Ah-choo … September 10, 2012

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I like to sneeze. I didn’t used to like to do it. At one time in my life, I thought every sneeze was a precursor of the common cold, lending itself to bronchitis or even pneumonia. I now realize that a sneeze can be quite a pleasant experience–the body’s way of expelling something unnecessary in the nasal passages so the little troupers can work better. If you think about it, a sneeze feels good–clears the head and lends itself to an invigorating nose blowing. It’s not only healthy to sneeze, it’s also quite beneficial to accept the fact that sneezinghappens (although I don’t think you’ll ever see that on a bumper sticker).

Original caption: Not faked. I was trying to t...

Original caption: Not faked. I was trying to take a hankie photo cos I have a cold and sneezed! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the question: what else happens? What other factors are so common to us as human beings–and needful–that they pepper our existence every day?I can immediately think of two: failure and fear.

Let me play prophet. I predict that you, sometime during this twenty-four-hour period, will experience a failure, and will need to deal first-hand with a fear cropping up in your life. You see? That’s a guarantee.

After all, chances are you won’t win the lottery. It’s unlikely someone will walk up on the street and tell you how beautiful you are. You probably won’t get that promotion. And rainbows are saved for special occasions–or we wouldn’t pull the car over to stop and look at them. What IS going to happen to every human being every single day is failure and fear.

Now, nobody wants to talk about this because it sounds negative. But believing that failure and fear are negatives is similar to thinking that every sneeze is going to lead to death. Just as the common sneeze is available to us to expel unnecessary invaders in our sinuses, failure and fear come into our lives to excavate and evict emotional, spiritual and mental intruders. It’s just hard to understand that. It’s difficult when anticipation paints such a beautiful picture of what could be–to end up, in its place, with a smeared finger-painting done by a five-year-old.

Failure hurts. Then fear comes along to try to relieve the pain by replacing it with an ache of its own. And then, of course, we have the compounding situation that we begin to experience failure because we’re afraid. So on top of the natural conclusions that happen via time and chance, we add unnecessary decisions brought about by weakness and anxiety.

So how can we learn to be the kind of people who approach failure and fear like we do sneezing? After all, spirituality is not expressed through the amount of study we pursue, but through the confidence that is left behind through the graduation.

If you believe in God, your face should look more hopeful than the face of someone who doesn’t believe. It can’t be faked; it has to be real.

Since I am going to fail, what is my best reaction to the inevitable shortcoming that invites my long-suffering? Jesus said it was good cheer. Of course, good cheer sounds like something we wish people at Christmas time, as we are surrounded by bows, presents, pine trees and holly. But good cheer is the awareness that filure is our friend. Good cheer knows that most failure is the way to get rid of bad ideas, and if we stop resisting the natural conclusion to pursuing an inadequate path, we don’t have to waste time having our feelings hurt or wondering where we made a bad turn.

The only real certainty in life is uncertainty. So how can I co-exist with an uncertain life plan and still be of good cheer? It’s really quite plain: prepare to adjust.

For instance, when they repair your car, they tell you to come in later on to have it adjusted. We don’t question that–it makes sense. Driving down the road can shake things up, make things different and loosen up parts. We gladly comply. Yet when we make repairs on our lives, we think they should be air-tight and never need a good screw-down. Ridiculous.

Good cheer is the willingness to watch out for signs that tell us we need to adjust, and then to go ahead and do it without feeling loss or frustration over the revision. That is what keeps us from fear.

Fear is what comes into our lives when we lose love. What is love? Love is a committed affection. So fear enters our thoughts when we lose our commitment. And what should we be committed to do? Pursuing our plan and preparing to adjust. It’s not merely pursuing our plan. We must be willing to commit to the evolution that is inevitable in all things earth-bound.

And then we have to maintain the affection. You see, there are people who make corrections to their previous plans, but they do it in such a nasty, angry way that they abandon the joy and fun in the process. Is there anything uglier than feeling compelled to do good? Affection for life is what gives us passion for each other, ending up with yearning to have a closeness with God.

When we lose our commitment, the fear of what is going to happen next overwhelms us. When we walk away from our affection, the fear that we’ve placed our faith in the wrong project taunts us.

Ssince failure and fear are as common as sneezing, and we intelligently follow the action of sneezing with, “God bless you,” we should follow all failure with good cheer and all hints of fear with love–a committed affection.

In conclusion, I will tell you that in touring on the road, my plans are dashed dialy without apology or the courtesy of a phone call. I am often frightened by the mortality of aging and the limitations of my skill and finance.

What I do is maintain my sense of good cheer by fully being aware that God has nothing to gain by making me look like a fool. I overcome my fear by recommiting to quality ideas that are evolving and finding new reasons to give a big hug to why I do what I do in the first place.

Failure and fear are much like sneezing. They help us expel foreign objects from our being that intend us no good. If you can learn to at least understand them, if not enjoy them, you gain the control of your next move and brighten the countenance of your future.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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