Several years ago, on a ferry from Dover to Calais, heading for Antwerp, Belgium, I had no idea that I was in the process of having a heart attack! That night, this wonderful trip we had planned, visiting the Martin Luther sites in Germany, on to England for the Phantom of the Opera at the Palace Theater and, then, on to the Lake District, came to a crashing halt.
I lay in ICU while my Joanne said goodbye to our friends…and then she was on her own, alone in a foreign country, limited to visiting me 15 minutes, twice a day. At that moment I had no idea how all this was going to turn out. There is a happy ending…I survived! Eight days later I was released to go home. But the point is…we just don’t know when something, out of our control, will thrust its ugly head into our lives and plans and force us to deal with it!
We don’t like those things that take us out of our comfort zone. The truth is, in all conflict, confrontation, stress, etc. there is change! We are saddened by tragedies that seem to come through the news on a daily basis; a lethal mud slide, the search for a lost plane in the Indian Ocean, the capsizing of a cruise ship with multiple loss of life, the terrible scenes of grieving families, devastating brush fires in California, flooding in Texas, etc. Even a great distance from the tragedy, there are subtle changes, maybe we even imagine ourselves or loved ones in the midst of that terrible event.
Closer to home, we are thrown off stride by something as common as physical pain, the natural process of growing older, perhaps a confrontation at a store, or an argument with someone close, and definitely by a heart attack!. Perhaps we have experienced the loss of a family member or a dear friend has a stroke. We feel helpless. We sometimes get upset when we can’t do those things that we used to do so easily. All of these combine to cause us stress, worry, anger, even fear, in our lives. We are in turmoil and our sense of peace or calmness is threatened.
How do we respond? Sometimes we can fight off tension and stress by avoiding it, by walking away, by denying it, by “sandbagging”! We may try to deal with it through drugs, or booze, or counseling, or maybe, just maybe, we turn to our faith, that Higher Power that gives us comfort.
Even though our world has changed drastically since the time of Jesus, the basic needs of humanity, of you and I, have not really changed. Jesus repeatedly challenged his disciples not to worry or be afraid, and yet they did, which is why he kept telling them “to be a peace”. Human faility. Being at peace seems to be such a temporary thing, since we live human lives with other humans, and each of us have our own idiosyncrasies, some we accept and tolerate, some not so much.
We tell our children that “everything is going to be all right” and yet there are times we don’t feel so confident. It seems this tendency for humanity to get so wrapped-up in stressful mind games has less to do with the culture and more to do with an innate need within every person for security. We want to know that “everything is going to be all right”. No! Not just “know”, we want a guarantee, we want assurance…without it peace can be illusive.
Sometimes we get wisdom or good advice from the strangest places. How about the Disney production of Frozen? The hit song “Let It Go”, winner of this year’s academy award, is a good example.
So, be honest, from your experience, is the way you deal with stress or conflict or the unexpected crisis, or health concerns effective? Does it work? Does it help you get back to your comfort zone? If not, what are you going to change? What is your plan? Maybe “Let it go” isn’t your answer. Somethings you can put behind you, but others are right there, in your face. Your health won’t change overnight. The grieving won’t fade immediately. Your stress with your loved one might take some “negotiations”. What you can’t “let go” is what ties you in knots, it is the stress that compounds. You worry about how worried you are! Your stress causes stress. Your attitude causes conflict. Breaking the cycle is the key.
What works for me may not work for you. My plan, when I choose to, involves being active, working out, putting my mind to a task that I enjoy, these are all things that help me. But my biggest “hole card”, my first as well as my backup plan, is my “Higher Power.” I turned that ugly thing over to God. That’s my plan and, you know what, it works pretty well!
For What It’s Worth.