Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fear, Anger, And Judgement.

Ok. Today I’ve got several topics, but bear with me. They’re all related. I promise. 
So. The first topic is fear. I’ve talked a little bit about fear before. And I can honestly say it’s never really been something I’ve struggled with. One of my favorite past times is laughing in the face of things most people would find terrifying. The few things that I have been afraid of I’ve tackled and conquered. Does this mean that I live without fear? Not necessarily. I’m just particularly good at putting on a brave face and pushing past the fears. 
I want to look at fear in several different situations. The first being a situation that I’ve become exceedingly familiar with over the last year and a half. Fear in birth. Let me tell you a story.
At the end of January, right after my last blog post, I got a text from one of my continuity patients. I’ve been her midwife since the beginning of her prenatals. Her English was really good and she and I were really able to talk a lot about birth and what to expect in labor. I built strong relationship with her and she trusted me. So she texted me to tell me that she was in labor and was coming in to the clinic. I put on scrubs  and waited for her in the birth room. She arrived about 45 minutes later and I checked her in. All of her vital signs were normal. I did an IE and she was 7cm dilated. I figured that since it was her first baby, she’d be at least three or four more hours. So she and I sat down and talked about what was happening and what was going to happen. We talked about different positions for laboring and pushing. I told her that it was all up to her. She could labor however she wanted and push in any position other than standing on her head. 
So she labored outside for a little while and then after about 15 minutes came in to use the bathroom. When she was done, I noticed that she stayed in the bathroom, just forward leaning against one of the walls so I just went and stood with her and talked to her. 
Not once did she cry or make any loud noises. Every once in awhile she’d say that the contractions were kind of painful. She kept asking how she would know when to push. I told her that her body would let her know and it would probably be pretty obvious. Usually the women here have a strong urge to push rather early on in their labors. She and I stood there for probably 45 minutes. I rubbed her back and told her birth stories. Then, she looked at me and said “Ash, I think I feel the head!” 
It was only an hour after I’d checked her, so I doubted that it really was the head, but I checked anyways. I knelt down and she lifted up her skirt and sure enough, I could see about 2cm of the baby’s head! I calmly looked up and said “I think we should go back to the bed now.” She walked slowly to the bed. Waited a moment for her mother to get there and then took about a minute and a half to decide what position she wanted to push in. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to me, she decided on squatting. She got into a half squat and I could see about 5cm of the baby’s head. I put my hand on her belly and when she had a contraction I told her to push. She pushed twice and the baby slid out. She sat on the bed, I put her baby into her arms, and she began nursing almost right away. She never had an urge to push. Never said it was unbearably painful. Never once complained. 
She trusted me. She wasn’t afraid to give birth. She knew I was going to take care of her. She didn’t fully understand every last thing that was happening, but she knew that I (technically) did. Her trust in me allowed her to relax, focus on her labor, and give birth without fear. And so she followed my instructions and had the best birth I have seen in a year and a half.
Now, I contrast this to many of the women I see every day. Women who beg to go to the hospital because it’s too painful. Women who scream and cry. Women who are so scared and nervous that they’re throwing up. Women who can’t cope with labor. Why? Because of fear. Because they don’t have a loving, trust filled relationship with their midwife.
This can be likened to our relationship with God. Often times He asks us to trust Him, even though we may not understand everything that is happening. He wants to help us, but in order for that to happen, we have to give Him our full trust. Sometimes it’ll be hard and painful. But if we are in fear and don’t trust Him fully, we amplify our pain. We work ourselves up until we can’t cope. 
Trust in God ties in to my next point. Anger.
Here’s my big thing about anger. It usually does no good. People who know me know that I almost never get angry. Frustrated? Yes. Snarky? Yes. Sarcastic? Yes. Angry? No. Not usually. However, on the occasion that I do get angry, it’s pretty scary. I’m a screamer. Occasionally I throw things. It’s something I’m working on.
But anger has never accomplished anything for me other than make me cry so hard that I threw up. 
We’ve been having lots of trouble with our router lately. I have to reset it several times a day, sometimes several times an hour to keep the internet working. It’s especially frustrating when I’m trying to talk to someone far away. Today, as I was reseting the router for the umpteenth time, one of the girls from the other house (their internet is fine)asked me how I do it. She said “I don’t get how you don’t get so mad about it. I couldn’t reset it all the time and not get angry.” 
I thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well... we’re working on getting a new router. And getting mad at this one isn’t going to accomplish anything. It’s just a piece of machinery. Getting mad isn’t going to make it work faster or better. Getting mad is just going to make me mad and then no one will want to be around me.”
It’s true. Anger won’t make anyone or anything work harder or better or faster. It just makes you no fun to be around. 
However, there is a time and a place for anger. Even Jesus got angry.
Here’s the other thing about anger. It’s a human response. And as humans, we are going to respond in human ways. Getting angry every once in awhile, even if it’s an irrational or unjustified anger doesn’t mean you’re not having faith. Anger is an emotion and with any emotion you have a choice. You say “Ok. This is a natural response to this event. I can let this emotion get out of hand or I can feel this emotion for a moment and then it can go away.” Do I get mad at the router? Oh yes. I wrote an entire song about it. Sometimes, I want to throw the router through our concrete walls. Do I? No. Just because I’m angry doesn’t mean I have to act on it or hold on to it. 
Here’s another example. A friend of mine is traveling in Europe right now. He told his bank that he’d be in Europe and they said it was fine, they wouldn’t freeze his credit card. Well, today, they froze his credit card. And it’s Friday. They won’t be open until Tuesday. And they don’t have a phone number that he can call and reach someone at until Tuesday. He’s stranded in Europe with no money at all. He’s flat broke. Was he angry? Yes. It sucks when you’re broke in a foreign country. He is not, however, scared or worried. He knows that God is in control. That’s faith right there if you ask me. Things didn’t go as planned. But instead of freaking out, he said “Ok God. It’s in your hands.” And then he moved on. Is he still angry? Probably. But he chose to not dwell on his anger and to make the best of a bad situation.
Anger is a natural response in that situation. When you’ve specifically been told that something will not happen and then it does, anger is the human response. Is it a wrong response? Only if your reaction to the anger is to go home and cuss out your bankers. Only if you dwell on your anger and let it dictate your response. Only if you let it control you.
And now, I will talk about hate or judgement. 
What does dwelling on your anger cause? Hate! What does fear cause? Judgement. Awhile back, I was reading through Romans and a verse really popped out at me because it dealt with a situation I was in at the time. Romans 14 says: (I’ve bolded the parts that really stood out)
1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Verse 22 really stood out to me. Keep whatever you believe about these things between you and God. If there is something that is not a fundamental salvation issue and you and someone else disagree on it, keep it to yourself. Don’t try and force them to believe what you believe. If they only eat vegetables and you eat meat, don’t force them to eat meat. However, don’t flaunt your bloody steak in their face either. Don’t judge them just because they don’t agree with you. And if they’re a super traditional uptight Christian who tries to force you to hold to their standards because listening to non-Christian music is a sin? Don’t judge them. Keep your opinion on the matter between you and God. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
So let’s recap. If you are fearful, angry, and judgmental you’re gonna be pretty miserable. Basically:
Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger
Anger leads to hate
Hate leads to suffering
Yes. I just wrote a blog post off of a Yoda quote. Guess who went and watched StarWars in 3d last week?

May the force be with you my friends. 

1 comment:

Julianne Mason said...

very well written ash!

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