The Art of Withstanding Fear

fog Fear can be a bitch — especially when it’s ungrounded, based in thoughts and not realities (which is usually the case, for me anyway). Maybe it’s fear based on something that happened in the past, or fear based on the idea of what could happen in the future, or some crazy collision of both of these.

What it isn’t — this elusive, illusory, free-floating fear — is here. In this quiet kitchen, fridge humming, one kid happily at school, the other getting ready since I let her sleep in, working away, interacting with really wonderful people who are deep in their own complicated, real lives (we all are, we all are), my wife in the other room eating oatmeal.

That whole “all is well” thing is quite useful sometimes, and requires a complete acceptance of the fullness and completeness of this very moment. This very moment. This very moment. So often if one of my kids is experiencing pain — physical or emotional — my urge is overwhelming to rush in and sooth or fix or help. But really, we don’t need to save our kids from themselves, any more than we need to save ourselves from ourselves.

“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

I love this Glennon quote, because it reminds me not to avoid the stuff that hurts or the stuff that scares me. It’s such a steep practice for me sometimes, to speak my own truth, to balance listening and open-mindedness with what my body’s telling me. Sometimes I feel like I suck at it. Sometimes I want to avoid anything smacking of confrontation, to disappear, to make it go away. And mostly, what I need to trust is that it’s coming from love, but not everything requires action and reaction.

Can I be the mountain? Can I withstand some discomfort if the alternative is to swallow my voice in order to make others feel more comfortable? These, to me, are not easy questions to sit with. I want to say the answer is an obvious “hell yes,” but the truth is I’m not (yet) always as steady in my courage as I want to be.

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