facing our fears

fear What do you fear?

I don’t know about you, but fear has become much more prevalent topic these days than I would like. Terrorism, prejudice-based killings, violent home break-ins, unstable economies, future leader elections, terminal diseases… all invade our media channels and sometimes our personal lives.

My daughter’s university has had two bomb scares in the last few weeks. How can I help her deal with the unavoidable worry and concern that accompanies her days and haunts her nights?

How can I admit my fears but not let them control me?

I know that there are basic common sense choices I can implement – stay away from obvious dangerous surroundings, set up safety precautions, save money and invest wisely, make informed decisions, and proactively protect my health.

However, those actions will never completely protect me from the evil, brokenness, and pain of this world.

That reality causes fear. But fear, rather than control me, can offer an opportunity for reflection, a chance to consider the worst case scenario… what if I am going to die tomorrow? Am I ready?

Am I at peace with my present? 

Am I living each day to the fullest? Or would I have regrets if it were to all end tomorrow? Do I let petty issues make me angry, frustrated, discouraged? Do I have unresolved conflict with someone I love? Have I followed my dreams, given my all, lived by my priorities? Have I spoken my appreciation? Have I hugged and laughed and cried?

Am I at peace with my future? 

Do I know where I will go when I die? Am I certain or doubtful?  Am I still trying to earn my way to heaven? Does the thought of life’s end give me hope or dread? Do I avoid thinking about that topic altogether? Am I at peace with God?

peace-heart

If I don’t have peace with both my present and my future, what do I need to change? What do I need to do differently with my life?

Once I have it, no person, place, or philosophy can rob me of that peace.

How do you get past your fears? How do you find peace?


Here’s a good article about Peace of Mind in an Unstable World.

chasing the wrong goal?

I am a recovering perfectionist. Not fully cured, but getting better every day. I recently made some noticeable progress when I read about the dangers implicit in perfectionism. The article explained that when I try to be perfect, I have believed the lie that I could actually accomplish that goal. I have somehow convinced myself that, with enough hard work or practice or knowledge, I could truly eliminate all mistakes and errors in my life.

Who am I kidding?

I am never going to be perfect.

No matter how hard I try, I am not ever going to do or think or speak perfectly – not ever. To appear perfect, I need to hide my mistakes or lie about them or defensively deny them or isolate myself from anyone who might see them. ( = everyone) The perfectionism goal is very exhausting and basically impossible.

Perfectionism 3Instead of trying for perfect, maybe it makes more sense for me to become more comfortable with being imperfect. Not so surprised or shaken up or shamed by my (continual) missteps. The full acceptance of failure and fallibility would allow me to apologize more easily and offer grace more quickly to others when I see the same mistake-making reality in them.

I still want to grow and improve in certain life areas, but I have determined that growth ≠ closer to perfection. It just equals greater maturity. Maybe a bit more wisdom. Maybe a little nicer. But not closer to perfect.

It is actually a great relief to take the perfectionism burden off of my shoulders. I feel better already.

What wrong goal(s) do you chase after?

when holidays hurt

broken ornamentMy husband’s family lost both mom and dad in the last year. Christmas will feel empty at times, like something is missing… because they are gone. There will be a longing in our hearts, tears in our eyes, and arms aching to hug someone who is not there.

My friends have not had any contact with their daughter for 10 years. They can not see or communicate with their grandchildren. They don’t know what they did. They also lost a younger son to cancer over five years ago. Family gatherings are not easy for them. Pain is always there.

Special friends are terminally ill. My mom is battling cancer. I am so very grateful she is with us this year – we did not dare to hope that a year ago, but treatments make celebrations difficult: energy is low, appetite is gone, fears of the future lurk in the corners of our mind.

My sister’s son lives far away. He is making life choices that are not the best. She worries about him and struggles with how to respond and relate to him – words chosen carefully, trying to show more love and less disapproval, but it is hard. Even a phone call takes more emotional energy than is available at times.

Lack of money stresses others. How to explain to the pleading eyes of a child that “Santa” will not bring that new toy? How to help a teenager understand that the new trendy phone is not in your budget, and they do not “need” what “all” their friends already have?

Even inner battles over how to celebrate can plague us. How many presents do we buy? How much do we spend on (more!) decorations? How many parties do we attend? How much food do we eat? … when we know others around the world have no clean water, or food, or shelter… How do we reconcile marketing pressures with message focus?

Tears and laughter are both part of our life-long journey. No one is exempt. A very wise man once said…  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

I have a burden on my heart to pray for those who hurt this year – that they will have someone near to share a shoulder to cry on and hold them in a hug that says that they are loved. Maybe in some cases, that someone will be me.

I also want to delight in the sweet and happy moments of this year and live them to the fullest – not let petty, insignificant things steal my joy or lose my focus… savor every decoration, Christmas carol, and special flavor, and store them as deposits in my soul… because one day I will need to draw from them… or share them with others.

Is there pain in your heart this year?

How do you help others when they are hurting?