Thursday, May 13, 2010
More ponderings on the little foxes
Recently I recognized old symptoms of stress, those which I have known for as long as I cam remember... the tightness in my chest, feeling as the weight of the world is on my shoulders (literally), reminding myself to breath deeper.
This time it is not really the "big stuff" as those experiencing floods in Nashville, the Gulf oil spill, or the tornadoes "out west" (although that weather system is heading directly for us). Instead it was a burden brought about by health of family members, finances, and even small events like seeing three e-mails from my husband's sister in the Inbox in one day.
There are parts of my life for which I have some control. The aforementioned sister-in-law is only a blip on my radar, someone I can keep at arm's length. She has always been one of those difficult people every family has but in the past couple of years, her Asperger symptoms have gone from irritation to violent outbursts. Her brothers are dealing with her but the rest of us are keeping a distance (for our own safety).
Sometimes we can't put our finger on what is bothering us... just an unsettled spirit which causes even the smallest of trials to seem huge. There have been days my unsettled spirit was just a call to pray for someone else. Other seasons of unsettling are those I never realize the reason... I just pray. These past few days have been a combination of "lots of little things".
It was late in the day when we realized my husband had made an error which brought about numerous overdraft charges in our bank account. The financial setback was bad enough but the realization that this was caused by his mental confusion was quite frightening. This has been an area of strength for him and it is the second instance of such confusion in the past couple of months.
It was this increase in confusion that brought about his being accepted for Disability. A lifetime of severe environmental allergies brought about the bipolar symptoms... at first apparent only when the allergens would attack... as he grew older the symptoms stayed longer until they were permanent. Bipolar Disorder is a huge umbrella whose symptoms are caused by many different physical and mental illnesses.
Not all stress is caused by that which is not welcome. We are switching from school year mode to "that time between regular classes and summer school" which has a lot of unknowns as to scheduling. Christopher has not started his summer class or heard from the professor for whom he is to do research (unpaid but necessary for future internships). Most likely she is at a conference.
None of the above is life threatening or life changing. However, I have found in the past it is at times easier to handle the big stuff rather than the little foxes. I believe there is not only adrenaline kicking in but often a gift of faith and grace which helps us to transcend the great trials. (I kept telling Stephanie during their housing sale and move that she will look back when it is all over and everything unpacked and wonder how they did it. :)
Perhaps it is also our expectations... we know when going through the "big stuff" that we will feel times of stress and tension. Such emotions can confuse us and perhaps even embarrass us when the little foxes are nipping away at our ankles. I mean, really... there are people in the world who are experiencing great suffering and I let something small bring me down? Yes... and it's okay.
So why share the bad times as well as the good? I get e-mails all the time from people who are surprised that I share the hard times. However, I believe my own trials have a use when I can help others get through their trials. It is natural to FEEL that sudden surge of panic. It is quite human to FEEL the burden on one's shoulders and the shortness of breath, even when life's challenges are on the small side of the scale.
The difference for people of faith is this... that peace which passes all understanding. I have learned to... as these symptoms settle on me... run to the Rock. Sometimes I find relief by reading through Psalms and pouring out my trials and fears. Quite often I'll find just the right book to pull off my shelf... either to read for the first time or a welcome re-read.
There are days I need to separate myself from my usual surroundings and take Bible, book, pen, and notebook to a favorite coffee shop... one which has unlimited refills for a small cup (switching to decaf quickly).
In warm weather, I may head for the park near the neighborhood my mother and brother lived. Neither are with us, anymore... but watching the ducks and swans softly swim in the pond and walking the path where beautiful flowers have been planted... God's World of Nature... brings peace.
"Peace that passes understanding... not as the world gives peace"... that peace which is a Gift and has nothing to do with our circumstances but everything to do with His Presence... the Prince of Peace. That is why the world does not understand as we breath deeply and smile and realize the burden is lifted... even though the circumstances remain.
Quite often I can't understand it, either... but I'm thankful for it. And... there is always the live-in source of humor and fun...
Posted by Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks at 10:20 AM