot to it! :)

    Enjoyed reading the post!

    Dishit from Only the Crazy Survive!!!

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    1. I'm going to try that! "all is well! All is well!" :)

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  13. That is exactly what I tell myself when I feel like something bad might happen. If it happens, well, there's just nothing I can do about it then. But if it doesn't, I don't want to waste my life away hiding and being scared of every little thing that happens. I think God has a plan for everyone and all we can do is go along with it.

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  14. I think I need to print this & read it daily. I'm a worry-wart and the only good that ever becomes of it is when I can say "I told you so." Oddly enough, that really doesn't go over well, help my overall popularity, or provide much inner peace.

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    1. Lol! I know what you mean! I have to remind myself daily to have faith and not worry too...

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  15. Love. Love. Love. I felt like you wrote this for me.

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  16. I like your way of thinking. Thanks for the great post!^^

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  17. Someone once told me..."If you worry and it happens, you've wasted you're time. If you worry and it doesn't happen, you've wasted your time. Worry is a waste of time that changes nothing."

    Great perspective.

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  18. Fear is my little friend that I give a nod to as I move forward with faith. You're right; without fear we wouldn't be using faith to increase our faith. I enjoy reading your posts as I can since I'm out of town and have to use Kent's laptop which I'm not all that familiar with. also, visiting with my kids and grandkids kind of takes precedence to so much computer time, but I like to peek when I can.

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