Praying for Sparkle

There are periods in each of our lives when we just can’t catch a break.

Weeks and months where everything seems to go wrong all at once: someone we love gets sick; our patience with that annoying co-worker runs out and we do the obvious: lose our filter and say something we should never, ever have said out loud; our inbox is filled with emails about what we did wrong, what we should have done differently, and how we’re failing at whatever it is we’re attempting to do; we’re fighting with our spouse or our kids or our parents.

Those are the weeks that, for me, are exasperated by patterns like: spilling my coffee on myself every morning by tripping over the cat, slamming on the brakes not-soon-enough in tight traffic, someone else eating the leftover brownie I had been saving.for.myself….since.yesterday., running perpetually late to every meeting, appointment, commitment.

I respond with what Truman Capote termed “the mean reds” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m not depressed exactly, but I get scared. Holly Golightly said it this way, “…the blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.”

The mean reds strike me in those stretches of time when things are piling up and instead of taking care of myself in those moments, I fall into old patterns – I let fear propel me. I put up more and more lines of defense, I strike out at the people I can (the people who love me the most), and I isolate. I’m afraid because I can’t see myself anymore. I’ve begun to believe that I am failing, that who I really am is the person who snaps at her colleagues and walks around in perpetually coffee-stained t-shirts.

You might be better accustomed to welcoming fear than I am. But I have to tell you, I’m just learning how to do this. I suspect if I welcomed fear and asked it questions …

  • why do I think my personhood hinges on this angry person’s frustration with me?
  • is anxiety and depression the best response to my dear one’s illness? is it helpful to either one of us?

… it might not have quite so impressive a grip on me.

My friend Jack told me that when life gets rough, we should surround ourselves with people whose eyes light up when they see us coming. I think that’s the sagest thing I’ve heard in a good while.

The next time fear and the mean reds tighten their grip on us, let’s find the people whose eyes sparkle when they see us. Let’s go to where they are and breathe deeply.  Let’s look for spaces and people who will remind us of who we really are. Amen.

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