When Life Pricks You
Note: This is a particularly difficult topic for me to write about. For those who know me well, you know I've been dealing with a physical injury and a surgical complication that's been extremely difficult to face not just every day but every moment of every day. And this has been going on for almost five months. Many times, I've wanted to just run away from it all, but I haven't because I can't. In each moment, I lay myself in the Hands of Almighty God, surrender to His care, and chose to face with His help whatever the day might bring.
"If you're cold, turn down the air; if you're hot, build a fire; if something pricks you, lean into it."—YT
Life is part pain and part pleasure. The man (or woman) who tries to live only the "good" parts will miss out on life almost completely. Conversely, the man who embraces the pain and uncomfortableness of life; who learns how to stay with feeling uncomfortable; and, not only that, but who trains to become more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, will discover the great freedoms (and pleasures) that come with not having to change (read "manipulate") his current circumstances (or the current actions or expressed feelings of the people around him) in order to make himself feel better.
Note: Even though I believe very much in these things, I'm really just a kindergartner in living them out. The key for me is showing up. And doing so every day. And so that's what I do: I keep showing up. Every day. And I keep choosing to stay with what feels gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable. Most of the time, nearly everything within me just wants to do whatever I can to change things from what they are to what I want them to be. The problem? I don't have the power to do so. And since I can't escape from the way things are right now, I'm forced to stay with what's making me want to run and hide. Good thing? Sure. Difficult? No doubt. (Actually, I need to come up with a better word than just difficult. To me, I think "difficult" hardly scratches the surface of how challenging it's been.)
When a person learns to stay with uncomfortableness, little will throw or overwhelm him in life. A man who's no longer afraid of what he's feeling or of what's happening to him (or of what might happen to him in the future) can stay mindfully and courageously present in what he's doing and with whatever comes his way. In such situations, he doesn't experience the knee-jerk compulsion of trying to change his circumstances (or the people around him) so as to feel better. Such a person creates within himself the ability to be with those experiencing great pain and anger and yet not have such things cause him to shut down or run from or lash out aggressively at the one who's feeling such things. He can be with that one and truly see and hear that one. Often, when people are hurting or angry, what they most want and need is someone to just sit and be with them. Not to change (or fix) them, but to see and hear them.
As my little personal slogan above reads, if you find yourself feeling a little cold this winter, turn on the air conditioner. Similarly, if you find yourself almost overwhelmed by the oppressive heat this coming summer, build a fire to warm yourself even more. Learn, in the little things, to embrace uncomfortableness, and you'll train yourself to stay put when life smacks you in the face with a 2x4. You'll train also to no longer look for ways to escape pain and intense difficulty. When life pricks you, rather than reflexively pulling back, you'll lean into it and let yourself feel the full extent of what it wants to teach you.
This, my friends, is true training in warriorship. Pursue such things. The world needs more people like that. More specifically, it needs more people like you, who are able to be like that.
Note: Some day, I'll be such a one. God's training me; and, in little ways here and there, He's continuing to strengthen my hope that He'll one day bring to completion what He's started within me. "Yes, Dave, someday you'll be such a one," I hear Him say. In response, I cheer myself up with the following mantric slogan: "Surrender to God, Dave, stay the course, and trust His tempering and tendering processes."
Peace to you all...
IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):
Mondays: Meditative Prayer
Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline
Fridays: Martial Arts Practice