I’m not sure why, but I actually got a bit excited at the announcement I heard from two elderly ladies in church last Sunday. Having not escaped the decades of wear and tear, her wrinkled skin, grey hair, and a weakened posture didn’t seem to be damper her childlike excitement as she announced that she and her 86 year-old mother were there “just visiting her granddaughter in hopes to be there for the birth of her first great-grandchild and great-great-grandchild respectively.” Anxious to be there and perhaps even snag a five generation photo, their excitement was contagious to the rest of us. You heard a low roar of excitement in the room from the crowd of enthusiastic supporters of the good news. Then it hit me…
Yes, this was good news. Surely it was likely that there would be hours and hours of painful labor with medical and family personnel walking the halls in anticipation of this event. And yes, there are some dangerous, even fatal possibilities involved in giving birth, but I can’t recall ever hearing someone’s news of expecting a child being smothered by all of the possible gloom and doom that comes with it, can you? I mean really, if I were to finally announce that I was pregnant, what kind of a moron would say “Oh my gosh! Pregnancy will make you feel subhuman with all of the barfing, strange mood swings, and even stranger food cravings. Your back will hurt; your hips will hurt; your ankles will swell; and you won’t want anyone to come within 10 feet of your breasts. Labor is going to be the worst pain you’ve ever gone through in your life; and there will be lots of blood and lots of tears and you’ll just want to die! And then afterwards you may even have a serious case of post-partum depression!?”
Seriously, has anyone who’s announce the pending birth ever been confronted with such a response? NO! Of course not. Instead we overlook the inevitable “terrible twos” and the “mind-numbing teenage years” which are surely ahead; and we truly rejoice that another life will be brought to a loving family to nurture and to care for. Perhaps we allow ourselves to dream as to what a great person this little embryo will become to our family, our home, our community or even our nation. Yes, for most, anticipation of the birth of a child is surely a joy-filled emotion in spite of all of the preparation that’s necessary. Certainly it’s not a dreaded event laced with debilitating fear and paralyzing panic. I’ve seen plenty of soon-to-be new parents shopping among the baby supplies for that first bed, the ideal wallpaper, and so forth. Smiles abound and even seem to be laced with a reverent joy.
So…question for you; why do we tolerate a gloom and doom, fear and panic kind of a response in our life when it comes to preparedness? In fact, I believe that the two scenarios are quite similar. Yes, there will be labor pains beyond imagination. Yes, there is a great deal of unknown. But once a family is shored up with appropriate baby supplies, knowledge, and medical care, we tend to easily overlook the painful and fearful side of things in lieu of the joy of the occasion. We find a great many reasons to celebrate even when directly in the path of the stress and hard work involved in the delivery of a new baby. Our trepidation is swallowed up greatly by the comprehension of sharing in the creation of one of the earth’s greatest blessings, and it’s truly awe-inspiring.
Yes, I understand that a financial collapse will be devastating to everyone regardless of their level of preparedness, because it will still manifest scenes of sorrow and despair of which we never fully anticipated or conceived. Yes, a serious earthquake in the mid-west area around where Tennessee and Missouri meet is sure to be felt all the way up to Maine and to bring chaos all the way down to the tip of the peninsula and cost many lives and billions of dollars worth of damage. And yes, a terrorist-launched electromagnetic pulse would throw our nation back to the 18th century in many ways. But in spite of those challenges, can we not still be prepared and thus look forward to such as an event and have faith that “all will be well” if we are suitably prepared? In fact are there not countless indications that in the face of such an event, all might actually be much more improved than it is now?
While there are countless stories that alarm us, such as when we read of the aftermath of the breaking of the Teton Dam, the bombing of the World Trade Center, and the devouring effects of hurricane Katrina, we also are encouraged by all that went right—families drawn closer, priorities reestablished, and fortitude strengthened. Perhaps this is why, when I think of tougher times, I can honestly say that I have a sense of peace where others only see from a perspective of fear. I even feel a bit excited to see how things will pan out. I don’t consider myself naïve as to the unpleasantries that will be a part of such events, rather I feel driven to do what I can now in comfortable circumstances to alleviate as much of those unpleasant circumstances in the future as I can. In fact, I guess when you dig right down to the core of my being, that’s what preparedness is about for me—being able to focus on “the better part” and to have joy therein. This belief is such a conviction to me, that I actually feel a bit ruffled when I hear words such as “disaster, emergency, and food storage” as if someone is attempting to rob me of, or at least dilute the peaceful reality of, the upcoming events as I see them.
In an effort not to offend anyone’s particular value system I won’t get into all of the why’s and what not’s that cause me to feel that I have reason to actually look forward to tougher times, but I will say that I do indeed believe that upcoming challenging times are indeed very symbolic of giving birth to a new life, and as such can be anticipated with joy or fear. It’s a choice.
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