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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grief. Fear. And Hope.


I fell asleep at night, my pillow wet with tears. I've spent the last 30 minutes or more imagining my husband's funeral while he lay next to me sleeping peacefully.

Who would come? What would they say? Where would we hold services? Perhaps I believed these mental rehearsals would prepare me *should* the day ever come. 

My husband by the way? He's perfectly fine. It's me. I've let my imagination become overrun by fear - and this is how I spent so many sleepless nights in the early years of our marriage. 

I was afraid what we had was too good to be true, or that my mother, who became a widower like her mother before her, passed down a family curse. "Poor Aaron", I thought, "Marrying me was a death sentence."

I don't struggle with this type of fear so much anymore. I had a few books and friends help me along the way, but mostly I learned  - and practiced (and practiced and practiced) training my brain. Now when I feel the tragic imaginations coming on I purposefully change my line of thinking. 

I didn't know then, but I know now, that I can be in charge of what I think. 
Turns out my brain is not a runaway train because I'm the conductor.

And yet, fear exists.
Fear is real.
And fear can even be a protector at times - like when you get that creepy feeling and you alter your plans and realize in hindsight that that feeling protected you from something unsavory. 

C. S. Lewis wrote, "No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear."
 When I first came across that quote in Brene Brown's Rising Strong book it struck me hard, but yet I couldn't articulate why exactly.


After weeks of meditating on those words I've decided that often, when we feel sadness strongly, it's not a long jump to misunderstand it as fear. 

And fear, at it's core, is most awful.

When we grieve:
a loss, a cancer diagnosis, bad news, unemployment or a broken relationship we easily become afraid.

Afraid of:
death, afraid our child will be sick, afraid to watch the news, afraid of change, afraid we'll never be loved again. 

Grief feels like fear. Except it's not.

And what about hope?

As Seth Godin said in his January 17, 2016 blog entry,

"Fear shows up unbidden, it almost never goes away if you will it to, and it's rarely a useful tool for your best work.
Hope, on the other hand, can be conjured. It arrives when we ask it to, it's something we can give away to others again and again, and we can use it as fuel to build something bigger than ourselves."

Bad things happen. Bad things might happen to you. Or your loved one. Or your child. But it might not. So instead of entertaining fear, allowing it authority over us
to wreck us
keep us up at night
and cause us great misery 
I believe hope - which can be called upon - is the answer we need.

Not *instead* of the fear. Nay, in the midst of it. 
Have hope. Give hope. Conjure hope.
Love hope. And if you're not convinced in it's power - at least experiment with Hope.
Hope never fails. The Bible; Romans 5:5

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