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When you want to ignore something icky that is going on – whether it is pain, or frustration, or someone else – press in, don’t run away.

I will get in there! I will!

So what exactly does that mean, anyway? It’s one of those things I’ve heard in one form or another my whole life. When I was in my teens and early twenties and dealing with extreme cramps, I remember a dear friend and mentor telling me I had to breathe into the pain and relax rather than fight the painful spasms. I tried. It did help. But I certainly never mastered the concept or the practice. As I began my childbearing years, all the buzz was similar – breathe, relax, and work with the pain, not against it. I was able to birth all six kids naturally with no meds or blocks, but again, I would have to say it was more due to my very high threshold for pain rather than mastering the art of breathing.

And now, the word is to face the difficulties and press in to them. Same concept, different application. The idea is to press in to the grief, the hurt, the confusion, and the pain – to embrace the truth of our emotions and our struggles with life. But, honestly, I have a great deal of difficulty doing it. My almost 7 years with Sassy-girl is an ongoing reminder to me that I still have not mastered the concept or the practice. I’m beginning to think the reason lies deep in my upbringing.

I don’t know about you, but the lessons in the movie Bambi set a high bar in my perspective on life. Thumper’s dad’s words ring in my ears frequently – “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, then don’t say nothin’ at all.” How can you possibly “press in” to your feelings if the basis of being okay, being a nice person, is to always say nice things?

What happens when icky stuff happens? What happens when there people in your life who just down right mean and hurtful? If your main purpose in life is to be nice, then what are you to do? If you’re like me, then you allow them to “abuse” you till you explode. While I have not had to tolerate physical abuse, I certainly tolerated more than my fair share of mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse over my lifetime. Mostly from folks who, I think, just had no more of a clue to what healthy looked like than I did. For the most part, they were acting out of the same ignorance and lack of understanding I was. Not a justification, a simple reality.

I’m just beginning to learn life doesn’t have to look that way. The highest goal is not to be nice. Love needs to be poured out through the filter of truth and truth needs to be lived out through the filter of love.

King David has always held a special place in my heart and in the way I seek to sort out the living out of my faith. And more so today than ever. When was the last time you read one of his Psalms – I mean really read it? Let it soak deep in your soul and the find just right spot of resonance that released a genuine heart-cry and lament? I am learning. It is still with difficulty that I read his psalms of lament and anger and his spoken passion for vengeance without cringing. That is not nice, and he certainly did not seem to even hesitate to say it. What would Thumper’s dad have to say about that?

Would somebody please explain to me why I think I must answer to some unnamed, fluffy-white-tail-chasing daddy rabbit who probably was dinner in somebody’s stew pot that night?! Really!

I hope I’m beginning to get a handle on this! We’ll see …