Never Numbing Out; Overcome and Carry On

This is the first of four follow-up articles on the many facets of fear including a four-part Interview/Special Report with Rabbi Moshe Scheiner of Palm Beach Synagogue.

After I wrote about the paralysis of fear, its’ numbing effects, and resultant feelings of powerlessness, it was pointed out to me that there was another, more intentional, response to fear beyond freeze, fight, and flight.  That response is loving persistence or courageous non-violence. It is evidenced in the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus called for his followers when confronted by fear and violence to turn the other cheek.  This was not an instruction of pacifism.  Turning the other cheek was about demanding equality from a person of authority. This is the most measured and effective action that can be taken when fear, anger, and aggression show up.

Courageous non-violent cheek turners were named by Columbia University’s School of Journalism as 2019 Pulitzer Prize winners on Monday, April 15th. One award went to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for exposing failings by officials before and after the deadly shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Another went to Staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for immersive, compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.  These journalists stood strong for their communities and for us all in the face of fear and anger.  They exposed the truth and rejected the lure of moving on to other stories.  They refused to numb out.  The parent of a Parkland victim wrote South Florida Sun-Sentinel after Pulitzers were announced encouraging the paper to continue its’ work saying there was still much to be done.  He can rest assured that they will carry on.

It takes a lot of guts to persist, to remain steadfast, and to overcome.  A courageous cheek turner must have the resolve of Gandhi, who when confronted by his jailers with threats intended to invoke fear replied; “They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then they will have my dead body, but not my obedience.” But this is exactly the kind of response which will defeat fear in its’ tracks.  We shall overcome. It is the essence of love.  And love refuses to capitulate.  It will not retaliate-in-kind.  It will not run away.  it will not numb out. Love is an action-choice made by the brave soul who finally rejects all notions of self in deference to the greater good.

A Walk in the Desert

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“The absence of God’s love makes us like a dry desert land without water, and thus we treat our neighbors harshly, fearing we have no love to spare.” ~ Guy Consolmagno

The droughts, times with little rain and scorching hot days, leave us feeling empty and anxious.  Lake levels drop, plants wither and die, animals venture out in search of anything to quench their thirst.  An uneasy quiet settles over the land.  We endured a seven year drought in the Upstate of South Carolina not long ago.  It was pretty uncomfortable.  People became testy and on edge as everything outside seemed to deteriorate.  At one point, the flooded river valley which has become Lake Hartwell dropped so low that old roads appeared which had been under water for decades.  Recreation and tourism slowed and almost halted.  Two years ago the welcomed rain began to come.  Over time, everything was restored and the beauty of the area returned. We have even started to forget how desolate it was.

Emotional and spiritual droughts have strikingly similar effects on our insides. Emptiness and anxiety leave us feeling dry and forsaken.  God seems to have abandoned us.  When this happens, we withdraw and isolate.  The love we have seems to dry up and we hoard whatever is left for fear of losing even the most essential elements of affection.  Unlike the droughts of nature however, desert times of the soul and spirit are more misconception than fact.  Hard times are no delusion, but the sense of abandonment and loss of God’s love is only an illusion.  It is as abundant as when everything in life was going well.  We are promised this without exception.  We are never alone.  We are never ignored.  We are never without resource.  There is an endless underground spring of hope that will fill our hearts in time.  The healing waters will return.  My friend, Bill Scott used to remind me that ‘Things come to pass…not to stay’.  We can be assured of that.  There will even come a time when the drought is a distant memory.  Life is always wonderful…even when it seems otherwise.

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Overcoming Adversity

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“It is not adversity that kills, but the impatience with which we bear the adversity.”

Father James Keller was visiting the Tower of London when he found the inscription above.  It was written almost four hundred years ago by a condemned prisoner who carved the words on the wall of his cell to keep up his spirits during a long imprisonment.  Keller was moved by the hope and courage that was embodied in the message.  Adversity will come for each of us during our travel through life.  How we deal with these difficulties makes all of the difference.

Photo by David L Gross

None of us need to be paralyzed by the adversity that comes our way.  We have the opportunity to rise above it.  We can allow ourselves to be strengthened by our personal faith followed by dogged determination and hard work.

We have choices when presented with adversity.  Despite the fact that we might feel trapped or cornered with only one way to go, we can choose our attitude and practice patience.  We can choose to be models of inspiration through the courage and poise with which we meet the hardship.

We can embrace the situation with a spirit of acceptance.  There is nothing more powerful than the example of grace under pressure.  It is what Ernest Hemingway called ‘guts’.

We can prevail over almost anything as long as we are willing to keep making the best choices.  They won’t always be right but we just keep trying and ultimately the good things will overcome the bad.

“Life’s about adversity.  The whole key to it, when adversity comes, you either get bitter or you get better.”  ~ Dabo Swinney

 

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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