He that’s secure is not safe. – Benjamin Franklin
Freedom lies in being bold. – Robert Frost
It always begins with such hope, doesn’t it?
We breathe the faint scent of maple and cinnamon, sense the flint of the chilling air as we drive to work and school, pause for a pumpkin-flavored coffee or treat, wrap ourselves in warm scarves and cozy pea coats, scuff our boots against the leaves littering the sidewalks, and say,
This year I will …
Make my kids’ lunches the night before
(I know, a miracle).
Read with the kids more before bedtime.
Get them to bed earlier.
Go for a run before work.
Plan our meals in advance.
Sleep more. Eat better. Exercise more.
Say no more often.
For us homeschool moms, this list might look something like:
I will be kinder, calmer, more patient.
More prepared, enthusiastic, involved.
We will do more activities.
We will do less activities.
We will have more family time. More fun. Less stress. More sleep. Less illness.
Because Momma’s got a plan.
I should know better.
After all, no maternity nurse ever said:
If only they’d had a better plan!
For nearly seven years I have ranted about plans. When I was pregnant with my first
- before I used to help large things come out of small places -
I thought birth plans were a beautiful idea.
Know what you want. Be educated. Don’t let anyone push you around.
But while every laboring woman thinks its a brilliant idea to delineate every nuance of her birthing philosophy in five sentences or fifteen pages, every labor nurse takes one look at the plan and thinks,
let’s just schedule the c-section now.
Because the unfortunate truth is,
In labor, plans work the opposite way that you want them to.
Or as my first perinatal specialty professor used to say:
Tight mind, tight cervix.
So, if there’s anything I’ve learned in the past seven years, its -
How to have a c-section in four easy steps:
1. Write a freaking long birth plan in which you
2. Demand that absolutely nothing go wrong, and if it does, assume
3. The people taking care of you want to force interventions on you, especially a c-section, which you
4. Fear more than death itself.
And in case I sound blaze about all this, moms, know that
there are plenty of good reasons to have a c-section
I get your fear.
I know what it is to be vulnerable.
In fact, I’ve spent most of this week doubting that those in power over me
actually want what’s best for me.
Oh, they say that they do.
What person delivering hard news ever says that they don’t?
But as David knows better than most,
I’m a bit of a skeptic about things like that.
in an ideal world
we would all feel safe,
I’ve spent a good part of my adult life in a less-than-ideal world.
When I first got sick, I had three groups of visitors:
1) those who brought me food,
2) those more upset by my illness than I was, and
3) those sure that if I just took this supplement or that vitamin,
it would all go away.
Or as David likes to say,
My arm was amputated in the World War II! But with only a few drops of Lavender oil, it grew back!
(No, really. Some people sounded that convinced that they could fix me.)
And while the first group kept me going with their listening and laughing and crying and praying and cooking,
the second made me sad
- not for me, but for them –
with their fearful realization that
no easy fix, no lifestyle change, no virtuous living,
- not even my faith -
had bought me a ticket out of disaster.
After all, what else forces us to confront our own fragility
but watching someone we know grapple with a life-threatening disease?
I’ll be honest.
It was too much for some of them.
Because, though none of us live forever,
it doesn’t stop us from trying.
And though none of us avoid pain forever,
it doesn’t stop us from running away from it.
Let’s face it:
We are a society obsessed with avoiding hardship.
We call it staying safe.
And while we’d be fools not to acknowledge the merit in our conventional wisdom of self-preservation,
we’d also be fools to follow that wisdom
right to the end.
Because, before we know it, staying safe has become
in that we are
No longer engaged with life but embalmed from it.
And as I told a friend who
- at times -
fears her reputation for brutal honesty,
Just because we don’t talk about conflict doesn’t mean its not there.
Or as Aragorn said when King Theoden shied away from open war in Tolkien’s classic The Two Towers:
Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.
Friends, conflict is a part of life.
And while we dizzy ourselves thinking – hoping - that if we do the right things, and don’t do all the wrong things,
nothing bad will ever happen to us,
we’ll be safe,
the truth is
while chasing after the best life we might actually cut ourselves off from the real thing.
A couple weeks ago, in the middle of the September school crunch, David and I whisked our girls off to Spanish Banks for a three hour walk – or Nature Treasure Hunt, if you ask the girls – on the south shore of Vancouver’s stunning Burrard Inlet. As we wandered back to our car, I told him about the idea for this blog.
In the middle of a thought, he interrupted me with:
The worst thing you can do when you see a bear is run away.
See, a few months ago I wrote about Brown Bears and Black Bears. My husband’s non-traditional wisdom of Boy Scout training plus Meredith Rock Hounding trips has taught him that
in some things we need to fight
and in others we need only to be still.
So, this week, while I’ve been pondering his
You need to figure out if this a black bear or a brown bear,
I’m also remembering what another wise man has said:
Sometimes we must stay where we are and not run away. – Warren Wiersbe
Here’s the thing:
Staying demands faith.
How can I get out of this?
what can I get out of this?
Friends, the conflict some of you find yourselves in will inevitably propel you to move.
But before emotion launches you headfirst into the open war you’ve been sensing on the horizon,
before you grab your sword with shaking hands and unsteady mind,
you may want to just
and let it simmer.
This is not a lazy waiting. It’s an active waiting. A watchful, patient waiting. A waiting that studies our opponent, observes our allies, prepares, gears up.
A waiting that accepts that life is no longer safe,
grieves the loss of ease,
and prepares to act with thought and
If you find yourself in this moment, in this place, I want you to know that
you are not alone,
what you are walking through is not for nothing.
I’ve spent the last weeks in an ancient story of a man with big dreams and long years of
And at the moment his dream comes to fruition,
he has waited long enough to know that
he was not saved by his own merit
his years spent waiting for nothing.
the waiting was everything.
Our world is not safe.
But there is One Who is completely unfazed by storms and utterly undeterred by wind.
And as the children of Narnia marveled to find that Aslan was not in any way safe but in every way good,
We would do well to realize the same.
and know that
what we’re really craving isn’t safety but
And goodness is rarely found in the encased trenches of a light little sphere.
I’m afraid that one has all the goodness and the other all the appearance of it. – Jane Austen
It is, however, found in the heroes of old, the men and women who’ve learned to thrive
not on conflict
but in it,
and who know that
the end of safety is the beginning of everything else.
A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for. – Grace Hopper
You’re just getting to the good part.