It seems like every time I scroll through my facebook feed or turn on the news or accidentally leave the tv on until Sunday Morning changes over to Meet the Press, I’m inundated with self-absorbed, cowardly public figures. People with a platform for good who do nothing but repeatedly shell out shallow loads of crap in an effort to garner even more attention for their bulging egos. But recently, in this world where it seems like narcissism is rewarded and character is obsolete, I’ve seen outrageous displays of courage in those closest to me.
There’s a woman in my life who’s going through a rough patch, as almost all of us do. While I was showering her in some much-deserved praise about her admirable perspective and mature approach to the situation, she told me about an article she read by Davey Blackburn. Davey is the pastor who lost his pregnant wife Amanda last year in Indianapolis after two men broke into their home and shot her. He wrote an editorial piece called, Run Toward the Roar, in which he talks about embracing and even turning into the most incomprehensible pain; something that feels entirely counter-intuitive and unnerving.
To summarize – though you really should read the post in its entirety because it’s beautiful – it’s about our instinct to protect ourselves from what hurts, or what’s scary, and how that truly doesn’t serve us in the long run. In the wilderness, Davey explains, the male lion will go to the edge of the field and roar as loud as he can. This drives the prey away and, as was the intention, right to the jaws of the ravenous female lion, who is actually the more deadly predator. In fact, most male lions rarely kill. His point is that if we can find the strength to just turn into the roar, into the noise, into the fear, we might just be able to live another day. It’s when we run away from what’s troubling us or scaring us or hurting us that we perish. Or at least parts of us perish. Important parts. But my gosh, it’s so easy to run, isn’t it?
It all very much reminded me of the transformational talk I attended with Glennon Melton Doyle. Thinking back to the Momastery master’s words, I told this friend during one of our come-to-Jesus conversations early on in her turmoil, “Don’t think about a month from now. Don’t think about the end game. Just think about tomorrow. What do you need to do tomorrow?” It’s gratifying to make snap decisions in the heat of a conflict or tragedy. It feels good just to assign a verdict to something that haunts us when it’s unsettled. But I think it takes even more grit to sit with what’s ailing you for awhile – to really let it work through you. To feel every ache and strain and struggle. Decision by decision, conversation by conversation, step by step you will come out on the other side. The wounds will heal. The sun will come out from behind the clouds. And you will be stronger for your suffering.
Another person I’m close to is passing through a really uncomfortable place en route to a healthier lifestyle. He’s working against habits so engrained in his routine he doesn’t know how to fill the hours of his day without them. Shedding certain rituals, as detrimental as they might be, can feel like a death. No one wants to deal with what follows saying, “I love this thing so much, but I know it’s killing me so I have to let it go.” Toxic relationships are still relationships. They still elicit a bond and they still make us feel connected to something.
When I talk to him about it, I know he feels embarrassed and a bit ashamed that his habit has such a hold on him. But who doesn’t have something they’re hooked on or obsessed with or dependent on? I’ve heard my mom say, “Everyone one is addicted to something. It’s just a matter of what that something is.” There’s no sense in letting pride interrupt a quest for help. Weakness isn’t found in the attachment, after all, it’s found in the denial. Weakness is not trying. Weakness is running from the roar. And that kind of weakness will get you every time.
To different degrees and various depths, we’re all broken. Maybe you’re in a valley and you’re a lot broken. Maybe you’re at a peak and those cracks are harder to see, but we all have bumps and bruises. We all have scars from hard-fought battles and shattered spirits. But the people I admire are the ones who don’t just throw a bandage over the bleeding and crawl into bed. I have so much respect for the folks who embrace the pain and the heartache and the brokenness and seek out the rainbow after the thunderstorm.
If the goal is to continue growing as an individual, I can only hope I’m forever surrounded by people as strong and inspiring and badass as the ones I have around me right now. Watching them run toward the roar makes me feel like I can do the same when the occasion arises. Here’s hoping that the courageous always rise to the top.