No one really knows you like your mother. She’s seen me grow and evolve. She’s seen me succeed and she’s seen me fall miserably.
Our relationship has grown past mother-daughter into friendship. As least, that’s the lie I try to tell myself.
I figured out what a faker I was after church last Sunday. I had an appointment to plan world domination with one off my business partners later that evening, and wanted to stop by my mom’s house to visit.
I saw Mom at church, and she said she was going straight home. I had a short meeting with the minister (more world domination in the works), and headed over to her house.
When I got to her parking lot, her car wasn’t there.
That’s weird, I thought.
I waited for a few minutes.
Maybe she took another way home, I thought.
What if something happened? I called her cell phone. No answer.
Then I made a decision. There was a gap in information. My storytelling mind woke up.
It told me some of the most horrific stories about why my mother wasn’t at her house when I expected her.
I was beside myself with fear. I called her cell phone 5 more times, and each unanswered ring sent my inner storyteller on a journey further into darkness.
I became a 5-year-old who was lost in the mall. I left her parking lot and started to drive in the direction that I thought she went.
The prayers began. Somewhere in the midst of those prayers a very quiet voice said, “Shhh.”
I’m convinced that the red horse of John’s Revelation is an incarnation of fear. Fear is a beast that you unleash. I was on the wild horse with no way to get off.
I’m a storyteller by gift and by craft. Like any power I am given, I can use it creatively or destructively. In another post, I’ll discuss how to control this life-changing power.
In the 20 minutes that followed I created every nightmare. I stopped at a gas station, the sky opened up with rain, and I got quiet. I was exhausted, and I gave up.
Where was she?
More important, where was I?
If I could control her behavior, then I wouldn’t be afraid. If I knew exactly where she was, then I would be free to trust all was right in the world.
The foundation of my fear was my sense of powerlessness.
Now, every self-development guru out there will tell you that the sense of powerlessness is false. You have all the power in the world to change your circumstances, they will tell you.
Great. What about the circumstances of the people you care about?
Riiight. You can’t change those.
So what’s the option?
Admit it. You are powerless. At any moment, the stars can fall out of the sky, and even if you are unscathed, someone else you love may be.
There are a few ways to handle this. You can become higher than it all. Practice detachment. Pray for others but move your feet even if they don’t move theirs.
I’ve tried that. It’s lonely.
Or you could go all in. Live with people. Be afraid for them. Hear their pain and feel powerless. All great teachers stepped away from the books, got out of the churches and temples, and walked with people. Watch people fall, and get bruised. It’s messy. You’ll get hurt too.
But that is your true power. You will heal, and the world needs your big heart. We need your optimism. We need your pragmatism. We need you to tell us it won’t work, and we need you to love us when we fail anyway. Come into the fray with us. You are strong enough to live a fully engaged, imperfect life.
I used to avoid the news because I didn’t want to let the horrors permeate my consciousness. Obviously, I didn’t need the news. Now, I pray that whatever I hear I can be a light, and I can offer my strength if only for a moment. Buddhists call this the practice of tonglen.
That is the true spiritual practice. Changing what you can, being the light when you can, and walking into the darkness so that none of us are really alone when it’s our time to go there.
By the way, my mother decided to go grocery shopping.
A sense of powerlessness is a call from the divine. Shared strength is the reason we are here, and we evolve most fully in the midst of each other.
What do you think? Can you surrender to your fear and live fully anyway?