Ambushed. . .

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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.

Early morning darkness…..

pexels-photo-813269.jpegI often awaken in the very early morning hours. As the darkness tries unsuccessfully to lull me back to sleep, I find another kind of darkness overwhelming me–the darkness of worry. My mind races from one worry to another–family, finances, approaching retirement, success or failure as a writer. Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, for today has enough for us to bear. I get that. But, I’m still a worrier.

My early morning reading has been in the book of Hebrews for the past several days. Yesterday I read the chapter listing the heroes of faith. Today I read the chapter on discipline. How much of my worry might have been avoided if I had made better decisions in the past? Are some of my troubles God’s way of getting my attention focused back on Him?

My husband says I am a really busy person. He’s right. And, a lot of my busy-ness involves activities at church. But how much of me is just busy and not truly obedient to and focused on God?Am I going through the motions without true spiritual investment?  It’s something to think about.

I just know that every day I pray for relief from the constant worry. I pray for the discipline and strength to turn off the negative thoughts. Some of you may share my tendency to ruminate over past decisions and anticipate future misfortunes and just generally worry. Be assured that you’re not alone in the struggle. This passage in Jeremiah is one of my favorites.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you, Lord. I needed that.

 

A new perspective. . . . .

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A few blogs ago my writing was full of angst as I talked about feeling like I was, figuratively, at the “end of my rope”. I wrote about a good friend’s advice that one should just “tie and knot and hang on” when finding oneself in that predicament. However, as I read from my favorite devotional Daily Strength for Daily Needs (compiled by Mary Tileston with original copyright 1997), I came across a sentence that changed my perspective.

Let us fall into the hand of the Lord. Amen.

Suddenly I could imagine letting go of that knot and drifting into the strong yet gentle hand of God as I fell. Is that not where we all need to be? Letting go of the need to control current events. Letting go of the worry about what might go wrong in the future. Letting go of the perceived need to be all things to all people. Letting go of the desire for the unattainable–perfection in this life.

And, instead of holding on for dear life as that rope burns our hands and our sweaty palms begin to slip, just trusting that our Lord and Savior is there to catch us as we fall, and letting go. He is, after all, our Savior.

The psalmist wrote about God’s hand:

Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. Psalm 31:5

and

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God. My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. Psalm 31:14-16

And Peter spoke in the New Testament about “letting go and letting God”, when he wrote:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

For several years I had this message posted on my refrigerator:

Good morning. This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help. Have a nice day.

I think I need to post it there again, to remind me that the rope of my life with all its difficulties and dilemmas and perceived disasters is poised right over God’s hand. I may just need to let go of that knot and rest in God’s strong, gentle, loving, open hand.

Thank you, Lord, for this reminder. I pray that it may speak to another’s heart. Amen.

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