Psalm 102:6-7 - I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
Whether it be due to chronic pain, illness, emotional pain or loss our pasts will often cast a shadow on our future. Plans. Habits. Time. All affected by our actions and those of others around us.
We’ve been used to doing things the same way and then the train of life crashes and that life will never be the same. Now that accident consumes our days and nights.
“If only,” seems to fly onto the screen of our minds.
But just because our pasts remind us of the train crash, it doesn’t mean that our futures can’t be fulfilling. It’s all about choice. Do you want to see yourself as a victim of your circumstances? A victim is someone who allows another person or life event to rob us of today. It pulls us away from what could’ve been, and forces us to live amongst the rubble scattered around our lives.
Now that we’ve established that I think the train crash has made my future seem impossible, how do I clear away the rubble and move on with my life? Lifehack.org in their article, “11 Things to Remember With Sudden Life Changes,” gives us some ideas. For one thing, feeling confused and upset is normal. Some people may make you feel bad because you feel that way. Don’t listen to them. Also, the haze you are in now will eventually lift.
So what am I going to do? I’m going to ask God to clear away the rubble I’ve been living amongst, and get on a new train. And this time it’s on its way to the land of hope. I will no longer feel like the owl, alone and ruined mentioned in the Bible verse above. So come join me and see how your future can be brighter even if you’ve gone through a train wreck.
Psalm 34:15 - The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.
Against the far corner of the room stood an old grandfather clock. Its top most part housed the clock works and almost reached the ceiling. The clock was made of a light-colored wood with glass etchings covering the clock face. The chimes hung gracefully and traveled ever downward with each movement of the pendulum.
The clock was a prized possession of its owner having been built by her father many years ago before he passed. But though it was the owners pride and joy, the clock did not bring her peace, but a constant reminder of how behind she got with her work each day. The clock served as a commanding general handing out commands with each beat, and she felt like she was always being watched.
It was as if the General was pointing his finger at her and bending down to catch her in the act of taking even a short break. And so it drove her onward with each sound of the clock. When the chimes rang out, at quarter, half, three-quarter and hour they always made her jump.
She thought off moving the clock into a more secluded part of the house instead of in the living room which she passed through during the day. You see, she did not leave her home each day to venture out into the world to her job, because she was a writer and her home was her work place. And so the General’s eyes were ever upon her.
This tale of the clock and its owner doesn’t stop with just the grandfather clock. In almost every room of her home, there stood a clock ticking out the time as if they were captains and privates in the General’s army.
Some people have the fortune of being more laid back than others. The clocks that sit upon their desks and bedside tables don’t threaten them nor do they demand attention. The purpose of the clock for them is just to mark the time. Nothing more. Nothing less. They didn’t feel the presence of someone watching their every move.
Wrestling with feelings of inadequacy is one reason why we can struggle with feeling watched. We may have failed many times in the past to be who others think we should be, and believe we will always let those around us down.
Thesciencealert.com in their article, “Ever Feel Like You’re Being Watched? It’s Not You,” suggests some ideas of why your feel watched. One possibility is that your observer has noticed you turning around, and looked up at you in return, so even though you’re being watched, it’s only because you’ve turned around. Another one is some slight clue has alerted you to the presence of someone else. This article provides several other reasons for feeling watched that may not be on purpose at all.
Back to our story about the General. At any given time we can give up the sense of being watched. As the article above discusses, we can begin to believe someone’s eyes on us isn’t on purpose to catch us failing, and we can begin again to believe we are doing a good job with each task that is assigned to us in the day. This way, in a sense, we can stop feeling like we’re being watched even at home simply by not winding up the grandfather clock.
Know also, that the eyes of the Lord are always on us. He knows our fears of inadequacy and can hear our cries to be set free from them. He also sees that we are doing the best that we can with what we have. He will comfort our hearts and help us to stop believing we are always being watched only to see if we will fail, but also when we succeed.
Isaiah 42:7 - To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Emotional pain can take you down a road you don’t want to walk.
There are times when you have no strength to fight. You don’t even have enough strength to smile. And so you take the only option you believe will work – You go into captivity in your own home.
It does seem simpler this way than going back out into the world. You can follow your routine and feel the quietness that surrounds you.
So off to captivity you go. Sometimes there’s level ground to walk on throughout your day. Sometimes though, the road is rough as you battle loneliness, sadness and regret.
These things are all part of an anxiety disorder called agoraphobia. And as I’ve written above, agoraphobia can take you captive in your home.
How do you come out of captivity? What can you do to find the strength you need to venture outside your door? Calmclinic.com further describes the disorder, helps you to understand agoraphobia and provides treatment options in their article, “Agoraphobia: Cause, Treatment, Anxiety.” The website also provides a test you can take to calculate your anxiety severity.
God can help set you free from your prison and bring you out of the darkness and back into the light of life. Then you can be brave to take that first step out your door, because you know you’re not in this alone.
Matthew 6:34 - Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
There are people lately who say that I worry too much. I’m always fretting about something. But what if I’m just concerned about a matter? What’s the difference?
Concern is more positive than worry. Concern focuses on something that might happen and is focused on wanting to solve the problem. Concern will cause you to investigate and look for a way to complete a task.
Worry can be more negative than concern. It is fretting about the future. Worry doesn’t benefit the one constantly thinking that nothing good can come out of the situation, while concern will take the steps necessary to find a solution.
Worry – What am I going to do?
Concern – Let’s see how we can solve the problem.
Worry - Focusing on the problem.
Concern - Focusing on the solution.
Worry – Paralyzes the person and they don’t move.
Concern – Let’s get moving. There’s always something we can do.
Barbraveling.com has an excellent article titled, “Worry vs. Concern:8 Characteristics of each.” It digs more deeply into the problem of moving yourself from worry to concern and shows some ways to conquer your worry.
Take a look also at the Bible verse above. It admonishes us to now worry about tomorrow. And it’s true tomorrow certainly will have much that can worry us, but let’s just focus on solving today’s concerns and turning our worries over to God.
Romans 1:8 - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
I’ve been bombarded lately with tension and being nervous. Does this mean that I don’t have faith that it will all work out?
Feeling nervous can be related to things that happen which we have no control over or when we have an important decision to make. But when this makes us nervous, in our minds, we can wonder if it doesn’t have a lot to do with our faith.
According to dictionary.com:
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof; belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion.
To be nervous means highly excitable; unnaturally or acutely uneasy or apprehensive; to become nervous under stress; of or relating to the nerves: nervous tension; fearful; timid.
So you can see, being nervous under stress does not mean that you don’t have faith that things will work out. You just can’t see that they will and this makes you uneasy.
As wikihow.com says, “Being nervous is a normal reaction that all humans have to challenging events.” Take a look at some tips on how to not get nervous in their article, "How to Not Get Nervous."
With tips in our tool belt on how to beat nervousness, we can also see that just because you’re nervous doesn’t mean you don’t have faith that things will work out. Wouldn’t it be great to hear that your friends have noticed that you no longer get nervous about everything and that you know how to calm down when you do? I think it would. Let’s give it a shot!
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Galatians 6:4 - Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.
Compare. It’s troubled waters you will sail into when you begin the game of comparisons.
Those who suffer from emotional pain can often find themselves playing the comparison game.
“Why am I so weak, while they appear so strong?”
“How can they even look at me without thinking of me as less of a person when they have it all together?”
“Why can’t I seem to get a hold of my emotions like they do?”
And on it goes. Each time we turn around we find a reason to label ourselves as one who can’t handle stressful situations. Even small stresses can throw us off course. So how do we win at this game anyway? There’s a simple solution, though it’s not an easy one – stop playing.
To help, it might be good to remember that everyone whether they battle emotional pain or not, plays the game too. At some point in our lives we’ve all failed at something and that something then can push us into years of the comparison game. Yes, it’s not just about our game piece on the board. It’s their piece too.
So how do we stop the game?
Find some ideas from tinybuddah.com in their article, "5 Tips to Stop Making Comparisons and Feeling Bad About Yourself," and the article, "A Helpful Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others," on becomingminimalist.com, such as life isn't a fair game and compare you to yourself instead of others.
As the Bible verse above says, remember that we’re to test our own actions, and be proud of our accomplishments without playing the comparison game.
Proverbs 12:25 - Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
According to merriam-webster.com in their article, "Anxiety," here are a few definitions of the word “anxiety”: painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill, fearful concern or interest, an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse).
One of the synonyms for anxiety is “care”: implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension.
Some people walk around with a chip on their shoulders just waiting to lash out at the next person who crosses their path.
Others, like myself, carry around a different kind of weight – the “weight of the world” on my shoulders. I feel it’s my job to try to fix all the problems around me. Anxiety rises within and weighs down my heart.
But just as the Bible verse says above there is a way to lift that weight – kind words.
It doesn’t take much to lift that chip off someone’s shoulders, or to lift off that weight on their shoulders and set the anxiety free. It just takes someone who will stop what they’re doing, smile, and cheer us up with a few kind words and bring us hope.
You may have noticed that some of my blogs refer to the art of conversation. Our words, and how we say them, have a large impact on those we speak to.
So don’t judge those weighed down by anxiety, but let your words bring a healing balm.
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Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.