Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Look and I Listen

Several years ago during a particularly unnerving time in our lives, I was filled with fear and anxiety.  In my opinion, I hid my emotions well. 
Those around me may have thought...not so much.
Honestly, I don't know what people thought.
I tried to not allow myself to give in to the paralyzing thoughts that ripped through me with every breath.
Still they were there, consuming me.
I felt fear in the unknown.
The whirlpool of doubt and uncertainty tugged at me to pull me to an abyss of despair.
I could not allow myself to give in.
If I gave in (whatever that meant) where would it take me?
I knew that for no one is the future certain.
This "no one" included me.
All we can truly know is this very moment and this breath.
We've talked to our kids about choices having consequences.
The good choices have consequences.
The bad choices have consequences.
Then there are the situations in life where life just happens, the good and the bad all lumped together, and we can learn and grow from it, if we (once again) choose too.
We can choose to squander what we have been given or embrace our circumstances and seek good that can come from them.
And so in spite of all this "knowing", there I was, held captive by my own emotions.
As is customary for me, I would quote scripture, read scripture, write scripture on my hand, and do everything I possibly could to stand firm.
On one particularly dark night, this question formed deep within my psyche. 
 "Do you truly believe what you say you believe, that the Lord is YOUR Shepherd?"
"Hhmm." I pondered this.
"Shepherd? What's a shepherd?" I ask myself, though I knew.
According to the dictionary, a shepherd is a person who herds, tends and guards sheep. 
One who protects, guides or watches over a person or group of people.
Long before I was born, my parents had a large sheep herding business.  It was part of their farming operation. Though I wasn't around to witness it, I heard many stories of the things they did to care for their sheep.  (You can read one of those stories here, if you are interested.) So I realized that the shepherd spares no expense of time, effort or money to care for each tiny fluffy creature. If there is danger, the shepherd protects.  If there is lack of provision, the shepherd provides.  If there is evil, the shepherd intervenes.  The sheep run back to the shepherd.  They stay close to the shepherd. They listen to the shepherd.
My quiet ponderings, wrestling with my knowledge, reaffirmed that  I must continue to embrace what I knew in my head until it reached my heart. 
 I realized that my trust and faith in MY Shepherd had to be stronger than my emotions of fear and uncertainty. 
When I felt myself begin to unravel, I realized that I had taken my eyes and thoughts of the Provider and Protector and had put them on myself and my circumstances.
And if I am truly honest here, the circumstances all those years ago, that dredged up these emotions...
yep, those...
those circumstances STILL exist.
All these years later they haven't changed.
Sometimes actually if I allow myself to look, speaking from a human perspective, I would say the situation looks more bleak.
I am changed though.
The way I deal with it has changed too.
 I don't look at the circumstances or the situation.
It takes practice and discipline not to take just a little peek here and there.
  But I know where looking will take me.
Sometimes it is hard to see past "them" to HIM.
But I strain my eyes and look.
I listen.
I look at the Shepherd.
I stay close to the Shepherd.
My provider.
My protector.
How do you deal with fear and anxiety?

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I, too, like to remind myself of the TRUTH of God so it can replace the feelings and emotions that threaten to undo me. Love you!