There is a strange phenomenon that occurs during crises. Old, unbidden, unrelated junk gets stirred up in your life and comes barging into the room. It makes itself known right in the middle of your crisis like an unwelcome salesman. A friend of mine likens it to a walk on the beach after a big storm - there is all kinds of junk washed up on the sand for everyone to see. Great. Nature doesn´t escape this phenomenon; we apparently don´t either.
As if a crisis isn't bad enough on it's own! No, it has to go and stir up a bunch of other junk at the bottom of your life. That is really hitting below the belt if you ask me! Cruel. Cold. Heartless. Unnecessary.
No one asked my opinion if I wanted this Plan B growth option. I wasn't invited to vote or write an essay on why I might be against it. No one sent me the Ten Top Reasons why stirring up junk in a crisis is essential. And life is not even picky about the junk! It can be junk, sins, secrets, old habits, blind spots, old skeletons, unresolved issues, patterns, weaknesses - apparently anything goes!
I did not sign up for this. Of course, I didn't sign up for the crisis either...
For me, it is this stirring up of junk that is almost worse than the crisis itself. You expect the crisis to knock you down, sit on your chest and carve out every emotion known to man. But all of that is at least due to a known crisis! It's awful & overwhelming & seemingly interminable. But at least you know why - and deep down you sense that someday you will see light at the end of the tunnel (at least most days you do.)
But this stirring up of junk? Flaunting your weaknesses in the face of pain? It´s like kicking a guy while he´s down! It is so overwhelming & feels so very unfair. Right when you feel defenseless, raw, naked, vulnerable , confused and weak, these old ghosts rise up like half-empty helium balloons, hanging at eye level and just bobbing there. Sometimes they just appear quietly like that and bob. Other times they explode into the room like an unexpected firecracker set off by the neighborhood kids. It bursts onto the scene unexpectedly, uninvited, aggressive & destructive. It always makes my heart skip - and then discouragement is quick to settle in and push me onto a path of dejection & self loathing. The loss of confidence I experience in facing the original crisis is lost and it takes an enormous effort to re-engage and refocus my energies on the original war after this distracting & disarming side-battle.
Why are these old battles so devastating? In part, it´s simply because they are old. They have history with me because they are big things that can take a lifetime to overcome - selfishness, communication patterns, emotional reactions, pride, past hurts revived, difficult relationships, forgiveness, etc. There are not small, easy-fixes. They are complex, deep-rooted & require a lot of emotional, spiritual and relational work. It is when these things appear in the midst of my crisis that I despair because I have no strength to face these giants. Yet they come to me. They seem to be sent to me...they are the real enemies I face. Somehow in my crisis (in my case, a death), I am somewhat of a victim. But these ¨ghosts¨ of mine, they really are mine to face. I might want to play the victim to my past or circumstances or my personality but in the end, I have to own up to my own stuff and deal with it. I have to make choices - to believe truth and to move forward to set healthier patterns in motion. Oh how I need a supernatural strength in these times!
I confess that I have definitely felt that God has taken me beyond ¨what I am able¨ lately. Yet as I look to Him as my Shepherd on this journey of grief, I somehow must accept that He knows the avenues of clean-up and healing necessary at this time. Somehow, they are related. Somehow, they are entangled and pulling one up by the roots may mean victory in several areas. Or maybe it´s about a place I need to get to, a person I need to be, a truth I can understand no other way, a humility or compassion only born of facing junk and giants.
I can´t say that I understand this or like it. But I suppose there is one thing we could all agree upon: God is clearly the original multi-tasker!
Photo by: TW