There are some serious down sides to every human life, no matter how good it is (or appears) otherwise to onlookers. Heart-rending, heart-breaking, heart-thundering. I could all but be hired to write a Christmas letter for folks, but no matter how glowingly I or another may relate something, you can be sure of one thing: I or another is keeping the bad at bay. That’s how we do! Not hidden — at bay.
The bad is not going to overwhelm me, although I let it do so once. Once was once, period. I thought about laying my life down in the worst way, and it would’ve benefitted absolutely no one. We don’t see that at the time, though, and things can indeed feel overwhelming and — worst of all — unchangeable, so we have to learn to keep the bad at bay.
If possible, we also need to trust in a higher intelligence that cares about each and every one of us, trust in a higher love to pull the good from the bad and make it pay off for us — right here, right now in this life. If we can’t believe, or can’t yet, then we need to trust in the love of others to haul us through the fire — and we need to somehow trust that our love is JUST as crucial to someone else. “God is love,” says John, but “Love is God” is something we can all say immediately understandably.
One way or another, though, we have to choose to keep the bad at bay. It doesn’t just happen. The best way to do that is to think of the good or to at least remember it — or to actively look for it. One example: An agnostic friend with whom we were simply having dinner suddenly demanded to know what kind of God would take his beloved father away like that, so early in life (years before). I said with far more trepidation than is obvious (and there’s precious little time to pray for a wise answer when someone’s eyes are boring into yours, waiting..), “Maybe the same God Who gave you this lovely woman and these lovely children for your family.”
I expected a horrible argument for such a seemingly lame response. There was silence (most thankfully) — and a considering nod (praise God! No one wants to prove the existence of God as much as one wants to wish another to consider the existence of God’s LOVE. Only His love is more powerful than ours. Ours is limited, finite. His is not.. and He sees around corners!)
Above all, though, however we do it, we must keep the bad at bay by forefronting the good in our lives, which is almost always immeasurably bigger than the bad, and far more concrete. We must focus on the good. The blessings (of prosperity or health). The peace. The love. No matter how small or fleeting it presently seems. The laughter. The sharing. The kind words. The pleased look in someone’s eye. The lilacs, the birds, the sun on the water, the sand, the wharf, the us-victorious alleyways, the sports non-fumble that gained a moment of glory, the musical note that came out perfectly, the recent “Good morning!” The hope someone has for us. The patience, too.
In a word, “life” (if not yet, in a word, “love”). We must let life of every kind keep death of every kind at bay. Make it do so. We must focus on the good — hold it so close that nothing from the evil one comes between for long — and live. Truly live.