But did you die?​

"Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears." - Marcus Aurelius

 

 

Even though it's a bit of a meme, the title question is one that we should be asking ourselves far more often.

 

 

We classify things as "bad" or "evil" all the time, but are the things themselves bad, or do we simply perceive them as such because they make us feel bad.  Feeling bad is an emotional response.  In theory, we can control our own emotions.  This kind of self-control goes under a few names discipline, stoicism, composure, a stiff upper lip.

 

 

The next time something happens that you consider bad, try to stop and think about whether or not you have actually been injured.  Your feelings might be hurt, but physically you haven't been harmed at all.  If the only injury sustained is emotional, then you are the one causing harm to yourself.  Stop feeling hurt by the "bad" things that happen in life, and you won't be hurt.

 

 

A few weeks ago one of my families calves came down sick. We did everything we could for the poor thing to help.  Finally, one morning we went to check on the calf and found her so weak she couldn't stand up.  That morning, we happened to have an appointment with my brother's Occupational Therapist (OT).  When we realized how dire the calf's situation was, and how much we would need to do to try and save it, I called the OT to tell her we might not be able to make our appointment.  Sadly, less than ten minutes after getting off the phone, the calf died.  I called the OT back and told her we would be at our scheduled appointment.  The Therapist asked how you deal with going from trying to save a dying calf, to packing the car and going to a doctors appointment.  We hadn't died, we weren't harmed.  Of course, we were sad to lose an animal under our care. We tried as hard as we could to save it while it was alive.  But once dead, nothing more could be done.  The only logical response was to continue with our plans.

 

 

In the Bible, King David reacts in much the same way to his son's illness and eventual death. While the child was sick, David spent days praying for God to save his son.  He fasted and tore his clothes with grief.  But once the child died, he stopped crying, cleaned himself up, and thanked God for ending the boy's suffering.  His servants didn't understand how David was so at peace with his son's passing.  He told them "While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Maybe the Lord will let the boy live.’ But now that the child is dead, why should I fast? I can not bring him back to life"

 

 

If you can't make the situation better, then what point would there be in allowing your emotions to affect you?  When something seems bad, ask yourself,  "Did I die? Am I hurt?" if the answer is no, then dust yourself off and get to work doing what you can to make the situation better.

This is a mockup. Publish to view how it will appear live.

Andrew Epps