Muck and mire.
Wanna know the definition of those words? (Please say yes…)
Muck: A moist sticky mixture, especially of mud and filth.
Mire: An area of wet, soggy, muddy ground; a bog.
Why am I starting here? Well, because life is messy. It's not very often a straight and even path. More often than not, the road isn't paved. It's a twisty, confusing, mostly uphill trek. The summit of Mt. Everest? Easy peasy. Life? Ouch. Huff and puff.
Life is sometimes made more difficult by one's personality, by their temperament. Me, for instance? Often my own worst enemy.
I am a curious blend of a deep, sensitive, feeling heart – and a very analytical mind. I don't often just live my life – I parse it.
(Parse: To break (a sentence) down into its component parts (of speech) with an explanation of the form, function, and the arrangement of words and phrases, and the relationship of each part to another).
I'm constantly asking myself these questions: What does this mean? How did that happen? Why did they say that? Where will I be in the future? When will this be over? Who am I supposed to be?
Abbott and Costello's comedy routine, "Who's On First?" is delightfully funny – (I know, dating myself here). My own personal journalistic version of the five W’s and one H – (who, what, where, when, why, and how) – not so much.
The worst curse is the compelling need to analyze what I'm feeling and why I'm feeling it.
Now there's another ingredient in this soupy mess that I call me – I have a real problem with anxiety. Yes, I believe that there is a hereditary aspect to it – (I come from a long lineage of Nervous Nellies) – but I don't want to *cop out* on that excuse.
I'm just informing you of the wonderful world of Sharon that exists in my head.
Who needs an entourage? I have a lovely little committee that speaks to me incessantly...
So, here's how it might go:
Something happens – (Step One: Why did this happen? Could I have done something to prevent, change, avoid it happening?)
It gives me feelings – (Step Two: What kind of feelings – are they good or bad feelings?)
Try to analyze the feelings – (Step Three: Why am I feeling this way?)
Trouble occurs at Step Four: If I can't change the situation, or I can't figure out what or why I'm feeling what I'm feeling – ANXIETY ensues.
Are you tired yet?!
You can only imagine how exhausting it is to be like this. I have manufactured a filing cabinet in my head, and I run here and there all the time – filing, attempting to file, re-filing…
Sometimes I'm successful.
I get it figured out, and then I feel good.
Many times, though – no matter how much time and energy I spend thinking – I am unable to understand anything. I find myself on a useless treadmill of unending contemplation and wondering.
I find myself stuck – in the muck and mire of my own thoughts and feelings.
Yup, stuck in personal quicksand.
I did some research on quicksand. It's really rather interesting.
"Quicksand is basically just ordinary sand that has been so saturated with water that the friction between sand particles is reduced. The resulting sand is a mushy mixture of sand and water that can no longer support any weight. If you step into quicksand, it won't suck you down. However, your movements will cause you to dig yourself deeper into it.
With quicksand, the more you struggle in it the faster you will sink. If you just relax, your body will float in it because your body is less dense than the quicksand. If you ever find yourself in a pit of quicksand, don't worry -- it's not going to swallow you whole, and it's not as hard to escape from as you might think. The key is to not panic.
The worst thing to do is to thrash around in the sand and move your arms and legs through the mixture. You will only succeed in forcing yourself farther down into the liquid sandpit. The best thing to do is to make slow movements and bring yourself to the surface, then just lie back. You'll float to a safe level.
As long as you keep a cool head in the situation, the worst result will be a shoe full of wet sand."
Some good lessons here.
You see, what happens when I fall into the quicksand of my own thoughts and feelings, is that I am often overcome with them. I am paralyzed by them. And when I feel stuck, I panic.
Emotional thrashing and flailing ensues – which usually just wastes a lot of time and energy – and leads me to sink deeper into anxiety.
The treadmill begins – try to figure things out, can't figure them out, panic, thrash around trying to fill the proper filing cabinets, get stuck even deeper – START OVER: try to figure things out, can't figure them out – here we go again. (You know, sometimes I think I can even hear that old treadmill squeak – hamsters in the middle of the night – SQUEAKY, SQUEAKY…)
Yes, I turn to God. Sometimes at the beginning of the dialogue – usually as a last resort. Usually I'm turning to Him because I want an answer – and usually I want an answer because I want a subsiding of my symptoms. Anxiety drives me to some dark corners, after all…
But, the more I move around in my own power, the deeper I sink in my quicksand.
So, here's the dilemma – and here's the rescue.
What is GOD going to do in me and through me IN SPITE of my thoughts and feelings? What is GOD going to accomplish EVEN THOUGH I'm anxious? What is GOD going to make happen DESPITE the fact that I feel paralyzed and stuck?
What can GOD do in quicksand?
He can teach me how to relax in the nearness of His presence.
He can cause my spirit to float above the muck and mire of life.
He can reassure me that I'm not going to drown – I am NOT going to be swallowed whole.
He can keep my thoughts and feelings still – He can calm the thrashing and flailing.
He can show me how to make slow (yet steady) movements of faith that will bring me to the surface again.
GOD can do a lot…
He can pull me off the treadmill and steady my feet on a path.
He can anoint the squeaks with the soothing oil of the Holy Spirit.
He can help me file everything under T for Trust.
As long as I keep a cool head –
How do I do that?
Well, for one thing, I make sure that I bring Jesus to every committee meeting that takes place in my head. I make sure that the Word of God is first on the agenda. I stop listening to the voices, and I only pay attention to what the Chairman of the Board has to say – ("Excuse me, everyone else. What was that YOU were saying, God?")
Life really isn't a threatening bog of mucky, miry quicksand. With God on my side, it really is just a shoe full of wet sand…
How does God steady you in the midst of the quicksand of life?
"He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams." (Psalms 23:2)
(I'm linked today with Joan for the first "GRACE CAFE" of 2012)
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"