Stop Licking the Fireball!

My three-year old sat on the steps, licking a Fireball. And sobbing.

I love the fiery, hot red candies, and I've gotten my daughter hooked on them, too. However, Atomic Fireballs have become a bit of an issue in our house as of late.

Gabriella begs for one, then takes about two hours to carry the bleeding candy around the house, smearing red onto non-red things and occasionally tasting it and over reacting in her need for water. However, she seems to mostly enjoy the experience.

My son. Not so much. There he is, licking and crying. "It's so spicy!" he sobs. And there I am, begging him to stop eating it.

Oh, kids. They make me laugh. But I also see myself in the foolishness. For me, this election has felt like the equivalent of licking a fireball and sobbing. Anytime I watch the news or scroll Facebook, I'm left crying on the steps, wailing, "It's so spicy!" Then I go back for more.

Last weekend, we spent our Fall Break at the lake thanks to the generosity of some friends. It was hands down the most relaxing time our family has ever spent together. Books and cuddles on the porch. Swimming and learning to kayak. (Long live the South and your warm-enough-to-swim Octobers!) Headlamps and nighttime explorations. And an adult coloring book that soothed everyone from ages 3 to grown up.

I was reminded how much I need breathing room, especially in this ugly political season. And how intentional we must be sometimes to create that space in our busy, noisy day-to-day.

And when it comes to politics and all the hatefulness that has been expressed, I need to stop licking the fireball.

To be clear, I'm not advocating burying one's head in the sand. I value democracy, and I think we should seek to become informed voters. But I will admit that much of what I read on the Internet (or God forbid, the comments section) goes beyond what I need to know to vote. It's a slippery rabbit hole. And some of it was never intended to inform anyway.

Whatever is cluttering your mind and heart these days - whether the election or something else - consider ways you may be inviting that spicy burn over and over when you really don't need to. We cannot avoid our individual problems or our societal challenges, but we can acknowledge when we need space to disconnect from the constant bombarding of that which pains us.

And as far as the next month is concerned, may we be intentional about stepping back when we need to. May we guard our hearts and pay attention to what is flowing from them (Proverbs 4:23). And may we offer prayers - not for our political agendas to be achieved - but for how we may act and engage in a world that has revealed how much it is hurting.

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