I’ve been holding on too tightly to my thoughts and trying to control my feelings recently. This always leads me down a path toward distraction and anxiety. I could sit here and think of all the potential reasons that this is happening right now – kids starting a new school and the unknowingness of this big change for our family, for one. Also, I spent a lot of time imagining the future this summer, dreaming of things that could happen. It’s hard to transition back into the real world from the dream world.
When I’m feeling contented, fusing with my thoughts isn’t a problem. In fact, it makes me feel in control. This lasts for some period of time, during which I further retreat into the inner world of my thoughts, otherwise known as “being in my head”. I spend a lot of time thinking about how things should be, what I should eat, when I should exercise, how my children should behave. Notice how many should thoughts are going on?!
A symptom of this pattern includes my being frustrated and angry when things don’t go the way they “should” – according to me. When my son is sad and crying, it’s very inconvenient; we have places to go and must be on time! When my husband has an idea for our Saturday afternoon that doesn’t coincide with mine, I become irritated. I spend a lot of time internally debating what I’m going to eat, since every food has a judgement attached to it. Thank you diabetes.
Eventually, my need for control and “being in my head” combine forces and turn their attention to sleep. I have come to believe that this battlefield in my life is sort of perfect. Sleep is the ultimate surrendering. When I’m struggling to be in control of my emotions, I cannot surrender and trust God. Anxiety flows over me while I’m lying in bed. I am not in control. These emotions are real. I’m struggling with my thoughts and feelings because this is not what should be happening!
Because, I’m obviously the one in-charge, right?
The truth is, this pattern keeps repeating in my life, and is likely to continue.
Why? Because I’m a sinner. I’m prideful. I try to fill the God-sized hole in me with my brilliant thoughts, with collecting new ideas, with figuring it all out on my own. With me.
However, God is stronger and bigger and way more powerful than my thoughts and feelings. He is using this sin to show me my sinfulness and need for Christ. Martin Luther called the second use of the Law, the Mirror: The Law serves as a perfect reflection of what God created the human heart and life to be. It shows anyone who compares his/her life to God’s requirement for perfection that he/she is sinful. When I strive to remain in control and these symptoms start showing up in my life, I imagine myself struggling in God’s loving hands. He’s always there, caring for and sustaining me. But I so often fight and wrestle with myself, instead of surrendering into His embrace.
I’ve been praying about my desire to write a book on my awakening experience, specifically how mindfulness and trusting God work so beautifully together. It’s on my heart to share how embracing growth and not having it all figured out is a much more fulfilling way to live. But, I’ve been struggling to start the writing process. My procrastination is driven by the need to have it all figured out! Oh, the irony. On some level I know that my words will be refined and revised through the writing process. But, when I’m unable to experience the feelings of frustration, fear, and potential failure, I become trapped in this thought pattern: I need to master these lessons before I can write about them.
So, here I am relearning lessons that I want to share with others. Returning to acceptance, commitment, and mindfulness as a daily practice to release control and trust God. I’ve been here before and will likely be here again. I will never master these lessons. I will keep growing, with God’s grace and guidance.