Touching Life –
I watched a video today about a woman, who is afraid of spiders, try to get past her fear by being in the same room, sitting close to one, and eventually touching one and allowing it to touch her. It was an interesting study of fear, facing what frightens us and hopefully overcoming it.
Being fearful keeps us from participating in all life has to offer. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I am acutely acquainted with fear, in fact, its one of my worst friends. I don’t know the source of my fear. One of the reasons I go to therapy is to hopefully one day discover it. Perhaps its as simple as a chemical imbalance and the right combination of medicines will mostly alleviate the ball of worry and stress which sits on my stomach most days. Maybe its memories or experiences which I’ve buried and one-day uncovering them will set me on the path to a more lasting peace.
Whatever the path I travel I want it to be toward knowing joy, not fear, connecting not being disconnected, living not simply existing.
This morning I went to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist! I went at 7:30AM because thinking about the appointment all day would make my anxiety grow by the hour. This way I wake up and go straight there and get it over. I take my phone and ear buds along with me to listen to, a dose of anti-anxiety medicine, and the dentist provides comforting words, gentle work and a supply of Nitrous Oxide (https://www.google.com/search?q=nitrous+oxide&oq=nitrous+o&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.2956j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8). When I first went to the dentist we sat and talked about my anxiety and claustrophobia issues. He understood and has done a fantastic job making me feel the least anxiety as possible. After it was over I left, slightly woozy but two teeth which needed fillings done completely.
The dentist is one of those things in life you don’t want to do but know have to be done. Know matter how much worry, dread, and procrastination, sooner or later you have to go and if it’s too much later you will regret it. As the numbing in my lips and gums wore off I thought about other things in life we don’t like to do but should. Forgiving people who have hurt us, asking forgiveness of those we have offended, reflecting on difficult and painful situations and asking; “What did I learn?”, allowing wisdom to search the deepest places in our lives, filling the holes in our minds, emotions, and spirits to be filled with kindness, love, and grace. These are never easy but waiting until we are ready might mean we never reach a place of healing and peace.
Someone unexpected came to the front door today and rang the doorbell, followed by several knocks. I’m not sure why by but my anxiety rises when folks come to the house unannounced. I’ve never had something bad happened when a person or group of people came calling I just freeze for a moment, my mind filled with questions; “who is that? what do they want? did we forget we have company coming over? how quickly can we clean up the house?” Most times it’s a girl scout or someone collecting monies for a volunteer organization, a neighbor or friend. In spite of my confusion and surprise the only way to know who it is, what they want, it is to answer the door and go from there.
Life is this way. Many things come unannounced into our life, knocking on our door, barging into our existence. We may want to hide, ignore, hope it goes away but most times it keeps knocking until we answer the door. No matter what it is or what it wants, we must face it, accept it, adapt to it, live with it and learn from it.
I’ve heard of people having the cops called on them but never the neighbors. Yet, that’s what happened to me today.
A couple of weeks ago a couple of mighty storms blew through our area. The winds damaged and loosened some shingles on our house. We had the insurance company out this week and a roofing person but there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow and I wanted to temporarily fix the roof to avoid any leaks. So, this morning I retrieved the ladder and went to work. Our roof is very steep so my wife made me promise last night to text before going up and when I was finished. I did the first part but forgot the second. Midway through another chore I heard the voice of my neighbor; “Brian! Brian!” I stopped what I was doing, and headed to the front yard. There she was and I was confused. Then she said; “your bride was worried and wants you to call her!“ which I immediately did.
After putting my wife’s mind at rest, I smiled and was thankful for someone who loves me enough to call a neighbor and ask them to get in their car, drive over and check to make sure I’m okay. That little neighbor lady and the Mrs. made my day.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for several friends. Many are suffering pain and loss. There has been death, injury, mental diagnosis, health issues, setbacks, financial struggles, legal battles and more. You hurt when others are suffering; feelings of inadequacies, trying to figure out what you can do to ease their burdens lays heavy on your mind and spirit.
Someone in the office asked today; “Why do people bring food to families whose loved ones have died?” A co-worker answered; “Because there’s nothing you can do about death.” I thought this was a good and truthful answer.
There are so many things we can’t do anything about, so much that’s beyond our control. Death, disease, and other extreme difficulties descend on people we treasure and if we could we’d take it away but we don’t have that power.
Accepting our powerlessness is the first step in helping. We are finite beings. We are limited in knowledge, expertise, special abilities and do not posses powers to make all things better by wishing it to be so or worrying obsessively.
Awareness of what we can’t do enables us to see how we can assist those in need. Then we take action. The size of our offering isn’t as important as the spirit in which we give. There is no act of good so small that it’s ineffective. Our hearts propel us to do, not for gratification, but because there is a way to help, love, give hope, be a light to someone living in darkness.
In a group this morning the leader spoke, in part, about fear. Fear leads us to rash actions such as running away from what frightens us.
The leader then shared a story about when she was a child and had gotten in trouble at school. Her teacher promised to call her father and report her misdeeds that evening and she knew this meant a spanking. As she waited for the dreaded call a fear grew inside of her and when the phone finally rang she ran out of the house and hid at the neighbors! She made the comment that during dinner, waiting for the call to come, “she was sitting on the outside but standing on the inside.”
Fear, worry anxiety, has a way of doing this to us. It never gives us rest, allows us to feel at ease, safe, comfortable. For some the fear comes with certain situations and leaves after they’re gone but for others the anxiety never dissipates. The overwhelming worry and sense of dread settles upon them and darkens their view of all things. They may be sitting on the inside but always standing, running, unsettled within.
“Be kind, for some are fighting a battle you know nothing about.” -Philo, Egyptian Philosopher
It’s easy to forget that most scars are hidden, smiles can conceal the deepest hurt, the folks who seem to have it together are the very ones closest to falling apart.