A person’s self-worth and value ought not be based upon how they live during the good times when enjoying success in life. Rather, a person’s real worth and value is seen when they face the bad stuff in life and have to deal with the ‘crap’! Most have heard the old adage that when life gets tough the tough get going. So, how is it possible when you’re facing an anxiety attack, significant change in life or the ultimate, death to not quit and throw in the proverbial ‘towel’?
This last week I have been alerted to the fact that a good friend from the 80’s, who is much younger is facing cancer and the requisite treatment, chemo and has a positive outlook. Another friend is in Phoenix because her son has Leukemia and required treatment that might require her to relocate for a season. I have another friend, who has been homeless and struggles with anxiety and depression be blessed with a new job. The challenge is that his world has been turned upside down. He no longer will have state benefits, has to wait for three months and will soon have to find a different apartment.
Our grandma Mary, who is 94 and struggling with a variety of illnesses was back in the hospital again with both pulmonary and cardiac issues. It’s our natural response to panic and believe we have to drop everything and go see her. She’s very private and would rather not have us drop everything and make the trip, yet, we’re truly family and care. So how do you handle and face the tough times in your life? The point or purpose of writing isn’t to give a few simple steps to be better at facing anxiety or panic attacks but see the clear need to include others in your life journey.
I know at times it can seem as if God is punishing me or you for some horrible sin we committed in our youth or if you’re not into God maybe the cosmos has your number. The life lesson I’m learning is that I don’t have to be in the mess or anxiety attack all alone. I texted my one friend, who has a habit of posting all of his ills on social media. He responded quickly and asked the obvious, what’s really got you? I directed him to a book that has stories of real-life people who struggle with the same anxiety. It unfolds the truth that too often we can be alone and have to face difficult times by ourselves, unless we intentionally reach out to a friend.
All of these friends have an active faith in God that gives them a foundational basis for how they live, both in good times and clearly in the bad times. I have to be honest as I faced a challenge this week between people fighting in a way that didn’t have resolve. I caught myself being restless which means I go into hyper busy mode. I attempted a few times to be still, read and mediate, but the reality was that I couldn’t be still. I was fortunate to have something that helped be stay busy for a few days to help me regain my center and focus in life, God and my incredible wife.
The mess, which was sad and unfortunate, didn’t get resolved but I was able to come to peace with other people’s choices, which isn’t mine and the impact of the bad stuff. I was pleased to be able to listen to a new friend at my Starbucks who has struggled with PTSD over the last decade. He had brought some artwork with him that stood out. I engaged in a conversation with him and heard his story unfold. He in turn asked me to share my story. It didn’t take too long before a new friendship appears to emerge and the hope that we can learn from each other about handling the crap in life. As I shared my faith journey, he attempted to not offend me but shared how he was a Buddhist. I was quick to mention that I had a variety of friends in the faith, secular setting and even Eastern Religion settings.
What was incredible was that the mess I had experienced a week ago was still there, but I was able to get perspective on the bigger issues in life. As I listened to someone whose life had been through so much more, I considered myself blessed, fortunate to have an awesome wife, great family, many friends and a living relationship with God.
I don’t have any simple 1,2,3 solutions nor pat answers and know that trying to answer the WHY question doesn’t help either. Yet, the spark of life that I see in my friends who are struggling is that there is hope, tomorrow can be better and that when the mess is overwhelming find a friend or make a friend!