Wednesday, January 4, 2012

HOW TO WALK IN QUICKSAND

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.

Mmmm…yummy.

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 meI 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 timefiling, 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."

Hmmm…

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 beginstry 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 answerand 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…

BE STILL.


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!"

13 comments:

  1. "If you step into quicksand, it won't suck you down. However, your movements will cause you to dig yourself deeper into it."

    It was right at THAT point that the light came on. One of the (many) things that I like about your writing is when you find a little secular tidbit and show how even ITS truth lines up with God's truth.

    In studying for my unit on Exodus, I have parked on this verse: "Stand still, and you will see the salvation of the LORD." I think it totally applies here.

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  2. I have had my fair share of muckiness. But I'm grateful that God can erase the messiness and plant a wonderful new beginning. Great post for a new year!

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  3. Wow how I relate to this Sharon, I need to read it through again. Hard to concentrate at the moment, but I so know what you are saying.

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  4. Oh Sharon, the two of us are so much alike. You even knew that I'd be trying to find the definition of parse, lol. Honestly, my over-thinking has caused me so much grief. It's one of the areas I'm hoping to gain better victory in this year.

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  5. As a fellow sufferer of anxiety, Sharon, I do understand how you can get on that treadmill and how hard it is to get off of it sometimes (and it is usually worse at night for some reason for me). Anyway, I like your solution for it. The other day I was getting upset about something and rather than have my mind go down that road that I would normally take, I started thinking about God, thinking of some characteristics to him, etc. I found working that through, thinking of him instead of my own dilemmas, etc I avoided the feelings I was going down that I didn't need to go down. I'm going to try that again when those thoughts come into my head.

    (I look forward to your hawk entry come Monday!)

    betty

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  6. Oh you describe me years ago. I know exactly what you are saying. Why this why that - how do I do this - what does God want - I would see an old person and cry in sadness. I tried to fix everything.

    I was only getting people mad trying to help them. Frustrating myself for not understanding.

    Then I did a lot of work trying to let go of controlling everything and to let God handle everything.

    And I am still a work in progress - but getting better.

    Love, sandie

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  7. Bless your dear anxious, feeling heart,
    Sharon... What a wonderful analogy in your spiritual lesson to quicksand with our life of emotions... (sigh)!

    For some reason, I had to reread various parts because of my mind being distracted! So, who's on first? (lol)... I thought I'd be able to relate to this with feelings
    and messes but gratefully, I avoid the quicksands... however the running treadmill of thoughts all night long, not turning off along with the lights, but running, racing and figuring out or rehashing, been there, done that instant replay... not so sure that I am as organized in filing them.

    Now, how do I avoid the muck and mire? is a better question for me. That one I may need. But did I miss this, is muck and mire related to quicksand? (that's not even one of the 5Ws?)(oh they're just the adjectives describing quicksand).This must come from your analytical side. And I also would have problems with the Climb of Mt. Everest... Since you are in an "overcomer" mode... you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (or wisdom, or peace or calm or being still)...

    I love the finale and What God can do in quicksand... that's my favorite part! Now onto ALL HE CAN DO in whatever mood or circumstance we encounter... He walks on water and calms the storm, anchors me when I'm drifting,... but now I will need to learn how HE can steady my feet (although it's usually my mind) but since I'm renewing my mind daily, let's hope it will stop trying to run or race all night... like the stop button on a stopwatch. Once we do drift off, may we not be awakened my senseless noises but find that complete rest in His precious arms. So much for me to absorb here. Thank you Sharon, for stepping us through this muck and mire, teaching us how to survive the quicksand.

    Love and peace,
    Peggy

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  8. I am like this, too. Way too much analyzing and yes, nervous nellie. God is really dealing with me about this and just recently I'm led to pray in the Spirit much much more and tremendous peace envelopes me!

    Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. 1 Cor 14:15

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  9. Hi Sharon -

    I so love this that you expressed, "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?")"

    Hearty Amens, Sharon!

    GOD is the Chairman of ALL the boards - even when the board members don't know it.

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  10. Sharon - we are so alike in many ways. Tender hearts, analytical minds. This, as you probably read, is my year of trust and already I have been challenged. However, I will put my trust in Him - not in my abilities, not in anything else. I know I will be further challenged, but through it all I want God glorified. I don't want to be weighed down in the muck and mire.

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  11. I understand struggling with a certain temperament. My weakness is worry. I am always reciting Philippians 4:6–7
    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This is my life goal....one I will probably strive for my whole life....not an easy thing for me to do. Only through God's work in my life!

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  12. Hi Sharon,

    I feel like you're describing ME here! Thank you for the insights.

    P.S. I'm now following you and so glad I found you through Debbie who shared this post with me on my blog - http://findingtheinspiring.blogspot.com/2012/01/finding-laughter-and-new-friends-in-new.html

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"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)