Last post, I wrote that I believe I am an expert on defense and gave some advice on the subject due to my feeling that there is a sharp rise in falsehoods with President Trump’s election. This post is additional defense advice. Bluntly, I am going to teach you how to be brave.
Many of you know that at the end of my time at the seminary I was fortunate to purchase the full set of Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World. I have slowly but steadily been reading through the set since last summer. I am officially on book five, having skipped the two “Synopticon” volumes.
In short, I am still in the (Trojan War-centered) plays of Greek Antiquity, though through Homer and Aeschylus. One line from Sophocles’ Trachiniae furnished unto me the motivation for this post.
(These plays are always filled with great tragedy and accordingly the line is thus:)
“Which woe shall I bewail first, which misery is the greater? Alas, ’tis hard for me to tell. One sorrow may be seen in the house; for one we wait with foreboding: and suspense hath a kinship with pain.”
“…and suspense hath a kinship with pain.” That’s the part that leapt off the page.
When H-‘s mom and I were in lamaze class, the nurse leading the class informed the mothers (and fathers) of the relationship between pain, fear, and time. Apparently, we learned, part of labor pains–and fear of labor pains–in first-time mothers is simply created by some admixture of fear of the unknown, and the fact that the moments and duration of the pain are unpredictable and do not bend to the patterns of the clock. But if the new mother knows this, then supposedly her fears will be abated and the concordant pain lessened. At least that’s the theory.
H- is about to turn nine.
Although I have a bachelors degree and three years of graduate study under my belt, it fascinates me that only now do I read something which renders modernity’s lamaze class ineffectual.
“…and suspense hath a kinship with pain.”
But this got me thinking. I’m brave. I mean, I flew planes and helicopters. I even flew helicopters into combat. How does that work? Why didn’t I fear? Why didn’t the unknown cause me to tremble? Why didn’t the suspense, the waiting, cause me to fear like the new mother?
Then, as a Christian, I also got to thinking about the bible writers’ thoughts on fear, which range from “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” to “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”
Why was David able to live without fear? Why was I able to be brave? The answer is found in righteousness. The answer is found in walking according to the law of the LORD, that is, the law of Christ.
While I served in the Air Force, I had no fear because we knew we were on the side of truth. We studied long and we trained hard. We assessed our capabilities and limitations astutely and without embellishment. Then we imposed our will on evil men who slept under the false security blanket of darkness.
Now, as a Christian, I see how the LORD and his son Jesus the Christ have ordered our steps. Do you see it?
When I walk in love, I do not fear. The result is predictable and immediate: blessing.
When I walk in joy, I do not fear. The result is predictable and immediate: blessing.
When I walk in peace, I do not fear. The result is, again, predictable and immediate: blessing.
When I walk in patience, I do not fear.
And on and on. When I walk in kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, I do not fear.
I do not fear. I am brave.
Or as David put it so long ago, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”
From the ancient Greek poets down to registered nurses of our day, those with eyes to see have observed that there is a time element to fear and pain. But fearlessness isn’t bestowed in the hospitals or in the theaters. It is found in the Word of God. It is given by the LORD; it comes from walking with the Holy Spirit.
So I don’t like admitting that there are ever any parts of anything to do with Batman that I question, but for a long time I had a lingering doubt that the whole “Make the climb…without the rope” theory would work. You know, the idea that only when we are spurred on by the fear of death in all its finality will we truly find the strength to do what needs to be done. Well, it turns out I was wrong. The fear of death does increase jumping distance.
Picture this: H- and I at the pool. Goggles on. We’re in the three-foot deep shallow end. Every four seconds she’s adding the post-script to what I can only describe as an entry into a no-holds-barred splashing contest, “See, Daddy? I can swim?”
I smile and say, “Just about.”
Then she says, “I want to jump in.”
I say, “Go ahead.”
She gets out of the pool and with a decent running start proceeds to jump into this same three-foot deep shallow end of the pool. Her head never does go fully under the water and she says, “Ow.”
I say, “You should tuck your knees up so you don’t just land on your feet.”
She says, “Like a cannon-ball?”
I say, “Yep.” So off she goes for attempt number two.
“Ow. I can’t really do a cannon-ball.”
I say, “Well, then, you should come over to the deeper end and jump in.” She starts shaking her head and I soothe, “I’ll be there. Don’t worry.”
Notwithstanding all the splashing, she actually can stay afloat a while during her attempts to swim in the shallow end. And if I remember right, swimming is like riding a bike. Add these things together, and you will see me a decent bit away from the wall in the hopes that when she jumps in, she may just start swimming to me and more importantly, realize she actually can swim. Ta da.
Instead, I learn that she can jump a helluva lot farther than I ever expected or have seen before as she nearly tackled me in a leap that can only be described as springing from legs attached to a brain that really thought a visit to the pool with her father might be the last event on her earthly journey.
The lesson: Teach kids how to swim before how to read the number four.
His fingers slid along the front side of the envelope. He recognized the sender as one capable of bearing no news or bad news. The fear of bad news might be why he heard his fingers as they slid, a sort of low hiss. He was near his breaking point. His body was on full alert. Finding a slight opening near the seal, he heard the envelope tear as he wondered why anyone would ever buy a letter opener. He unfolded the pages, hyper-extending the crease with a pop. Next, the sound of paper against paper filled his ears as his left hand unveiled the second page.
Then, there was no sound.
In that moment, in that void, he did what any good soul does when receiving bad news. He used the limitless silence to escape. He filled the silence with questions, with doubts, with denial. That led to him filling the silence with Lawrence Fishburne’s voice. “You have to let it all go Neo. Fear. Doubt. Disss-Bee-lief.” Finally, he filled the void with a smile. Because the truth was–the truth was that from rock bottom there is only one way out. Up.
Then, as always, laughter broke the silence.
The woods are
Always darkest first, I remember.
It’s just the two of us.
He says we need to hurry because
It’ll be too dark to see
Each step directly in front of the last,
The trail’s raised edges keep my vanishing course sure.
Darkness encroaching, he says to go faster.
I am struck by terror.
It is dark,
We’re separated from the group,
We are alone.
He is big,
I am small.
Could I out run him?
The plants are coming faster now,
Like my heartbeats, thoughts,
I want to sprint,
Campfire voices announce the end.
I look into his eyes.
He says he’d rather not
Be out so late next time.
(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions).
Clicking away at the keyboard, he suddenly found himself grabbing the mouse, about to highlight and delete everything. He couldn’t possibly publish it. He was a good dude; what would people think?
He sometimes wanted to write some horror posts–he wanted to graphically describe the most gruesome paths out of this life.
He sometimes wanted to write some posts from a women’s perspective–he wanted to have some fun exploring how the female human navigates this world.
He wanted to write without abandon. He wanted to swear, he wanted to be passionate. More times than not he wanted to cause people who knew him to say, “I can’t believe he wrote that.”
But as soon as the words manifested themselves on the screen, he’d hesitate. “What if they don’t like it? What if they think I went too far?” he’d ask himself. “Ah, fuck it,” he’d answer, clicking the publish button. And then he’d feel it–a rush like no other.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!”
He’d then laugh out loud thinking, “If people only knew how much energy I put into each post…they’d think I was nnnuts.”
And there was something more. Behind all of this he would tell himself that his daughter might someday read his posts. And if he guessed correctly, by that time she would be fascinated that he wasn’t quite the man she’d taken him for all those years. He’d hope that if she wasn’t there yet, this realization would be the weight that would finally and forever tilt the scales of how she’d live the rest of her life towards courageously, without fear, without worry, and without anxiety. Just the way he strove to.
Instructions for How To Make Blogging Thrilling
Step 1 — WRITE what you think.
Step 2 — DO NOT DELETE what you wrote.
Step 3 — PUBLISH what you wrote.