Eat the Oreos and Lean in…

If you ever had a problem you went to dad with, you know he did not sugarcoat his advice. If he thought you needed to get your crap together, he told you without mincing words. I think that is one thing I appreciated about him. He was a no-nonsense kind of advice giver. I feel like a lot of people just walk on eggshells and tell you what they think you want to hear so you feel better in the moment. Dad cracked those shells like a boss. He was gentle and kind, but also filled with truth and tough love.

I do not take after dad in that regard. In our family, we joke about “dad genes and mom genes.” I got the mom gene here – completely non-confrontational. I would rather encourage you by devouring a bag of Oreos together and wallowing alongside you in your sadness. I really do think it is okay, even healthy, to sit in sadness for a time – the Oreos are just a bonus. We need to feel emotion to understand it. Once we understand the root of why we are sad in the first place, we can process it and heal. We tend to fall prey to the, “wipe your tears and move on” mentality, but sometimes moving on too quickly does more harm than good. Now, don’t get me wrong – dad did not rush things. If he needed to eat some Oreos with you, he sure would. He would just take notice of when the bag was empty.

We are messy people. Fear, doubt, and worry can consume us if we let it. Depression and anxiety have skyrocketed in our society. We have failed to recognize there is purpose in pain. We are prone to wander and yet love quick fixes that bring us home. It is a never-ending cycle.

We love to be brought home with words of affirmation, but that does not fix our problems. You know what it does? It makes us feel good for a moment. It takes our mind off the situation for a moment. It even makes us open our Bible for a moment. But it will not change us for a lifetime. In fact, in the long-term, it will make us shallow and insecure because if we believe we are okay when we are not okay, we will not change a thing to make us truly okay. And soon, old feelings and emotions will resurface, and we will wander once again.

That is not what God intended for us. His desire is not for us to struggle through life, but his desire is also not for us to believe lies – even if they sound good and make us feel better. We all want to be accepted for who we are, but none of us want to accept we have stepped away from whose we are – and sometimes we have taken giant leaps, not of faith – but of fear.

I was supposed to go on vacation a few years ago. I was planning a road trip to Maine with Gavin, with stops in New York and Massachusetts to visit Nicolle and Scott. As it got closer and closer to the trip, I got more and more fearful. What if my car broke down? What if I got lost {that was pretty much a guarantee}? What if Gavin got sick? What if I got into an accident? My anxiety went through the roof and the bad scenarios running through my head got the best of me. I called dad and told him I did not think I could make the trip. He was not mad, but told me I was just like mom with my anxiety. We both laughed because it was true. Before we hung up, he said, in his gentle but firm eggshell cracking way, “You can cancel your trip, but you can’t cancel your life. You need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It really is not that hard.”

While it stung to hear, I knew dad was not wrong. I needed to get a grip quick before I allowed the anxiety to spiral out of control.

I fear the message we hear the world tell us is that we are okay just the way we are – but maybe we aren’t? The truth is, sometimes we simply need to break bad habits and address the things that make us revel in fear, live in anxiety, and self-soothe with addiction. When we ignore the root cause of our pain and cover up the “yuck” with happy thoughts and justified behavior, we simply dig a bigger, deeper hole to eventually have a mental breakdown in. Trust me – I have been there. It is freaking hard to crawl out of, so let me save you some grief with a little advice from my dad.

As hard as it is, it is much better to figure out what the problem is and face it. Change it. Release it. So, go ahead and finish the Oreos, but when the last cookie has been dunked in milk, brush the crumbs off your shirt and lean into Jesus. Listen to what he has to say to you and about you. He might tell you that you are not okay, but it is truth you need to hear. Let it settle deep and transform you from the inside out. Afterall, you cannot cancel your life. Stop wandering, friend, and live.

~ D 🙂

This entry was posted in care, encouragement, family, God, grace, grief, wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

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