I’ve noticed something rather ugly things coming out of me lately. It seems to be getting worse. It’s gotten glaring enough that even I can’t deny that there’s *something* going on…but unfortunately, I’ve not known exactly what, or what to do about it.
No, they aren’t physical…like warts or anything.
They are emotional, and they are spiritual. They are my responses to people and situations in my life. And they come from someplace deep inside.
It’s like sometimes I can step back, away from myself, and watch. I watch my own words, interactions, and responses. And I think…
“Whoa. Step away from that girl! She is full on scary-crazy.”
(And, I confess, I edited down what I really thought…because I know that a certain variety of words might offend some of my more delicate readers…but let’s just say what I really though about my brand of ‘crazy’ involved bat-poo.)
I witness my own actions and wonder what on earth is going on with me. I know the emotions I feel…but I don’t actually *know* them. I should say, I feel them…I experience them…but I still have wondered what they are.
Over the years, my ‘crazy’ has surfaced in a variety of settings. My marriage, my church leadership, my parenting. Even my friendships. I get very prickly, and mouthy. I can feel my heart race, my blood rushing, and I feel panicky. I slam gears into defensive mode.
The intensity of these types of reactions has ebbed and flowed. It used to be a lot worse; I dealt with some issues that seemed to be underlying, and in many ways it got better.
But seasons are always changing, my friends. And with new seasons come new situations. Things we never experienced before. New emotions surface. Sometimes the reactions happen before I am even able to identify what on earth is going on.
It seems I’m currently in a season with lots of ‘triggers’… Depending on who you ask, living with me, I’m guessing, might feel a bit like a leisurely stroll through a field of landmines. It seems I can go from ‘pleasant’ to ‘bring-it, sucka’ in about 2.5 seconds.
My, *ahem*, ‘overreactions’ have been pointed out to me on enough occasions that even I could no longer deny it’s probably time to look a little deeper at what’s going on.
Some friends/mentors of mine suggested some prayer exercises they’ve done, and while I will admit, it is VERY difficult for me to actually get very quiet, still and focus…I am finding them to be helpful. So I decided to share them, in a brief, general overview, with you.
Now, please…if you are from a more conservative tradition, please take a moment to breath, not freak out thinking I’m talking about anything new age here, or going off into any heresies. What I’m talking about is actually quite biblical. So just stick with me.
The idea is to calm yourself completely, and allow yourself to become aware of what is going on…what is REALLY going on inside you. Since there are certain situations I know I’m specifically struggling with, I chose to focus on those. I tried to get past all the ‘facts’ of the situation, and allow myself to look at what my actual feelings are. What am I actually experiencing that is causing my reactions? I asked God to reveal my own heart to me, my own motives, and shine the light of His Truth into places that I might be unaware of.
When I did this, I was rather surprised at what I found. Where I could see myself reacting, thinking it was because of ‘this’ or ‘that’…because so-and-so did such-and-such…it turned out that, when it really came down to the bottom line, I could see my reactions were out of two things. Fear and confusion.
Because of the nature of the situations, I can’t share the specifics, but let me just say, I wouldn’t have readily thought myself afraid or confused. Annoyed, yes. Hurt, yes. Angry…definitely. But as I asked God to reveal the Truth to me, I was able to get beyond those surface reactions and see more deeply into the ‘why’ of what was taking place in my heart.
Next, the general idea is to invite and welcome the Holy Spirit into those places…the places where I now understood were driven by fear and confusion. The situations where I find myself in an automatic reaction before I have time to give a thought to what’s happening. It’s choosing to acknowledge the real and vital work of the Holy Spirit in my life, and opening myself up and welcoming Him to the places that I’ve walled off, kept as untouchable, or hidden…even from myself. To see what is really going on and understand it to be a thing that might even be beyond my own changing…but in need of God’s transforming touch.
Let me say, as I felt the reality of my own fear and confusion in these situations, this next step was no small thing. Self-protection is instinct, and I don’t know about you, but it’s a strong one in me.
This particularly hard part is one of surrender. It’s choosing to say, from a place of honesty within my spirit…
“I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for approval, esteem, and affection.
I let go of my desire for security and survival.
I let go of my desire to change the situation.”
It’s another step in giving Jesus true lordship in my life. It’s good and healthy.
And phenomenally hard.
To be completely honest…I still haven’t gotten through this step yet. I get hung up here. I’m scared to say, in all sincerity, that I am ready or willing to let go of some of those. I want to say it…but I know, I’m just not meaning it yet.
But you know what…thankfully, Jesus is willing to walk with me. I can tell He’s very gently prying my squeezed little fist open from clinging to these things. When I get all the way up to this step in my prayers…I cry a little, and say,
“I just don’t think I can mean it yet, Jesus.”
And He says…
“It’s okay…I’ll wait here with you.”
You see, He’s not in a rush. He’s in this journey with me for the long-haul. He doesn’t want my lip-service to the things I know I should say or do or think. He wants my sincere heart. All of it. And He’s gentle enough, and patient enough, and long-suffering enough to hang with me for the whole process of giving it to him. You know how I know this? Because His Word tells me what love is…
Love is patient and kind….rejoices whenever truth wins out… Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. - from 1 Cor. 13
And it also tells me that He Himself IS love, so it stands to reason that He is the embodiment of these things, and displays them toward me. I don’t need to be afraid of Him, or afraid He will abandon me in my struggles…because He said He won’t.
I’m a work in process. It’s an ongoing, albeit sometimes slow, process…but He’s working on me. And in me. And He’s helping me see and walk through the things I just can’t on my own.
Because He’s good like that.
In the meantime, when my landmines get stepped on, I can at least see now what is at play. I can take a breath, and whisper to Jesus that I need His help. And each time that I do that, I can tell I’m at least a little closer to fully surrendering this part of me to Him.
And growth, even when it’s in the fragile, budding stages, just like the springtime flowers and trees just starting to sprout…feels refreshing to my very soul.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch the rebirth of life out my window, and know that the same is happening in my heart.