“Waiting on a hurricane is like being stalked by a homicidal turtle!” I read this statement the other day and thought it was humorous and true. My wife and I have friends up and down the east coast and they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best with Hurricane Florence looming as she’s still deciding when and where to make landfall. The slow-moving storm has people on edge. There’s something to be said for a challenge or difficulty that comes out of nowhere to cause chaos in life and then goes as fast as it came. It’s hard but at least one doesn’t have the agony of waiting.
I was talking with a friend last night about depression and anxiety and the way they steal the joy out of life. It’s a dark storm that hovers filling you with dread as you prepare for the full brunt of the fury. You wait, you pray, you look for signs of the storm passing but it stays in one place and never gives you a true moment’s rest. Your strength is sapped by the anxiety of the approaching darkness and when the storm finally hits its wave and winds batter and beat you into submission. Rest is elusive when something is stalking you, wearing you out with threats and anticipation, and finally, when it strikes, you’re too weak to fight back.
Be kind to each other. You never know the storms that are brewing in each of us.
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I had a conversation last week with someone about a person I used to know who got on my every last nerve almost every day. We talked about how this person, who probably had good intentions, didn’t have a way with people. In fact, there were many who repelled by his brusque personality and crude behavior. I relayed a story about a time he wanted to help but was unable because of who this person was on the inside and outside.
There were days I dreaded knowing I would encounter this man. It got to a point where this person was beginning to take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. One day it dawned on me that I was spending too much time thinking about them and not focused on stillness of spirit. I threw on my tennis shoes, took a long walk, and hashed out in my mind all the things this person did and when I felt I had it all in a nice tight ball in the pit of my stomach, I took it out (metaphorically of course) and threw it away. I decided I would not give this one the power to make me crazy(er?) any longer. It was the freest and at ease, I had been in a long time.
We can’t and will not get along with everyone. Personalities clash, goals and visions collide, certain people and us don’t mix. This is okay as long as we treat them with respect, put some distance between us if at all possible, and never let them steal our inner peace.
My wife called me on Monday and asked me a series of weird questions. “Have you been to Little Caesars? What about a place called Farm Fresh Markets? Have you been to several different gas stations in the last two days?” When she finally took a breath I inquired what was going on and she said we had received alerts regarding several suspicious bank account activities. I assured her I hadn’t made any midnight runs to 7-Elevens or supermarkets in Virginia and Pennsylvania and we immediately canceled the card.
Identity theft. Ugh. We try to be extra careful with all our personal information. We don’t give out account numbers, pin codes, passwords over the phone or in emails. We cover the keypads when using our cards while shopping. We’re cautious to a fault about someone nefarious doing exactly what we thought we were protected against; spending our money, using our names for selfish gain.
We live in a world we’re people are dishonest. It’s hard not to become hardened, bitter, judgmental and overly suspicious.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Love for Enemies “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? …Be good, therefore, as your heavenly Father has been good to you.” the Master, Gospel according to Saint Matthew
Tough times, especially when people purposefully hurt you, inflict pain, sacrifice your well-being for their gratification test our resolve and reveal our true nature, desire, reason for being, doing good.
Why do we help, give, offer ourselves and our resources to others? What do we do when others take advantage, steal, con us?
When it’s not our choice to give, when what we have is taken, our reaction reveal how what we possess can have a hold on us. It also reminds us that what truly matters can never be taken and the greatest treasures are the blessings of grace and acceptance which have been freely, unconditionally given to us.