It’s just been one of those weeks. You don’t even want to hit ‘rewind’ & do it over again but instead just want to ‘select all’ & ‘delete.’ My family has experienced great loss and those closest to me have witnessed firsthand the tragic end of life and gain of heaven. Disheartening news of sickness seems to be lurking all around and even a glimpse of the latest headlines is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed with a sense of dread. It’s upsetting, depressing and just plain sad.
It’s interesting how everyone responds so differently to these emotions. Some run to it, some run from it. Some get sad, some get angry. Some run to food, some run to drugs. Some ignore it completely while others find themselves unable to think of anything else. We all have futile attempts to self-medicate and regardless of how those attempts materialize, rarely do they have much effect besides delaying the inevitable—actually dealing with what we’re feeling.
Historically, that “pit of your stomach pain” would make me run in the opposite direction, resorting to humor, hoping to avoid it all together. Fortunately, I’ve now realized the short term benefits of that method are just that—short term—and it’s my best interest and in the best interest of those around me if I just go ahead and embrace whatever it is I’m dealing with. This week, when these unwelcome emotions seem to be looming, I’m reminding myself of three things:
1. Take a break.
Emotions run high when trauma comes and whether you’re on the top or bottom of the spectrum, trying to do much of anything in that state is pretty pointless. Unfortunately, I have been the poster child for emotional decision making and let me assure you…it’s a bad idea. Sometimes, all we need is to take. a. break.. Maybe it’s taking some time and going on a walk, hitting up the mall, or vegging out in front of Netflix for a few hours. While this numbing behavior is probably not advocated by most professionals, it does seem to bring me back down to an equilibrium where I can think or talk or whatever I need to do without crying or being irrational.
2. Pray. If you can’t pray, worship.
In moments when I’m thinking things I shouldn’t think and worried about things I shouldn’t be worried about, I know that I just need to get with Jesus…but sometimes, the thought is just exhausting. I don’t want to have to cry any more or process anything…I just want to be. Unfortunately, I so often forget that that is exactly how Jesus wants me to come to him, raw, messy and as unputtogether as I might feel. I don’t have to go through some grooming process in order to meet with Him. When we go to Him, we are to be with Him. That’s it. Prayer is great, reading the word is great…but it’s HIM I am after, and it is His presence that brings me peace in the midst of pain.
The reality is that sometimes I just don’t have words to express what my heart is feeling. I just don’t. The only thing I know to do is get in the presence of God and worship. When I know nothing, I know that He is worthy of my praise and sometimes, that’s all I can bring myself to give. And thankfully, that’s often all that is needed to begin to break the chains of whatever it is that is weighing me down. His presence comes and slowly, I feel my flesh begin to calm & my spirit begin to rise…the lies become whispers and the promises of God begin to radiate in my heart and mind and eventually, freedom comes…through no work of my own but through the pure goodness and grace of Jesus.
3. Deal with it.
I’ve been around a lot of believers who might say that when we feel pain or sadness or even fear that we should immediately reject that feeling, acknowledging it’s lack of power in our lives. While I understand and to some degree, completely agree, I don’t think that this method alone assures freedom.
A few months ago we (my family & I) began to notice one of our neighbors was constantly weeding her grass…I mean, constantly. Like, every day. One day I was out walking with Lilian and decided to meander over to say hello & figure out what the heck she was doing. She said they had just spent thousands of dollars on new sod for their yard and because they had planted so late in the year, they couldn’t use the normal weed killer on it…so she was weeding by hand. I expressed my sympathy for her trouble and suggested she hire the neighborhood kids and pay them a dime a weed–I mean, they could make some big bucks! Anyway, we shared a laugh and then she said something interesting. She said that the process had become somewhat therapeutic for her but the worst part was that she couldn’t wear gloves. She said that if she wore gloves, she could only rip off the top of the weed. She had to use her fingers to dig down into the ground to pull it up from the root to make sure that particular weed didn’t grow back. Consequently, her fingers were all battered and torn.
I thought about this today when I started meditating on this post and and how I tend to process my pain. My fleshly instinct is to put on my “gloves” to avoid getting too dirty and just rip it out. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t do the job…and neither does just casting off an ungodly belief. While the practice of acknowledging ungodly & godly beliefs is a great key for living in freedom, there’s got to be more. If we don’t stop to find the reason for those thoughts, they will simply resurface as something else…after all, doesn’t every fear & anxiety & lie from the enemy reveal a deeper heart issue? When I have moments of fear that I will die young and leave behind my daughter and husband to fend for themselves, it’s way more than just a fleeting thought…there’s something in my heart that hasn’t fully acknowledged the ability and desires of the Father to sufficiently care for me. And moments of insecurity and jealousy aren’t just about insecurity & jealousy–it’s about me not understanding that the Father’s love for me is all that matters. And my most regular issue–thinking that maybe, just maybe, I haven’t done enough to earn my healing–is not about healing at all. It’s about Jesus and the revelation that all he was and all he is is completely enough for anything that I have ever faced or will ever face again…including cancer!
Unfortunately, being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from pain. In fact, knowing Jesus and what He desires for the us in this world only seems to make the dark darker. However, we must rest in the hope of eternal life with Jesus and remain steadfast in the pursuit of who He is. He is always good, always faithful & always, always, always ready to meet us exactly where we are. And with the week my family has had, that’s the best news I’ve heard all week!