The Jonah Complex

I went down a rabbit trail on the internet the other day – as one tends to do – and happened upon something I didn’t have any intent on finding. We all have things come in this kind of parenthood that we can’t explain in any other way – our children are reaching out for us, letting us know they are ok. Letting us know that we are ok. My path took me to a theory about people striving for something but stumbling on their fears. It was called the Jonah Complex. Of course, I bought an entire book for its six-page excerpt that was the only thing I really cared about… also as one tends to do.

We hear so much about people who are afraid of failing. As the thought goes, we become paralyzed by the fear of failing that we never take that first step to change our situation. What’s funny about that theory is that while it applies to so many situations in life, I can’t actually say that I think it applies to my Almost Fatherhood. I’m not afraid of failing them anymore. I don’t even think I could define what failing at this would be, save forgetting them in some way and let’s be honest – that isn’t something we can do. It goes against every cell in our bodies.

What I am, is afraid of succeeding.

The Jonah Complex is about the fear of one’s own greatness and I immediately clung to it. We get so paralyzed by our loss and all of the things come with it, and when we begin to come out of it we want to do something to carry their life and spirit on. We create non-profits in their honor or write books. We fundraise for a cause, create retreats for loss families, and establish doula networks nationwide. We do our part to effect change in the world around us, be it a small support group or something larger. We build furniture and take on races as a way to channel our heartbreak. Greatness in the world of child loss isn’t necessarily about a level of success as it is about finding something you can use to build trust in yourself again and find some peace.

Jonah is challenging me – challenging all of us – to step outside of the walls we’ve built and live a good life in his spirit and in that of all of our children. Maybe you’ve wanted to write a book but it seems like SUCH a daunting task – start it anyway. Maybe you’ve been looking to find a way to stay home with other kids or start a business. Or maybe you just want to get to a place where you can go through the day and smile when you think of them instead of break down.

Take the challenge.

Live your best life, knowing they are cheering you on and want to see you achieve your dreams. It doesn’t have to be a multi-step plan and it doesn’t need to be anything you don’t want it to be. It just has to be something. Fear of failure is real, but a fear of greatness shouldn’t keep you from being a shining beacon of hope for the world.

If you’ve made it this far you’re already powerful. It’s time to take it a step further – do it for them, and do it on purpose.


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