The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most. — Thomas Merton
She makes a decision. Peace comes over her. Two hours later, she’s wracked with fear and anxiety.
This is my grandmother these days.
For the past few months, it has become clear to those around her – and to her at moments – that she and my grandfather can no longer live on their own in the house she built with her first husband almost 60 years ago. My grandfather has permanent health requirements that she has to tend, and his mind, well, his mind is addled in the way that minds seem to go with many years – 92 to of them in his case. She has lost her sense of balance and cannot walk without holding on to things. Walking across a parking lot is nearly impossible.
Yet, despite knowing what needs to be done, despite the fact that I can see she knows when I look in her eyes and ask how she is, she has not been able to make the decision.
Her fear has stopped her. Better to suffer where she is than risk the greater suffering in a new place.
It would be so much easier to run.
When things don’t make sense,
when things aren’t working out the way they are supposed to,
when things are less than ideal. — Shar Halvorsen
As much as I write about fear, as much as I know the only way out is through, as much as I can see fear in others and want to hold them up while they walk right into its massive, toothy face, I still get afraid, and I still balk.
Right now, in my life, something is going so well.* As I told my friend the other day, “If this works out, this is God flexing God’s muscles big time.” This could be the answer to prayers I haven’t even known I said.
I am terrified. I am exhilarated. I am hopeful.
Today, my father and I will visit an assisted living facility here, where we live. A place where my grandparents can come, be safe, and be near. The other day, Grandma told Dad, “I’m singing ‘Virginia Here I Come.'”
All my grandmother’s fear . . . all of it has come to this. This answer that is so much better than what we could have imagined.
Because despite our fear, despite the way we try to turn and run, despite the way we cower and hunker down, despite the way we question and doubt, God has some mighty big muscles . . . and God flexes them all the time.
What do you fear? What do you do in the face of fear?
*It’s not the time, yet, to tell you the details of this situation, but believe me, when it’s time, you’ll hear. You won’t even have to open the blog pages to get word. It’s that good.