Thursday, June 29, 2017

Living in the Shadow of the Fire

For those of you that haven't seen the news, there's a BIG fire near us, the Goodwin Fire. We hear see fire bombers fly overhead constantly. We see water tankers, fire trucks, and cop cars flooding the highways. The air is heavy with smoke. Our community hasn't been evacuated yet, but multiple communities around us have. I vigilantly checking the internet to determine the size of the fire, the progress made on fighting it, and the latest evacuation news. It's nerve-wracking. Everyone is extra edgy and extra quick to snap, show anger, or even explode.

I've gotten to thinking that this might be what it's like to live with a chronic mental illness, to be constantly edgy, to worry about the doom of an impending relapse, to live in the light of a monster. Maybe this is taking things too far, being too metaphorical, but I think it's an important idea to consider. When we see people acting a bit “off,” are we curious about the reasons behind their edginess? Do we have compassion and empathy for what their situation might be, or do we just judge them? Do we show extra patience towards individuals we know who struggle with mental illness or some other looming life issue? Or do we hold them to high, unattainable, unreasonable standards? Do we focus on ourselves and our fears, or look towards others who might be struggling? Do we practice legalism, or practice grace?

Everybody is dealing with something, be it an environmental issue (like a natural disaster), or a mental illness, or a child who is suffering. Practice extra patience. Show grace. Extend love and care. You fight fire with retardant, water, and trailblazing, not with more fire.

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