Monday, January 20, 2014

In Times of Stress

Not to whine, but I've been under a lot of stress as of late . . . say the last three years.  I mean it has been incredible.  I won't even attempt to go into details. But I keep telling myself things will get better . . . but they don't seem to.

I finally figured that I, borrowing a line from a John Meyer, I can't wait for the world to change.  Change must come from within.

After a horrible week last week were I was once again blind sided but a major crisis that I never saw coming (I'm involved in rewriting a state law and it suddenly became much more complicated), I determined in my heart that this week was going to be a week of calm.

This morning started out well and I kept repeating my mantra (not a real mantra) that I will stay calm and it will be a good day.  Then at 4 PM, too complicated to go into, I was verbally attacked by a family for something I didn't do.  It was a brutal tongue lashing.  I have certainly done bad things in the past, but this time I was totally innocent.  It was awful, so awful that I began to feel a panic attack coming on in the middle of it.  It was the worst tongue lashing I've had since my ex-pastor chewed my ass out for leaving his church three years ago.

Now my point isn't about the fact I'm under stress. It isn't about unfairness.  It is a bit about the fact that I have always dealt with anxiety and I've always tried to imagine the scene of Jesus in the boat asleep during the storm.

The first time I created this mental image was in the early eighties.  I had been hitch hiking in NW Pakistan and had gotten terribly lost. Then I had Typhoid and ended up in a hospital.  Then I got lost again, getting a ride into Islamabad in a truck where no one spoke English.  Once on the outskirts of the city, we discovered that a military coup had occurred. I was dumped beside the road in front of a road block and began to push my way through soldiers to the airport.  I was scared. I finally made it the airport and no one spoke English and I was totally confused.  I just wanted a flight out and all flights had been cancelled.  I didn't know what was going to happen to me.

As my anxiety was becoming uncontrollable I began praying like crazy.  I felt like I was about to loose my mind.  I kept trying to picture the storm around me and me sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  Jesus slept because he knew the future.  He knew God who controlled our destiny. While the battles here are rough at times, in the end it is won.

So today as I as being punched (figuratively) in the face over and over by this family, I tried to vision myself in the bottom of this boat and the storms around me crashing the sides and searching for that peace.  By the way, don"t let your kids aspire to be medical providers. It is hell to do so today.  The regulations are unbearable and many patients love you and many more hate you for simply breathing.  On top of this, I've worked myself almost to death and am near bankruptcy all the time.

Now I'm not saying I'm good at this, like the TV Evangelist that always uses himself as the example of greatness.  I'm terrible at it.  After all, during my entire life I've never learned to deal with anxiety.

This painting by the French artist Jules Joseph Meynier catches the spirit of this thought.  It is solved.  We are significant no matter what others may day or do.  Now if only I could believe that.

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