I Choked

15 04 2010

This may or may not have happened but I am imagining someone coming up to Jesus and asking, “Jesus, in two words or less, could you describe what trips most people up?” Without a moment’s hesitation Jesus summarizes: “Life’s worries.” Later he expands on this, describing His loving message as seed to be planted in human hearts: “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries…”(Luke 8:14)

I am 42 years old and have known Jesus as long as I have known anything, but at times I still choke. And He’s right: it is all due to life’s worries. Certain circumstances still flatten me. Certain words leave me completely deflated.  The right thing at the wrong time will wipe me out. I don’t want to choke. Jesus goes on to say that hearts in the right place retain what they know and persevere. I like the word persevere, you know, not losing sight of something in spite of difficulties, opposition and discouragement. The problem is, some days I forget everything I know.

Why? Why do I forget? Looking back, I can see that there were times when something worrisome caught me in an unguarded moment (didn’t see that coming!). Sometimes it was the 4th thing and I was already raw (aren’t worries supposed to come in three’s?). Sometimes I was feeling really disconnected from community (where are you, my friend?). Sometimes I was feeling really disconnected from God (“Teresa is temporarily away from her desk…”). Sometimes I was just Peter, through and through, so full of doubt that I could not handle even the thought of that particular worry (sinking, sinking).

Sometimes I do choke on a worry and I forget what I know momentarily. The best way I can describe it is like Jet-lag.

Jet-lag does something to me. When I come back from a trip, some breaker has to reset.  When we came back from Japan one year, I could not remember how to fill my car with gas. I knew the mechanics, I just couldn’t remember the order. This year, recovering from jet-lag, I could not remember the PIN to my Visa card.  Could not!  I know how to fill my car with gas, I know my PIN…what is with that? It is like I have hit my head on the roof of the plane and my little brain is injured.

You can sustain an injury through Life’s Worries but, like I said yesterday, it’s OK. You will return to what you know. And that is how it has been for me thus far.  I have always returned to what I know.

Do you remember that scene in “Something’s Gotta Give” where Diane Keaton, having put her heart on the line only to have it stepped on, goes into this wild period of grieving?  It is actually really funny, but I can relate. Sometimes a worry just get’s me between the ribs and I really grieve. Then, just like Keaton’s character, I suddenly start remembering who I am and what I love and the things that matter. For me, I remember God and I remember His promises and I start feeling His guidance again.  Something dislodges and I realize I haven’t choked to death.

There is a side to me that fears the Big Whopper Worry; how will I handle that?  I am trying to be a good observer, these days. I am watching people who are walking through The Big One and seeing how they are handling it.  You learn something by what they do right, and by where they are faltering; I try to do this without judgement because what would I do? And would I really?

Everything is a teacher.

— Teresa Klassen

Afterword: Someone wise said to us one time, “When you are walking through a problem, ask yourself, ‘Is this going to take 24 hours to resolve? 48 hours? 72 hours? Putting a time frame on it gives you realistic expectations; it also gives you a goal; it also keeps you from stewing in the problem too long.'” That’s a keeper. Thanks Vern Heidebrecht.

After-Afterword: Sent to me via Twitter  — “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods-C.S.Lewis”