Recently I visited the subject of grief with a description of being “ambushed” by the emotion. The terminology did not originate with me, but was adopted by Daniel’s dear widow, now my true daughter in spirit, as she has dealt with his death. A friend then commented on the post with the observation that, although she had never heard the term used as a descriptor of grief attacks, she thought it could apply to attacks of anxiety. And I began to think. . .
There are many emotional “ambushes” that occur in our lives. The attacks come from a concealed position and strike with surprise (see definition number 3 above), usually, but not always, from an enemy of our emotional equilibrium. Some examples:
- Grief. The most benign memory, the most ordinary event, can precipitate the sudden recollection of loss. A photograph, the sight and sound of an ambulance, the smell of a hospital corridor, the sight of the loved one’s handwriting or craft–all can be the stimulus that brings a wave of fresh grief to our awareness. And we feel truly “ambushed” by the surprise attack which often comes from the “concealed position” of a truly innocent occurrence.
- Anxiety. My friend’s observation regarding anxiety led me to think that a fresh definition of panic attack might be an “ambush” of anxiety, accompanied by the physiological components of the stress response. Performance anxiety can “ambush” us when taking a test or speaking in public. It can be especially problematic when being evaluated in the performance of a physical skill. (I am remembering nursing skill labs!) A good friend says that stress is a reminder that we are still alive. But sometimes I become so stressed with worry about the outcome of a situation or even imagined or dreaded future events that anxiety almost overwhelms me. What about you?
- Depression. I think one can be “ambushed” by full-fledged depression when vague emotions of sadness or discouragement or futility or fatigue suddenly morph into the overwhelming dark hopelessness of depression. We wonder where it came from, how it got there, and what to do. In the best case scenarios, we have a support network of family, friends, and, if needed, professionals who can rescue us from the enemy that has taken us by surprise.
- Anger. It may be a sense of righteous indignation. Or it may come from a real or perceived personal attack, insult, or oversight. If anger truly ambushes me, it is the most frustrating of situations, because attempts to express it often result in tears, and I lose all ability to communicate in a logical and articulate way. So then I am angry with myself!
But what about more positive emotions that surprise us from some concealed place within our hearts? Like—
- Faith. My walk of faith can wax and wane. The times when it grows weak can “ambush” me with any or all of the above negative emotions. Then, through the invisible cord of God’s love and mercy, I am somehow drawn back into closer communion with my Creator, Savior, and Lord. I begin to once again feel a stabilizing presence in my heart and the certainty that I am here for a purpose, for a higher calling. And this results in an ambush of–
- Joy. Yes, I think we can be “ambushed” by joy. It, too, can be lying in wait for us. It can come at the most unexpected times, times when we are reminded that a higher power is in control and that we are loved. The birth of a child, precious moments spent with family or friends, corporate worship (especially in music), and the gratification of work well done are a few examples.
I wonder. What emotion is lying in wait “from a concealed position” waiting to strike you “in surprise”? Will you be ready to counter it with the stability that faith offers? Where are you in your walk? Can you identify other emotions waiting to “ambush” us?
I would love to read your thoughts.
4 thoughts on “Ambushed. . .”
My daughter is 15 and has anxiety,panic,depression . this article has give me something to think about and your wonderful daughter has text to check on my baby .makes me stop and think about the pain she has been thru and i see in my child .after losing all 4 grandparents within 18 months ,she tried to comfort her dad and me . then her friend drowned he was 15 , they all talked of his death at school but still she felt fear.In March of this year she lost her step grand father. she has been to the ER 3 times this year. anxiety has overwhelmed her . she has a fear of dying so any symptom she has it sends her into a panic,heart racing, headache,chest pains,dizzy,and her head feels like it will explode. So many do not understand anxiety an how serious it really is so thank you for posting this article and I pray people who has never had anxiety ,might have their eyes open. anxiety is real and cant be fixed over night .and yes we feel ambushed from the anxiety prayers for you and your wonderful daughter and my friend love (SP) Giving GOD all the Praise and Glory
Connie, thank you for sharing. Prayers for your daughter as she battles her anxiety and depression and for you as you love her through these episodes.
THANK YOU FOR PUTTING INFORMATION OUT SO WE CAN READ AND LEARN
I certainly identify with the word ambush in regards to the waves of emotions I have experienced after my daughter attempted suicide. Memories that flood intrusively into my mind from her childhood or brief thoughts of the dreams I have for her capture me. Thank you .
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