You know all of us process events like my Dad's passing differently. Some of us go crazy in rage. Others weep in silence. This last January I began a goal to focus my year of 2016 on the fruit of Joy. Honestly, I feel like I should do it for another year. Anyway, with many moments understanding that joy is stable through the ups and downs. Possibly the hardest lesson I've experienced yet has been to focus on joy through Christ amidst a labyrinth of distractions pulling you in the same direction, the direction of numbness.
I heard about this problem recently at a nursing conference specifically focusing on Indiana's big problem with Opioid addiction. And even several months back as I listened to an NPR Embedded Podcast featuring Austin, Indiana in the Opana addiction problem causing alarmingly high numbers of Hepatitis C and HIV. Why is it that we would rather not feel? And why do we not see how dangerous numbness can be? Anger and other bad emotions often get the bad rap. But if you've ever seen Pixar's "Inside Out" you will understand how sadness plays such a necessary role even if it is hard to explain. And only vulnerability will defeat numbness.
A couple weeks ago I started reading a book for the main reason being the title made me laugh. I know it's a silly title but hey it's catchy. Here's an excerpt from Oliver Burkeman's book titled "The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking."
'To be vulnerable,' argue the psychotherapists Hal and Sidra Stone, 'is to be without defensive armour, to be authentic and present...when we are able to feel our vulnerability, we are able to experience the full range of our reactions to the world around us.' The point, says Brene Brown, a professor social work who has studied the psychological benefits of vulnerability, is that 'you can't selectively numb emotion. You can't say here's the bad stuff; here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment: I don't want these.' In the end, the only way you can achieve protection from the negatives is by achieving protection from the positives, too -- whereupon you realise that you didn't really want such protection at all. Or as C.S. Lewis put it, more poetically:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung, and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with your hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
Whether this post makes you sad or not, I'm happy with the fact that it is real and true. Just like any faith in one Redeemer who can penetrate any heart needs to be just as real. Take this Thanksgiving week to be real with your Healer. And if you can, be willing to be broken by the people you love so you can truly love them back.
The people I love