W—I just need some medicine to help him at home. I can’t keep doing this by myself.
S—That’s why D is at the house now waiting for us and I’m here.
W—(frustrated) You don’t even help…you aren’t around! We’ve been through this before. He can’t go to a facility and continue chemo to treat the tumor.
S—That’s why we’re taking him home.
W—(crying) I can’t do this by myself. I need a hospital bed, a bedside potty, and 24/7 home health…..(pleading) I just need something to help control him.
M—(compassionately) Honey, we both know that medicine stops working and likely can’t fix that. It’s the result of his condition…He may still need to go to a facility.
W—(crying) He can’t go to a facility. I don’t want him to get COVID. I won’t be able to see him…or he will die.
So they cried out to the Lord in their distress, and God saved them from their desperate circumstances. God gave the order and healed them; he rescued them from their pit.—Psalm 107:19-20, CEB
Without intervention, we can become trapped in the pit of despair running endlessly on the wheel of fear. However, the path out requires counterintuitive action…what if instead of trying harder, we softened our approach. “The work of paying compassionate attention is, in a sense, learning to steward for ourselves what God already believes about us—that we are valuable and loved.” This advice from Aundi Kolber, LPC, is part of larger work titled Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode—and into a Life of Connection and Joy.
During this Lenten season exercise your own compassionate attention when you feel stuck in the pit of fear. Consider rhythmic breathing exercises to settle your anxiety. Compassionate coloring allows the brain to take a break and self-expression flow. Safer space meditation or walks in nature provide a mental/physical reset for the brain. Learning to recognize the signatures of trauma and latent fear is not an easy process but well worth the work to facilitate our own emotional regulation.—Eric Coleman
Prayer: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”—Brene Brown
Photo by Michael Williamson of art by Eli Blasko and the Northside Voyagers