I never loved the phrase “take your medicine”. We saw it in a movie recently where a character was suggesting the group had to come face-to-face with an adversary that had just beat them.
As a kid, like many kids, “medicine” had an extremely negative connotation. I can still taste the aftereffects of grape Dimetapp whenever I hear the word “medicine” said out loud.
The pop culture colloquialism “take your medicine” basically means “face your consequences”. And it is something we don’t love to do.
Why We Have To
Just like myself as a child, our first instinct is to avoid. I might have sold any number of treasures along the way to avoid that grape Dimetapp.
As adults, some things are easier to avoid than when we were kids. I don’t ever have to take cough medicine, for example, if I don’t want to. But I think we take this idea too far. We think that because I can escape one specific manifestation, it means I am “free” of those challenging consequences. But this is not really how freedom works.
When I was a kid, my parents would find me hiding under a bed or behind the clothes in my closet. And in went the Dimetapp.
In the same way, we cannot really avoid consequences. We have to face them. Adults may have more options but they cannot get out of it altogether. I can choose to take my cough medicine or endure an illness. There are consequences either way.
And so, we have to take our medicine. The only difference is we get a little bit of wiggle room surrounding what form the medicine takes. I say a little. The truth is we don’t have much.
The Good It Does
The more time I spend as an adult, the more I realize that one of the great markers between maturity and immaturity is how courageously we take our medicine. How boldly we face our consequences.
The truth-centered adult owns mistakes, makes decisions, and moves forward, using consequences and boundaries as a way to learn, grow, and progress. An immature adult tries all manners of ways to avoid consequences but never seems to outrun them. Like me as a child, they hide under the bed. They toss clothes over their heads and pretend the world is a dark abyss.
Consequences linger the more we try to avoid them. Just like an illness, not taking our medicine with courage causes the effects to last longer and do more damage.
The disturbing trend in modern society is to twist reality so we do not have to face what is uncomfortable. We have created structures to avoid consequences at all costs. And the cost of doing so is a pervasive lack of truth, learning, and progress.
Only by taking our medicine with courage and humility can we turn the tide.