Good morning, New Women. A writer should never admit this, but I don‘t have the words to describe how good it is to be home after two back-to-back trips. The only ones I can come up with are peace, puppies and my own hot chocolate. And, of course, you. I’m home for ten days and in those ten days, I’m with BULLETSOUL who said, “I’m really ready for it to be okay.”
That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about, right? The W-word that keeps us shaking and crying and digging our fingernails into our palms, or lying awake with the problems whirling in our heads. In last Monday’s post I suggested some things that work for me when the jaw starts to torque. You added music to the mix and I totally agree. I have Taize on my playlist that pretty much soothes the savage Worry Beast.
Okay, so that works for the stuff that piles up unnecessarily. The junk we stress over that, when you get right down to it, doesn’t matter all that much.
But what about the life-things that really do matter? The stuff that, it makes no difference how much Christian music we pipe in through our headphones we can’t just forget. BULLETSOUL gave us a list of current problems that would definitely have me reaching for the Pepto Bismol. In response to Melody’s guest post, TISHI bravely shared her desperate struggle with anorexia and self-harm and the fear that she isn’t worthy of God. IRELAND is startled by her own unexplained anger. EMILEE is coming back from a broken back and the pain of depression and, like so many of us, anorexia. CAITLIN, too, wrestles with depression. KATE is starting college soon and wants to “Rip her hair out, purge, jump off a cliff, and yank on her eyelashes, all at the same time.”
You can’t just take a bike ride and make that kind of thing go away. You’re “really ready for it to be okay,” but it just plain isn’t and you can’t seem to find a way to fix it. Just putting on your game face – like Maeryn’s pictured above, which she wears when she has to do something hard like take swimming lessons or get a shot – doesn’t do it. The worry turns to despair and you can’t sing, run or breathe it away.
I know the feeling all too well.
So what do we do?
Since I DO know the feeling – right this very minute in an extended family situation – I can offer some suggestions that are keeping me from not-eating, burying myself in work and alphabetizing the spices (my family knows something is buried in me when the cinnamon is between the caraway seeds and the cumin).
1. Don’t go to prayer as a last resort. Make it a first resort. You’ve probably heard people say, “All we can do now is pray.” Actually, the prayer needs to happen right at the beginning. Something along the lines of, “I am absolutely clueless, God. No idea what to do, and I’m freaking out here. Pleasepleasepleaseplease – helphelphelphelp.” Doesn’t matter whether you feel worthy of God – or you haven’t been chatting it up with God lately – or you’re not even sure there is a god. Just do it. Right away and then as often as you think of it.
2. Read Daniel 12:8-13. I’ll be straight-up with you: the book of Daniel isn’t my favorite, mostly because I don’t understand what’s going on half the time. But I do get the ending. After God has given the prophecy to Daniel about what’s going to happen to the world, Daniel basically says, “What do you want me to do with this, God?” God’s answer:
“You, go your way and rest.”
“It’s out of your hands, Daniel,” God’s saying. “I got this. You … rest in me.”
3. And we do that how? Here’s an exercise I like, and I think you might too. Again it isn’t going to make mountain-high problems go away, but it can help you realize they’re ant hills for a God who really does have it handled:
· Choose something you’re struggling with emotionally, something you can’t exercise out of existence or fix. Pick the biggest problem in your life right now.
· Do some kind of visual representation of it on paper. Draw or paint the situation or just use colors or symbols that say, “Yeah, that’s it. That’s what I’m dealing with.” The point isn’t to be artistic. The point is to get the images out of your head and onto the page.
· Find a place (preferably in your room) with a shelf or surface you can’t easily reach – your closet shelf, the top of a high dresser, the highest shelf on the bookcase.
· When you have some quiet time, position yourself so you can reach that place and as you pray, “God, I’m giving this to you,” tuck your picture away there. Stay until you get at least a faint sense that it’s out of your hands and in God’s.
4. I’m not telling you that you will immediately experience this huge sense of relief and go, “Wow, why was I even stressing over that?” I’m just saying it’s a start. Every time that thing tries to overwhelm you again, you have a visual of it being out of your reach and in God’s. Instead of climbing up there to retrieve it, you can say, “What DO you want me to do with this God?” and recall these words: “You, go your way and rest.”
Rest your body.
Rest your mind.
Rest your spirit.
God’s got this.
If you want to comment on this post, tell us what you pictured – and of course if you want take a digital photo and email it to me and I’ll post it Thursday. Tell us where you’ve put it. And by all means, if this exercise seems totally ridiculous and you don’t see the point, tell us that too. This is an honest place, a free place. Your doubts are welcome here.
‘Til then –