A lot of people don’t like visiting hospitals, nursing homes, funeral homes, or other people’s pain. Why is that? I think the answer is fairly obvious, and important when discussing depression.
We don’t want to be faced with what we worry will be our future. We feel vulnerable and at risk. We’d rather avoid it. The same is true of reading posts that are full of darkness and heartbreak. It’s hard to read about another’s pain. I find it hard myself. Heck, I don’t even like to read my own journal entries from that period of my life.
There are times, though, when avoiding pain is perfectly acceptable. But too many people use it as an excuse to avoid doing what they know is the right thing to do. I’m amazed at the number of people I know who use “I just can’t handle it” to avoid visiting people in the hospital, nursing homes, their own homes.
I want to take these people, shake them and yell, “Grow up!”
If we all only did what makes US comfortable, where would this world be?
I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I kept expecting a certain “friend” to come for a visit. I learned after I got home and she had remained AWOL, that it was “too hard for her to come to the hospital because it brought back memories of her father’s death.” Now, before you think I’m being unfair, let me tell you the rest of the story. Her father had died TEN YEARS EARLIER! It was an excuse to keep from doing the right thing.
She spent the rest of her life nursing her grief. I drive by her house (we’ve since moved to another city) every few years when we take an alternate route to our cabin and even her house reflects her sadness. Her house looks “wounded”. Junk piled in the windows in front of the closed drapes. Clutter in the yard. In desperate need of paint. Weeds everywhere. Like it’s dying. It looks the same every time I happen to take that route. Her house has become a refuge where she hides from any pain the world might offer up. ( In case you’re wondering where our friendship ended up, do you even have to ask? One of the things I learned while overcoming my depression is that I don’t have to continue an unhealthy relationship. You don’t either. “Friends” that can’t extend themselves, can’t step out of their comfort zone for you are not really friends. Friends rise above their own discomfort to meet your needs when the occasion calls for it.)
So what is this post about anyway? It’s just this. Don’t be afraid to expose yourself to another person’s pain (even your own).
Pain isn’t the enemy. Fear and avoidance are.
Our fear that if we read something really painful, listen to something really painful, meet someone in pain, we will somehow “catch” it. We don’t “catch” death, cancer, depression, etc. If anything, facing it inoculates us in a way.
I mentioned in an earlier post here that I have a friend who lost her husband after a very short eight week battle with cancer. Eight weeks from diagnosis to death. here I woke up a little “down” the next morning and I knew it was because I projected her situation onto me, to my awareness that, but for the grace of God, I could be standing in her shoes. I was afraid. At the same time, it made me more grateful and more in love with my husband than ever as I realized how precious is every moment, how death is no respecter of persons whether I choose to ignore it or not.
So the next time you have an opportunity to avoid fear, don’t.
Fear never seems as ominous once we stare it down.
Don’t be afraid to enter someone else’s pain, to listen to it, raw and unfiltered. Don’t be afraid to do the hard thing where relationships are concerned.
DON”T BE AFRAID OF FEAR
Let God walk with you through the fear as he promises in Psalm 23:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
Did you notice the word “will”? We have to make a conscious decision to practice not being afraid. The verse does not say evil (hard times, illness, death, struggles, tests, and temptations ) won’t come our way. That isn’t promised anywhere in Scripture. Quite the opposite.
“For you are with me”, the greatest words ever. God is with us in our fear. We don’t have to deny the fear, we only have to walk through it.
Fear isn’t just fear of heights, of spiders, etc.
Fear can manifest itself in a myriad of ways as mentioned earlier. So when you avoid reaching out to someone in pain, when you refuse to be honest about your own, remember, at the root of that thinking is fear.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.
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