The Perils of Caring

In one of the Star Trek movies (the Next Generation, not the classic Kirk ones), Lt. Commander Data, the super smart android, gets an emotion chip that allows him to feel. He is almost overwhelmed by the flood of emotional content, from sadness to extreme giddiness, and laments how emotions can be so fulfilling and yet so destructive and debilitating. I have to concur. I sometimes wish I could take the emotional content of my brain, place it in a bottle, and label it as “contents under pressure”, where I would shake it up and release it only when there was a safe perimeter where no one, including myself, would be hurt. Unfortunately, they remain within the fragile and all too easily breached container of my own being.

In short, I wish I didn’t get hurt so easily, by rejection, failure, or the misery and rejection of others. It makes for a poor leader that can’t handle watching his followers take a necessary hit of humble pie, even when they need it. It also makes a less than appealing husband, when it’s necessary for one of us, namely me, to maintain a sense of optimism when my better half is feeling the worse. And as a father, I’m probably guilty of not showing my kids how to handle adversity without looking like adversity is handling me. There is a thin line between true grit and determination and false hope, but I know I’ve been too visibly down around the kids, and they know when things aren’t right. Shutting off the dissapointments of life isn’t healthy, but neither is the wallowing, and I’ve lost the balance lately.

Not that I can complain – the roof hasn’t caved in yet (although these storms keep us on our toes – we can’t call a roofer because the next storm is always two days away), the kids finally have their curriculum for the year, and the car has held up for three months longer than I thought it would. But relationship wise, I’m coming to realize that my desire for real friends and strong interdependant relationships has been unmet, because I have no safe area to vent. When I hear things like the craziness surrounding the elections, instead of thinking “Tsk, tsk”, and going about my business, I instead feel like throwing the TV through the wall. I nearly cried when I heard our school superindentent was bought out over dumb personality conflicts and not over his actual job performance. Injustice and conflict seem to be daggers pointed directly at my heart, and I just wonder if there is a place where I could hole up and let someone else care.

I suppose there are things I could do. I could throw myself more into helping others, as I taught at Bible Study on Tuesday – find others lower than myself and help them up. I could spend more time with the kids and really get into their loves and desires, and keep myself from spending too much time worrying about my molehills masquerading as mountains. I could simply be more tough skinned, give myself a 1 Timothy pep talk about power, love and sound mind replacing the spirit of fear.

Or, I can admit that God made me tenderhearted. Admit that I may be wired to be sensitive to the cares of others, and accept the joys and pains of empathy. And when the darts of life pierce through the membrane of my emotional bubble, I can shuffle to my Father, holding it up like a child shows a mother his skinned knee, asking for a kiss of healing. The Father asks, “Show me where it hurts.” I point to my heart, and wait for the feeling of being care for to wash over the pain and soothe the hurt over with a salve of security. No cream, Band-Aid, or antiseptic can do what that one kiss of comfort does – remind me that Someone cares more than I ever could.

Looking unto the hills,

homeschooldaddy

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