on fighting

Posted: February 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

Recently someone important to me bumped up into a problem that opened up one of my old stories – one I like to revisit from an “I survived” perspective with the certainty of the good outcome that did arrive.  One of my very best war stories, complete with a victory that stuck in the end.  But the story didn’t open on the win – it opened on the uncertain part, where there are no answers and all manner of daunting possibilities presenting themselves with menacing tones.

Because of the nature of that story and the nearness of the one stepping into it, two things happened for me.

First, my mind and emotions more or less refused to process it for awhile.  This is an old unconscious, unintentional survival tactic I used way too much during the end of my first marriage – I can’t afford to dwell on or even FEEL this right now, I’ll just tuck it away and deal with it later – and have since then just not been unable to unlearn it, despite much effort made.  So that’s what I did for a few hours – pushed it under and kept the fear pushed back to where it couldn’t touch me.  Happily, it was only a few hours and not a few days or weeks, which has often been the case.

Then everything in me turned and faced it – and I found myself just not able at all to remain calm and assume everything would be okay.  For a bit, it was all and only worst-case scenarios, in a situation where other, better possibilities were available.  I just couldn’t access them.

Those passages are where I’m especially grateful for every difficult thing I’ve ever come through, in what they have taught me about how to fight through, how to stand, how to survive and not just get crushed under the wheels of the schoolbus of life.

I made a choice to not just retreat into hysterical tears.

I hit up a few key people who I knew would actually pray, and got them on it.  That seemed especially important, since for awhile my only prayer would be all of my fear lifted silently to God without words.

I turned on my very best prayer music, stuff I’ve been leaning on in the desperate moments of life for more than a decade, and got it going on loop.

I shut my mouth, other than to sing along with the music, and made myself busy with the work in front of me, changing what I could and working on letting go of what was not mine to control at all.  I was deliberate in not talking much for the rest of the day really, since I’d surely be tempted to frighten myself further rather than saying deeply faithful words.

I paid careful attention to self-care for the rest of the day.  Enough water to drink.  Eating something good for me.  Getting rest.  Going gently with myself both physically and emotionally, as I would be kind and careful with anyone else who was standing on a brink.

None of that was easy or automatic, and more than once at my desk my thoughts went into the vortex, leaving me struggling not to just fall apart.  But I was stubborn on that front, remembering good scriptures and good God stories from my life to match every unwelcome awful imagination that danced through.  And singing with the prayer music.  A lot.

By the next morning, I was steady once again.  Ready for whatever battle might be ahead.  It is amazing to me, what is possible when I run to God and insist on focusing more on Him than on the storm.

The crisis was mercifully short.  Yesterday some answers came that offer great promise and relief.  That was a possibility all along – it just wasn’t one that I could access for a bit, because my own story had taken a substantially darker turn before getting better.  This morning my heart is light and it’s tempting to take myself to task for the level 10 terror zone.  But I’m not.  I’m cutting myself the same break I’d cut anyone else in my shoes, and I don’t for a moment think that God was dismayed at my struggle.  He knows what I’m made of, and He’s exceedingly tender when we are fragile.

We all get to take turns with these challenges.  At this age, I’m no longer silly enough to think I won’t get more turns at being afraid and overwhelmed.  Today I’m grateful for the tools that help me navigate it, when it rolls back around to me.

And I’m praying for you, that when it’s your turn, you’ll remember how to fight.



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