Christianity, Emotional Health, Faith, Gratitude, Hope, Letting Go, Politics, Prayer, Recovery, Simplicity, Spirituality, Trust, Uncategorized, Writing

The only thing we have to fear…

It’s a gorgeous summer morning here on the porch today; a light southerly breeze moves the still cool morning air, reminding me not to think ahead to the afternoon heat. It’s almost the end of June and moments like these become fewer and farther between as the summer progresses.

I ran into an old friend last night that I don’t usually get to see except on Facebook and our annual breakfast on New Year’s Day. We talked for a bit and caught up on personal happenings and the conversation slowly moved to the current state of affairs. We share some of the same political views, most of which concern our incredulity that people could support a man like Donald Trump. Rumor has it that Mr. Trump keeps a copy of Hitler’s, Mein Kampf on his nightstand. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but it makes sense…

I’ve learned that putting myself in other people’s shoes helps me to understand them better. When I gain a degree of understanding, I find I’m a little more empathic and less self-righteous and judgmental (and believe me, I can be that…). My wife has taught me that better than anyone else. She’s blessed to have the gift of empathy. She often helps me slow down and begin to see someone else’s circumstance and point of view. It’s helped me be more like the man I want to be.

I guess that’s why I’m not as harsh to those with opposite views anymore. I’ve tried to put myself in their place, to understand why they feel and act (and vote) the way they do. As I’ve grown older it makes more sense. I have moments when I, too, wish for the ‘way things were’. Nostalgia creeps in and the old times seem much better (and simpler), but life goes on. My Dad used to tell me that the only thing consistent about life is change…

The funny thing about nostalgia is that not much of it is true. Reality is always different from my memory. I tend to romanticize the good times, and rationalize, justify, and minimalize the not so good times – especially when they were the result of my decisions. I’ve learned that I’m not unique in that regard. Waxing nostalgic and ignoring reality is a common practice.

I’ve been hearing this phrase repeat itself over and over in my head lately – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana). In recovery rooms they have a similar saying – “When I forget my last high I’m in danger of the next one”. So, I guess I’m not surprised when life seems to cycle over and over. In our collective nostalgia we vote in a Trump just like we voted in a Coolidge and a Hoover.

The good news is that a Roosevelt and a ‘New Deal’ is always on the horizon waiting for me (and us) to accept it. Like Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Fear is pervasive in our culture today. Our culture, whether on the right or the left loves to create political, economic, and social fear. It’s no wonder people act the way they do. I do some incredibly dumb things out of fear as well…

The truly ‘Good News’ for me is that most of my fears are unfounded. Common sense tells me not to go around picking up rattlesnakes, but if someone didn’t, there wouldn’t be festivals like the Rattlesnake Round-up in Sweetwater. I’ll still leave that one for others, though.

Today I have faith in a God of my understanding who continually reminds me “Don’t be afraid”, “be still and know that I am God”.  He needs to remind me because I still have my moments. The world can be a scary place, especially if I substitute reality with nostalgia and denial. I know that no matter what happens, God has my back and everything’s going to be okay. That frees me to understand others and to act courageously and love freely. After all, my Rabbi likes to remind me that “perfect love casts out all fear”.

I’m pretty sure the world will go on as it has. History will repeat itself in a continuous, ongoing cycle, and people will long for ‘good old days’ that weren’t all that great. The good news is that it doesn’t have to, but that requires being fearless. I’m so thankful for those that are. I’m thankful that “all I have to fear is fear itself” and that I have freedom to be courageous. Let’s be fearless today…

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