Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Peace Be Understanding

There was a link on the New Scientist Web site yesterday to an article describing research that shows a relationship between stress, disturbed sleep patterns, and worker burnout. The upshot of the article is that stress itself doesn't cause problems, but it does cause sleep problems, and those problems lead to the burnout.

I'm pretty well burnt out. Not with work, but with life. I've been under stress for my whole life, but I didn't connect that with the fact that I usually don't get very good sleep. I wake up frequently, thrash around, but have compensated by going to bed early and just expecting it. Most of the time I collect enough sleep in bits and pieces to keep on going.

The process of God-change I've been living through the last year has been even more stressful. Facing the end of life as I know it and having to depend upon Someone I don't know very well just give me conniptions. I want to run and hide but I can't because that would put me back where I was last year.

Confidence is for strong people. Weak people, such as I am, hide or find other ways to be unnoticed so that they can survive. Bottom-feeding, coming out only after dark, stealing through the shadows silently. I always fear detection so the sensors are turned up to max, and I jump at the slightest sound or sign of impending trouble. It's best to avoid it altogether, but if trouble comes, it's best to deal with it before it gets big. I've lived all of my life being safe by practicing prediction and triage.

I'm disgusted with myself. On the other hand, I'm still here, and I have another chance. Many people lose, by working to fit in with society, even more than I threw away.

What would happen if I had a very strong protector? What would life be like if I didn't have to worry every second about what might happen if I make a mistake? What expansion of capability might happen, what enrichment of life might come from being able to associate with people in confidence instead of fear? How would my life change if someone cared enough about me to teach me better ways, and would help me learn, and would hold me when it gets to be too much?

A dream, you say. Impossible, you say. Not even self-respecting, because such a situation would make me even weaker than I am now.

Well, how do you know? Have you tried? Have I tried?

Yes, I have. I am. It took the approaching end of my life to make me look for a living alternative. First, God introduced me to Himself and His most wonderful Son. Then He introduced me to the Holy Spirit, and that's when the fireworks started. How could I be confident in my life when the Holy Spirit was doing His best to take it apart? Then I realized that I could have confidence in what He was doing, except that was still frightening; yes, He would do what He promised, but is that what I wanted?

It had to be. I'd tried everything else and found only dead ends. I either lived God's way or died.

Changes have continued. God is touching areas of my life that have been a part of the background for so long that I just thought they were normal. Such as bad sleep patterns and constant fear.

God does what He promises to do. Prophets told of the Cross and then He sent His Son to fulfill that prophecy. After that He sent the Holy Spirit to us to fulfill more promises. The big question then is whether I trust that what God promises to do in my life is better than what I can do. I can always tell when I'm not trusting Him because I become even more irritable than normal. When I trust Him life may be smooth, or it may not, but I face the whole thing with something I'm not very familiar with: confidence.

I can't do it. Not at all. That's the most wonderful news I've heard. Well, not the most wonderful, because the most wonderful news is that God will help me. Aslan's strong legs on each side, as Paula so memorably wrote. Holding Jesus' hand, and walking forward, scared, but knowing Him. This is finally beginning to sink in, with the result that I feel something very strange. A lack of the tension that has been constant in me for as long as I can remember, and a sort of head-up, face-forward approach to the future. The submarine surfaces, the mole pokes his head up out of the ground and, with new vision, sees that while the world is no less dangerous, he is no longer required to do everything all by himself. He might just be able to live on the surface.

Last year, sometime in the late fall, I was walking on the beach and was suddenly wondered what life would be like if I could relax and quit having to devote so much energy to self-defense. Then I got embroiled in various arguments with God and became even more antsy, but now we've reached an accommodation. He's right, I'm wrong, I'll do it His way.

Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching me about Yourself. Thank you for your patience and kindness. Your way of life is very strange and it takes a lot for me to be able to trust you, but You have very tenderly guided me to your truth. Please help me to remain sensitive to your guiding, and thank you for giving me your strength so that I am able to be sensitive. And thank you for holding onto me so that I could be alive to learn to live with confidence in you. I'm no tiger, but you are.

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