Reflections from the Home Team, October 18, 2016
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
-- H. P. Lovecraft
Greetings from Cedar Falls,
I wanted to take a moment to update you since my last Reflection in August. I have had several routine medical procedures recently performed and am waiting on results from a biopsy done during one of them. Always a “mindset” challenge, as well as the fact I have a couple of very close friends who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, which moved me to write this reflection. As always, I again want to offer a special thanks to my doctors and medical support team for the time and efforts they have given to assist me in dealing with the ups and downs one deals with as a cancer survivor.
That brings me to this reflection.
I’ve always assumed that we feared the unknown. It’s just one of those clichés that you hear so often that you just figure is true. And then last month, as I was doing some reading, my mind opened to a different possibility. After reading some thoughts from Steve Gilbert (Win Your Day), I concluded it’s not the unknown that scares us; it’s what we project into the unknown that causes anxiety. Because if something were truly unknown, we wouldn’t know about it so there wouldn’t be any fear of it…
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. I’m not so worried anymore about the “unknown” when it comes to my future; I’m worried about what my mind projects into the blank space that is the unknown.
It may seem like semantics, but at least for me it had a big impact. It helped me to realize that it’s my thoughts about things that scare/worry/upset me rather than the things themselves.
Take a look at a time in your life when you thought you were worried about the unknown – (for me that’s easy, it’s when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009) - and see if what you were really worried about is what you projected might happen rather than simply not knowing what would. Once diagnosed, my mind began racing about many things with anxieties sprouting up like mushrooms about what might happen, not what would happen. I shared many of those thoughts in my early reflections, and they often processed my thoughts on dealing with the pain, fear and worry that accompanies a serious medical diagnosis such as cancer.
I’ve discovered that the best defense against worry, fear or things that upset us is to stay in communication with God. By turning our thoughts to God when faced with these concerns, we can think more positively. By taking the time to think things through, listening and discussing them with God, instead of us being the "god of our own thoughts and fantasies" we can experience much more satisfaction.
Quite often, the more "hassled" our lives become, the more we need time alone communing with God. He doesn't want us tied into anxious knots, but rather to find peace in leaning on Him, remembering that He is our strength in those difficult times. This is not always easy because the world is "rigged" to pull our attention away from Him. The noise and stimulations around us often make it hard to find Him in the midst of our difficult moments.
I’ve also found in those difficult moments that yet another distraction can often be our own egos which so often want to project our pain and suffering onto another person or group. The term that applies here is “scapegoating”. I can certainly relate to this having been both a scapegoat and a "scapegoatee" in my life's journey. As I watch this year’s baseball divisional playoffs, the Cubs come to mind. (Sorry Cub fans see this reflection’s header!).
Many diehard Chicago Cubs’ fans have an unusual explanation for why their team hasn’t been to a World Series in seven decades: a billy goat. The superstition dates back to October 6, 1945, when a local bar owner supposedly placed a hex on the club for booting his foul-smelling pet goat out of Wrigley Field. The Cubs have struggled ever since, and have even earned the nickname the “lovable losers” for their perennial failure to win the World Series.
Think of the pain and suffering these die-hard fans have experienced over the years, which has at times been “scapegoated” to this curse. Recent Cubs management has showed us how to “hold the pain” and let it transform the team, rather than pass it on to the others around them by making good player personnel decisions and providing sound leadership. The results are speaking for themselves!
Spiritually and emotionally speaking, we can take a lesson from this… Don’t be distracted from your situation by projecting pain and suffering onto another person or group. This can be difficult, believe me as we face the future with a cancer or difficult medical diagnosis. There are no “bad goats to expel." I pray that I may be wise enough to identify my own problems, take them to God in prayer and not be looking for the "goats" in others as I lean on Him for guidance while enjoying and relaxing in His presence during my difficult times.
To conclude, when we have difficult moments, which can cause pain and suffering in our lives, take the time to bring them to God and ask for His guidance. Don’t beat yourself up wondering “why me” or by projecting the pain and suffering onto others. Each day is a new day, it’s a blank canvas, take them one at a time. Build off the lessons of yesterday, (just like the Cubs ;O) without taking the frustration and upset into today.
Blessing to each of you as we approach the Holiday season. Enjoy your time with family and friends, as it is so precious a gift!
Link to: Reflections from the Home Team BLOG
Link to Vimeo: Reflections from the "Home Team"... Go the Distance
Link to: Tommy Emmanuel and "Angelina"