Our Fears Can Defeat Us

Man, do I hope someone out there reads this story before it is too late to be able to read!

A remarkable family man who is intelligent, financially secure, happily married, and full of humor is dying.  Those who love him are heartbroken and know there was so much more he was meant to do. 

Yes, there were warning signs, red flags, and sirens blaring.  However, no matter how brilliant some perceive themselves to be, many will ignore the oncoming train, the inevitable crash, because of fear.  My friend made a choice to let fear win.

He chose to ignore his sudden loss of appetite, diminished energy, and the changes seen in his mirror’s reflection.  The fear of hospitals and distrust of doctors became paramount as his body began to fail.  Family and friends begged him to seek medical help, but his stubbornness intensified while his health declined.

Finally, paramedics rushed him to the hospital after years of worsening illness.  Of course, cancer had ravaged his body, and death was imminent.  Too late to live, too late to repair, too late to put fear aside…. too late.

And God is going to be unhappy.

No Coincidence

The word “fear” is stated in the Bible precisely 365 times, ironically, the same number of days in a year.  Coincidence?  I doubt that because fear robs us of what God wishes for us daily.  The Lord expects us to live up to what he expects of us.

Everything He created was to enable us to live to the nth degree so that we may finish our job here on earth.  Each of us is given talents to help another, whether we are teachers, doctors, scientists, or builders.  Who gave us our skills? 

Many of us will heed the warning signs of illness, obtain help, and move onward even if we struggle, and that is what is expected of us.  When we let fear be in charge of our fate, we will fail to thrive.

How many have mentally fallen because they were afraid to ask for support?  How many would still be alive if they had made efforts to receive medical aid?

We arm ourselves with guns to protect ourselves from dying at the hands of those bad folks, but many of us do not arm ourselves with the knowledge to escape the sting of unnecessary death.  The only way to replace fear is with trust not only in God but in one’s own wisdom.  And the only way to obtain such insight is through God.

Our Outlook

Another man was 68 years old when he climbed a ladder and began to have chest pains.  Immediately he called for assistance, and before he reached the hospital, his heart stopped.  Medical teams rushed to revive him, and he returned home after a long stint in the hospital.  He lived until he was 85 without an ounce of fear in his soul.

On his deathbed, his cardiologist said, “Ray, you are the only patient I have that has always done what I asked him to do to stay healthy.”  My father’s reply, “Well, doc, I had more living to do!”

And God was happy.

Our duty as the Lord’s children is to help not only ourselves and those we love but to do all in our power to live fully until we are called home.  Our divine plan for each of us is to serve.

Finish your purpose

I call my friend, Dan, the new Biblical Job.  He has been bombarded with challenging health issues for years.  Even though he is tired and weary from all the battles, Dan is a retired preacher who trusts God to determine when his earthly assignment is done. 

Dan understands that he is still an active minister who teaches us how to replace anxiety with trust and courage.  He preaches, even in sickness, how to press forward because there is a reason for you and me.

As we gain wisdom through faith, we are encouraged to believe…. “even though we walk through the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for God is with us and his rod and staff will comfort us.”

But until we walk through death’s door, we must put fear aside to finish our life’s journey.

So, whoever out there needs a bit of encouragement to receive help or aid of any kind, do not waste time and get moving because you have a purpose. 

Defeat fear before you become a victim of “too late.” 

Repair the broken Cup with Respect

As we watch a nation mourn its Queen and fill its streets with flowers and tears, we are in awe of the love and reverence shown to Queen Elizabeth.  Whether or not one agrees with the monarchy is not the issue.  But the point is how much the world is captivated by the outpouring of appreciation and respect.

Behind an antique hutch glass door in my foyer lies an exquisite bone china teacup and saucer.  My mother, Elizabeth, cherished her gift from England sent in 1953.  Years later, she was not so enamored with her two children when we broke the treasure due to a royal pillow battle.   

Mom was never a sentimental person, but the Queen’s Coronation Cup was special to her for some inexplicable reason.  Perhaps, it was because the two Elizabeth’s shared a sense of refinement, dignity, and fairness.

If anyone in our family treated others with disrespect, bullying tactics, or unkind gestures, we were placed in a tomb of shame.  Disappointing our Elizabeth was heartbreaking.

A place of honor

Once Mom carefully repaired the fractured cup, it was displayed in a place of honor for the remainder of her life.  

Last Sunday morning, I poured my coffee, turned on the television, and retrieved the paper off the porch.  Of course, the televised news was broadcasting the throngs of the British waiting hours in the queue to pay last respects to their Queen.

 During a commercial break, I was told Herschel Walker beat his wife and that Raphael Warnock ran over his wife’s foot during a dispute.  Finally, the political ads end, and thankfully,  I am transported back to London, where people throw flowers instead of dirt.  A place where today folks line their streets in unity compared to ours that clearly show a divided line. 

Many of our politicians have stripped decorum, traded decency for votes, and replaced reverence with shouts of anger.  Some representatives seem to prefer duty to party before service to the country.   

 For years, bullying in politics has become an acceptable norm, and those who are supposedly our leaders are leading our nation onto the path of shame. 

Why am I not represented?

None of this politically inane behavior represents me or the American majority.  I am not a bully because my mother taught me to respect others.  How many millions believe in kindness, courtesy, and civility over winning?  My Christian faith does not condone bullying and tactics to incite hatred to gain power, nor does it allow us to spread such without dire consequences.

Where has civility, pride, duty, and dignity gone?  I presume to Great Britain where we observe it from afar.  We must demand with our votes and words to return pride to our shores, government, and homes.  

 I am confident I am not the only person who believes we can shape our country into shape with integrity.  Aren’t we tired of the old political pandering and rhetoric, turbulent exclamations, and conspiracies that have befallen us?  With all my heart, I believe those who disrespect others do not deserve to represent most of America or me.   This country is full of outstanding and decent people who believe in truth, love and doing the next right thing for others.

Our children desperately need to understand the value of virtue, commitment, and grace, and adults with wisdom must teach it by how they behave.    We can better focus on the good in us and denounce those who represent the worst in all of us.

Great leaders teach

 “It has always been easy to hate and destroy.  To build and to cherish is more difficult.”  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.  I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”  President Abraham Lincoln

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”  Reverend Martin Luther King

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching, show integrity and dignity.  Saint Paul to Titus

These are the type of champions that continue to lead even in death.  Their words are forever immortalized and true. 

I stop to gaze at the English treasure in my foyer.  The face of a Queen bedecked in jewels adorns the cup.  A royal who lived up to her duty for seventy years and did so with dignity, honor, and respect.  She is gone now, along with St. Paul, Abraham, Martin, and my mother.  But they gave us all hope that there will be others who will rise to meet the standard by which they lived.

Let us search for the righteous but not from afar.

Searching for War to Find Peace?

My father said years ago, “When America seems lost or divided, angry or hopeless, a war or tragedy usually is the cure.” 

“Dad, that is so sad.  Why does it have to be that way?  It seems totally ridiculous to me!” I frustratingly replied.

His one-word response as he walked away was, “Humans.”

However, history does seem to back Dad’s theory.  After September 11, 2001, an entire country wept.  Political discord was forgotten, differing opinions lost importance, and we joined hands in prayer.  We grieved together, determined to unify, defend, and protect the integrity of America. 

Today, will it require such a disaster to return us to our senses?  Why does it take horror to shake up our humility, dignity, and appreciation of freedom?

We have allowed disease, politics, conspiracies, distrust, and rage to weave their destructive ways into our everyday lives.  Violence roars, people shout, and solutions seem unattainable because we keep committing the same human errors.  We often cast aside our spiritual nature to defend our personal ideologies, and thus, we weaken our entire country. 

Love of country?

 A common theme from all political sides is, “I love my country, so I will fight for what I know is right!”.  If we sincerely love our country, shouldn’t we be open-minded and listen to others’ ideas to solve our common problems?  

January 6, 2001, should have shocked all of us into change.  I am happy that my dad wasn’t here to see Americans attacking Americans, breaking into our Capitol, and obliterating integrity.  

The first few hours after the insurrection, Congress stood together in resolve and determination to defend democracy.  We all heard their words, but bias, partisan politics, and policy disagreements have destroyed such will and again become selfishly human.  So, I presume we will continue to search for war instead of peace to find peace. 

How could we let such an event slip under the rug, deny its truth, unsee what we saw, and continue to deepen a divide?   

We want violence to end in our streets, yet we want to ignore political violence and disrespect.   Death, chaos, and destruction at any time are the same; none of them is okay.  What is the difference between a young man shooting a friend over an argument gone sour and a mob on a mission to possibly kill over a dispute?  Nothing.

Wrongs are not right

We can’t make wrongs right, no matter how many blinders we wear.   Will it take a bomb to shake us to the core this time?  Will we need to endure another attack on democracy by a foreign government to save us from going to war with each other?

Let’s instead raise the bar on our humanity by bringing integrity back into our nature.  Hate-fueled speeches, ranting posts on social media, and political parties pouring gasoline on bonfires should end for us not to self-destruct.  I know that is a lot to ask, but it all begins with becoming a better human.

Honor, virtue, and valuing America should become our new mantra.  We start working our way down every street to pour our commonality into the fissures of our land.  Our ancestors fought for us to be able to vote differently and have opposing ideas, but the goal is to use such as an advantage to build and not a reason to destroy.    

From the halls of Congress to the news outlets, to the right wings, left wings, and those in the middle should raise the bar of intelligence, courage, and respect.  Stop blaming and start becoming something other than just human.  Because being just human just isn’t good enough.  Isn’t that a more acceptable option than disaster?  It takes work, humility, and compromise, but isn’t that better than defeat?

Perfecting a union

A more perfect union begins with each of us perfecting who we are and what we can do.  It isn’t rocket science, but it still takes study, concentration, and a pure heart.  It requires voting for leaders who will bring honor to our nation and build American pride.

Americans died on September 11, 2001.  It began as a typical work day for innocent people, and by the end of the day,  an enemy had changed America.  On December 7, 1941, a navy captain began his day by reviewing his orders while sipping a coffee.  By the end of the day, Americans had changed into warriors, defenders, and champions of liberty.

Humans.  We are flawed and do dumb things, but if we can unify without tragedy, we have raised the bar, pleased God, and showed the world our greatness.  That is the medicine for the cure, the hope for tomorrow instead of war and repeating human history.

The Years of Septembers

Oh my, it’s September again!  I love this month with its beginnings of all things good.  September flushes out the heat of summer and ushers in the cool breezes of fall.  Toward the month’s end, faded green hills turn to shades of brilliant ambers, reds, and golds.  Of course, football frenzy is always welcomed, bringing out the happy crazy in all of us.  Likewise, Hobby Lobby is stocking its shelves with Christmas merchandise, which always prompts the cheery in Santa and me.

 Yes, I greet September happily, except by October 1st, I have turned another page on age.  However, since the alternative is not good, I reckon I will need to live on with the number.  

Seasons change, and so do we.  As the years’ pass, we become wiser or grouchier, set in our ways, or open to new ideas.  We can either believe we are owed the world or that we owe the world.  Older folks can become complainers and cranks or thankful and filled with joy.  And the longer we live, the worse or better we become, so what will it be?

Celebrating quarter-centuries

When I turned 25, I worked with a friend born three days after me.  We celebrated our quarter of a century by exchanging little gifts, laughing with our coworkers, and wondering what the future would hold.  “Maybe we will still be in touch when we reach the half-century mark!” We both exclaimed.

Our lives traveled in separate directions, and there were years when we lost touch.  Yet, sure enough, when 50 rolled around, “Happy Half-Century!” the voice shouted over the phone.  We didn’t speak much about our different worlds or what had transpired, but we, instead, were amazed at how quickly 25 years became 50.  “Well, maybe, we will make it to the three-quarter century birthday!  I’ll call you if I am here!” He said with a chuckle.

And by October 1st, we will have made it.  More than likely, there will not be another celebratory shout-out in 25 years.  How quickly did it all pass?  Faster than a minute phone call.

A pearl encounter

Years ago, I typically joined my mother for Sunday brunch at her independent living facility.  We were in line at the omelet station when I overheard a disturbing conversation.  The gentleman just ahead of us was loudly berating a young server and complaining bitterly about the state of his less-than-hot sausage.  When I heard him, I felt the fury rise, and mother immediately noticed it. 

Or course, I am an easy read.  My face turns red, my eyes widen, and even the birds fly because they know I am about to spew.  Mom grabbed my arm, “Lynn, I know you want to say something, but it won’t do a bit of good.” 

“Why, Mom, is he allowed to get away with being cruel?” I asked.

“He is a grumpy old man set in his ways, and his ways have been foul for a while.  One can either become as he is or not.  But once a complaining, whining, curmudgeon is born of age, only the Good Lord can change them.”  And with her finger pointed to my face, she added, “Never become one.”

It is funny that some pearls of wisdom stay with you, and Mom’s idea about aging was a definite pearl.  Becoming a disrespectful grump is an affront to being given the gift of a long life.   

Now that I am the age of the old man at the omelet station, I still want to kick him in the shins or elsewhere.  One thing that makes those birds scatter in my world is watching folks’ hearts turn to stone with bitterness.

No need to add discontent

We have much discontent in this world, and it will take all ages and at every stage to calm the anger.  Nor do we need a bunch of aging grouches to stoke the flames of rage.  We, the supposedly wiser ones, could do much more to create a more peaceful world.  We build respect and honor if we become more gracious, compassionate, and kinder as we add years.    

Keeping an open mind, a humbled heart, and a thankful soul will keep us younger than any youth elixir, facial cream, or crepe eraser on the market.  Age has nothing to do with what can be seen but rather a reflection of the unseen soul.

By the end of September, in 25 years, I hope to be sitting on a cloud with Mom, and perhaps a phone will ring.  I hear a familiar voice say, “They don’t have birthdays up here, but we made it to Happy, didn’t we?!” 

And in the end, isn’t that where the years are supposed to take us?