To Catch a Thief
To Catch a Thief
Nancy loves to ride her bike. She loves how productive riding her bike feels--she's propelling herself, literally transporting herself from one spot to another. A pedal brings progress; multiple pedals bring a new vista. She feels independent, powerful on her bike. Her life feels better when she's on her bike.
She wanted to ride her bike last year and the year before. But, it was like her bike was stolen.
Stolen by stress.
Her bike hung on the wall in the garage. Sure, it's a bit tricky to get the bike down as she has to schimmy between the wall and her husband's car, hoist the bike off its two wall hooks and then schimmy back between the car and the wall, bike overhead, to the driveway. But, she's been doing this dance, the get-my-bike-out-of-the-garage dance, for years.
And, yet, she couldn't. She thought about it. She looked at it. But the stress of the days removed her ability to take down the bike. So, instead she walked. She only had to put on her gym shoes and tie their laces. It was as if that's all she could manage.
It can steal an activity we love, like bike riding. It can steal our patience, our generosity. It can steal our dreams.
When we're stressed, we struggle with jealousy and resentment. We lack grace toward others and ourselves. When we're stressed, we're an internal volcano about to blow.
Stress steals, leaving us feeling we don't have enough, we're not enough. We don't have enough for ourselves and so we become cheap with others, tightly protecting our portion of what little opportunity, choice and good luck we feel the world offers all of us.
The worst part of all this is that stress is not what she seems to be. We pinpoint our stress to our life's circumstances, to our day's responsibilities.
Stress is simply a dressed-up version of self-doubt.
The cure for our self-doubt, I think, is hope. When we have hope, we have energy; we can schimmy in the garage and hoist our bikes. When we have hope, we enjoy another's good fortune, not assuming their good fortune means there's less good fortune for us. When we have hope, we have graciousness--we forgive easily, we give a second chance without a fight. With hope, we are kinder and more forgiving.
With hope, we continue, we resolve, we overcome. With hope, we are generous, insightful and open to taking risks. We encourage others to take their chances..
Self-doubt lulls us into fearing we are wrong. Hope reminds us that it's not about being right or wrong but about being fully present without judgment.
So, if stress steals and hope gives, how do we stay in a hopeful place?
Hope comes from our belief in ourselves. Hope stays when we turn a deaf ear to fear, when we let go of yesterday's mistakes, when we live for today.
Sometimes, it can be so hard to keep that faith in ourselves, to believe we are on the right track, to appreciate the priceless value of our day. When we start to lose hope, we often need another to prop us up by giving us hope. By telling us as I tell you now:
You are strong and resilient and gifted. I believe in you and respect how well you are doing under really challenging circumstances. Although it feels like it is falling apart, it's all coming together for you. I admire how you keep going even as the next step can feel like an impossibility. You are okay. And, you will be okay.
When we feel we've reached our end, we keep the faith when someone else reminds us that we can't reach our end as long as we take one step, however small, forward.
When we can believe in our life, we can put self-doubt in our rear-view mirror.
We can ride our bikes. And, when that's too much, we can just walk.
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