There are times when I come on here, and think of a light-hearted ditty I want to share. And there are times when I want to really dive into a meaty subject. Well, tonight is a meaty night, so fire up the barbecue, boys!
I went to the doctor's today. For almost two weeks now, my left testicle has swollen to the size of a tennis ball, and been extremely painful. I have been taking Ibuprofin and Bactrim for it, but nothing has improved. So today, I went to a different Doc. The news wasn't what I expected. There is a possibility that I may have to have an operation, and may even possibly lose my testicle. I didn't handle the news well. After leaving the office, I sat in my car and bawled for about 15 minutes straight. I offered desparate prayers to God, being honest about how scared I was, about how hopeless I felt.
After this sorrow-fest, I felt the voice of God whisper in my head: "are you done? Are you ready to move on?" I told him I was, and I just laughed! I laughed because even if I lose my nut, I still have my mind, I still can run and walk and dance and praise and celebrate all that life is! Not only that, but it's not even a certainty that this will be the outcome. For all of the fear I felt, was it really all that big of a deal? Nothing to go "nuts" and "ball" over, right?
So this is where I am going with all of this. As I sat there, I started to think about copings. For those of you not in the know, a coping is simply how we deal with stress, how we cope with things that feel out of our control. Some copings are good: finding solutions, prayers, seeking help, etc. Others are clearly bad: manipulating others, alcohol, hiding from our problems, suicide, etc. Like it or not, we all find a way to cope. And love it or hate it, all of us have some copings that are clearly unhealthy!
I like to think that our copings also fall into two more categories: fight or flight. Fight copings are those moments when we want to confront our situation. Maybe we want to emotionally or physically hurt the one we feel hurt us. Maybe we just want to trash a room, or cut someone down just for the pleasure of feeling superior. Flight copings are those where we just want to get away from our problem. Maybe we want to end our life. Maybe we call in sick to work and just sleep all day. Maybe instead of dealing with the situation, we spend our day with useless tasks, just to keep our mind off of the issue. In both cases, these can again be either good or bad. Finding a solution in a healthy manner is a great way to deal with a problem. Sometimes, taking the time to calm ourselves down so that we can return to the issue with an open mind and heart is a great way to deal with the feeling of being overwhelmed. But equally, both can be used is horrific ways that only leed to self-destruction. I know, because I am still fighting with my own unhealthy fight and flight coping responses.
But today, God revealed to me in the Word the perfect method for dealing with the stressors we all face. It's found in Psalms 4:4-8:
4 - Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 - Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
6 - There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
7 - You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 - In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
So how does this break down for me: Well...
4 - "Be angry, and do not sin..." - the first thing God says here is that we should feel! We have a right to feel angry (or agitated, as some versions translate it). But... that feeling should NOT lead us to sin. In other words, feel what you need to feel, but don't act on it in a way that you know will offend God.
4 (continued) - "...ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. " - now we need to think about our situation. Put it in your heart, take time to be objective with yourself, recognizing both sides of the situation. And once you have done that, shut up! Don't run out and seek out the other party. Rather, for now silence is golden.
5 - "Offer right sacrifices,..." - Remember that the Old testament sacrifices were offered up as repentance for sin. And what is the sacrifice for repentance that God now requires? A contrite heart and a broken spirit. In other words: Repent sincerely to God for what you have done.
5 - (continued)"...and put your trust in the LORD." - Now is not the time to go out and try to fix this yourself. Rather, trust God to show you what you need to do. Trust God to heal what needs to be healed, and listen for His commands for you.
6 - "There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!" " - Once we have repented and trusted God, now we need to seek Him more! Make Him the focal point of your life again, rather than the issue that distracted you from Him in the first place.
7 - "You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound." - Recognise what God has already done! Don't dwell in your sorrow. Get up and recognise the joy God has for you. Move on from the pain towards peace, once again.
8 - "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. " - Finally, stop dwelling on it, and move on. Put it behind you, forgive yourself, forgive the other, and recieve the peace God has for you. Move on in peace.
When you are angry or upset, take the time to stop before you do something stupid. Think about it rationally, and keep you mouth shut. Now, be honest about your role in the issue, and repent, offering your heart up to God. Trust God to find a solution, and for Him to direct you in what you need to do next. Now, take your mind off of the issue, and return to seeking God first. Make Him the priority, rather than yourself. Once you have done that, recognise the peace and joy God is trying to give you, and dwell on that. Finally put it all behind you and let your mind return to a state of peace.
I can't lie. I am still struggling with this, with practicing what I just preached. Sometimes I open my mouth too soon, or try to solve it myself, rather than leave it to God. Other times, I don't trust God to keep His promise to save me, or I reject the peace He offers me. But when I DO follow this, I get through the muck and mire with a feeling of joy and safety and peace that I never had before. I pray that I will continue to try and make this the pattern I follow for every issue I face!