Some days seem to go by with me hitting a bump in the road now and again...nothing too much out of the ordinary, but other days aren't so good. Those leave me with an icky feeling. Instead of hitting the bumps in the road I'm more or less wading through the ditch along side it. The ditch is full of dark brackish water and mud, trash from passing motorists, brambles, rotting leaves and probably creepy things like snakes. In that ditch is everything that you can see from your car window, but usually overlook when your gaze travels on to seek prettier scenery. But when you're in that ditch you can't exactly look over all that stuff...or try and pretend it doesn't make you feel the way it does. Because when you get mired down in all of life's difficult times, you feel like you're gonna be sinking in that ditch forever and you're just waiting on something to bite you.
When I'm standing in the ditch it gives me a strange foreign feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's a worrying ache that gnaws at me. The gnawing makes me feel as though I don't fit so well in my own skin. I also experience jitters-like the kind you get when you get jacked up on too much caffeine and sugar and you can't stop shaking. Then, for some darn reason I end up getting all reflective and self-absorbed. I question everything that has ever happened in my life and everything that might happen in the rest of it. In some ways I guess I get all hypochondriatic (is that even a word?). I wonder and worry about every pain or passing feeling and I try to read into each one much more. What if something is really wrong? What should I do? Oh crap-this feeling really stinks. When is that snake gonna strike?
I remember feeling this way when I was younger and trying to explain it to my Mom. I think this is probably the same thing that happens when my own daughter comes to me and says, "Mom, I feel weird". As a parent I feel sort of helpless as I try to reassure her that it's perfectly normal to feel weird now and again. Feeling weird is yet one more part of life. But I can secretly admit that the feeling is hard to ignore.
When I was younger I would do my best to take on the weight of the world. I remember my Mom trying to reassure me that everything was going to be alright. I would work myself up into quite a frenzy and before I knew it, the frenzy would win. Can you say 'Panic Attack'? Not a good feeling. But Mom was there to remind me that even when things are feeling weird and we feel out of sorts, we need to remind ourselves that we aren't really the ones in charge. She reminded me that what's going to happen, is going to happen. That we should trust in God and that he knows what is right for us-even if we're clueless. Mom suggested I recite bible verses and so that's what I did. John 3:16 and other ones that we were taught at Sunday school. And each night when I fought back a panic attack, I'd arm myself with one of those verses and use it as a shield. I took comfort in those verses then and now. I let the feelings brought on by those verses permeate me. Flood me and fill me with a peace like none other. True, those verses don't really get to the root of the problem, but they empower me with courage-both then and now.
So the next time you find yourself standing in that ditch, trembling, alone, afraid and close to tears, just remember that there can be no courage without fear. And that someone much greater than us is gonna handle it all anyway. Look around you, find a loved one and get a hug. Hold someones hand, sing a little hymn and let that peaceful feeling fill you. Pretty soon you'll be back in the car and you won't see the stuff in the ditch so much. And that's when you can look at all that pretty scenery and enjoy your life again.