We all rise and fall.
Beloved (Us), Rise and Fall
Life is so big. There are so many details, so many ups and downs, so many twists and turns, so many happy things and sad things and things that don't seem to be so easily categorized. Some days are great, others not so much. Some times I feel in control, and others I feel very much like "I'm just a ship lost at sea" (Matthew Good
). It's funny how polar life can be.
This semester at school has got to be the most difficult so far. It's hard to explain why that is. I suppose there are a lot of reasons, and some make it more challenging than others. Being so far away from someone I love very much is at the top of the list -- it is amazing to me how overwhelming it can be, how frustrating it is to be unable to be with the person you want most of all to be with. What's that old saying? "Distance makes the heart grow fonder?" I can attest to its truth. Still, what they don't tell you is, "Distance makes life suck."
This semester is also the most busy. With five regular classes, as well as one Directed Studies and one correspondence course, my semester was already going to be lots of fun. But to make things more interesting, as of this past Friday I started interning at a church
, working with one of my best friends, Geoff, who is the youth
pastor there. I think this past Saturday I was starting to feel a wee bit stressed out, wondering how I'm going to get through it all, when I also need to find a part-time job. I had all sorts of thoughts of dropping out of school, throwing in the towel, just taking off and sticking it to the consequences. That happens to me every once and awhile you know, when life gets overwhelming. I experience all sorts of crazy thoughts. A few times in my life I have actually seriously considered dropping everything and becoming a hermit in some random wilderness, building a fort and eating berries and trying to grow a full beard. It's sort of funny to think about now, though. I wouldn't make too hot of a bush-man -- I love camping, but long term, I'd be the guy who steps between the mother and her cub, I think.
See, in my life, I hit these peaks of stress, these climaxes, these "crises", where I can very literally feel, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, calisthenically, philosophically, hypothetically, etc (I've run out of "ally's" to use), a choice needs to be made - to either give up and spend my life miserable and immature, or to hang on a little bit longer, to just surrender to God and let Him do what He wants. I can't say I've always made the right choice, and I think I've made the wrong one far too often. But every day is a new day, and every choice is a new chance to do what needs to be done.
I like the word "crisis". I think it's a pretty accurate word for what we face in life, which includes the every day stuff. It doesn't have to be a "big" ordeal, like going bankrupt or having one of your kidneys sold on the black-market. The dictionary defines a 'crisis' this way:
an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; a situation that has reached a critical phase; the decisive moment.
It reminds me of the "Fight or Flight Response
" (aka "acute stress response"). It describes the way people (or animals) react to situations -- they either face it or they run from it. I can feel inside myself, pretty much all of the time, the push to take option b -- to run away from situations that are difficult or challenging or stretching or stressful or not-so-pleasant, instead of standing my ground, facing things head on, taking the uncool as it comes and trying my best to learn from whatever it is in front of me. I know that is what God wants -- He uses crappy things to teach us good things. That's how we mature, how we grow up. But we've got to be willing to trust Him. And I find that supremely difficult.
I remember reading a few quotes not too long ago about courage and fear that encouraged
me a great deal. I try to think of them whenever I feel that push to "run away" from things. Perhaps they'll also come in handy for you too, whenever you face those "fight or flight" feelings. Heck, I could be the only one -- but I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say that if Mark Twain dealt with it, most everyone probably does also.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.
I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I have accepted fear as a part of life - specifically the fear of change and the fear of the unknown; and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says, turn back, turn back, you'll die if you venture too far.