Since he had turned his back upon the fight his fears had been wondrously magnified. Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about to smite him between the eyes. When he thought of it later, he conceived the impression that it is better to view the appalling than to be merely within hearing. The noises of the battle were like stones; he believed himself liable to be crushed.The Red Badge of Courage, chapter 6
To experience victory, hard must be faced.
To defeat fears, eyes must gaze forward.
To minimize dread, fight must be embraced.
To remain steadfast, battle must be accepted.
To resist surrender, better must be pursued.
To foster courage, will must be resolved.
Photo by Kat J on Unsplash
It’s been two weeks since Irma. Much continues to happen around the world with natural disasters. In our town, we haven’t had to deal with the devastation of other places. Regardless of how impactful the storm, one thing is true for anyone living in a post-storm world: things aren’t normal. Normal has been replaced, if not permanently, at least temporarily.
This was clear the first day I went for a run. It was Tuesday morning, not much longer than 24 hours post-storm.
As odd as it sounds, I literally had to tell myself that it was okay to go for a run. I’m sure to many it would have been the furtherest thing from their mind. To me, it was what I should do. It is my routine, and I should do it even if I didn’t want to or questioned if I should.
I did a 5.7-mile route through West Bradenton. A little darker than usual, even for early morning hours. Darkened street lights, humming generators, and impassable sidewalks were obstacles to my normal carefree run. Watching traffic on Cortez Road between 51st and 75th was interesting; actually on this entire route it was. Non-working traffic lights (5 out of 9) were catching many drivers offguard. They were having to pay more attention because routine was broken.
When routine is broken, when there are obstacles in life to doing what we are accustomed to doing, it can be quite jolting, to some life-altering. All of these things I noticed on my run were simple examples of obstacles that post-storm living presents. And if you allow them to, these obstacles can appear overwhelming and unnavigable. They can appear to be.
If the appearance grips us with fear, we would do well to step back and let our brains catch up to our emotions. Our brains can help us see…
- …taking a shower by flashlight is doable.
- …if you don’t know how to do something, most likely you know someone who does.
- …a new routine will take more time…so leave earlier for work, allow more grace to other drivers, and expect the unexpected.
- …the obstacle may not be addressable in the desired timeframe. That’s okay. Give time to yourself and to others to get it addressed in a safe and wise manner.
- …obstacles don’t automatically mean you can’t do your thing. They may just cause you to have to figure out a different way.
- …like many pre-storm days, the best motivation is self-motivation. Sometimes you have to be your own generator.
In the last 12 hours, I’ve had three conversations around the subject of control. One was with myself; it happens when you wake up an hour before the alarm.
The interesting core of these conversations had to do with being frustrated or anxious. And every one of them found the same end that the cause of the frustration and anxiety was trying to control something that was out of their control.
We’ve all been there. “Why can’t they do it this way?” “What if they get mad?” “How come she gets better reviews they I get?” Before we drive ourselves to losing control, maybe we can check ourselves and, in a sense, own our control issues rather than trying to control things that we really can’t.
Check #1-Check your Expectations. Ask these questions:
- Whose expectations are these?
- Who agreed to these expectations?
- What should my expectations be and what am I basing them on?
- What happens if my expectations don’t get met? Who is going to care besides me?
- What happens if my expectations do get met? Who is going to care besides me?
Check #2-Check your Opportunities. Ask these questions:
- How might this relationship grow?
- What might I learn today?
- What other perspectives have I not considered?
- How could I cultivate gratitude?
- How can I show respect?
Check #3-Check your Fears. Ask these questions:
- What if love drove me more than fear?
- What can I find to affirm rather than judge?
- How can I connect with them rather than hide from them?
- What fears need to hear me say, “Yes”?
- What fears need to hear me say, “No”?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2Timothy 1:7