Angst & Edgy Feelings

Life can put us on edge so that we find ourselves pacing the cage like a tiger.
Life can put us on edge so that we find ourselves pacing the cage like a tiger.

Poetry & Hard Realities

Poetic imagery often gives expression to our deepest misgivings and unease. A couple lines from Bruce Cockburn are haunting: “Days drip slowly on the page…You catch yourself pacing the cage…”

Angst and edgy feelings can take hold at any time, but we are especially susceptible to them during the holiday season. Memories of lost loved ones or snapshots from a past Christmas can put us into a nail-biting funk; pleasing people or keeping all the anticipation and family demands on schedule can cause us to crash into a place of emotional wreckage.

Part of what it means to be human is to be extremely familiar with the highs and lows of life, though we’d rather not talk about the lows, thank you very much.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are a complex mix of emotions that seldom can be explained in textbook fashion. This is why we turn to poets to sand off the rough edges and define the hard realities in terms that steel our souls.

What causes you to pace the cage; what is the biggest source of edgy feelings in your life?

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Shadows & Ogres

Our motives range from generous to selfish; our faith vacillates between dedication and doubt; our hopes drive us and defeat us; our love wavers in its degrees of steadfastness; our dreams energize us while plotting to swallow us whole.

Darkness can flood in from nowhere to engulf us.  We seldom openly discuss it, but at one time or another everyone experiences the distress of pacing the cage.  

Without warning, feelings of sadness can materialize on our inner landscape like ghostly shadows hooded in hopelessness.  Our perspective can be marred to the point that an overwhelming sense of helplessness or worthlessness grips us.  

We lose sleep; develop changes in appetite or tightrope along the outside fringe of control.  We become irritable, angry, anxious or bored with everything and nothing. 

A bleak outlook is not pretty; getting stuck in a cycle of depression destroys the joy of living.  It can transform the pure beauty of life into a miserable ogre squeezing us without mercy.  In its grasp we struggle to find a balance that sustains us. 

Pulling into its shell works well for turtles, but is not emotionally healthy for us.
Pulling into its shell works well for turtles, but is not emotionally healthy for us.

Practical Ideas & Prayer

Do we pray in silence; sending up pleas for deliverance and solace? Do we seek God while being consumed by the darkness or do we grow silent and blame God? Do we withdraw from others to replay sorrows in an endless loop on some quirky tape-machine inside our head?

The choice is always ours to make, but sometimes we cover the complete spectrum before we come out the other side. Of course there are some practical ideas we can apply to assist us in dealing with crisis emotions.

First, we must not pretend or deny that those feelings exist. Pulling into a shell may work for turtles, but it’s unwise for us. Being honest with a close friend can go a long way to release us from those deceptions we routinely believe.

Be aware and assured that it’s perfectly natural to have dreary moments, but it is unhealthy to cling to them because negativity drags us down. We regularly must change our way of thinking by renewing our mind with the promises of God’s Word.

Second, we need to reevaluate expectations because they are frequently imaginary, and when the fantasy slams up against reality we have to sort through the debris. Time and again we expect life to happen without loss or disappointments, but that is entirely unrealistic; life comes equipped with a full menu of difficulties. We must develop the strength of character to confront each heavyhearted situation head-on without ever waving the white flag of surrender.

To accomplish that we need to get out and be active while we keep our chins up and our knees down; prayer has remarkable properties. Prayer is not some sanctified phrases reserved only for preachers and priests; it is unpacking and unloading all the questions or iffy stuff that can crawl up inside to do bad things to our sensibilities. And it is crucial for us to understand that God can handle everything we dump on him.

Darkness & Light

King David of Israel was no different than us. There was no mystic cocoon of protection around him; he had to come to terms with all the same angst and edgy feelings that challenge us.

In his life, tremendous victories went hand in hand with anguished defeats. Personal failures, spiritual wrestling, family problems and job related stress all combined to knock him off his feet more than once. He knew what it meant to be stricken by despair, to be smothered by the darkness.

Some of his heartfelt rants at God are clear evidence that he spent many brooding hours pacing the cage. The poetry of one of his prayers ought to comfort us: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Despite fears and suspicions to the contrary, God doesn't leave or forsake us; even in the gloom of those murky moods God is present and at work. For darkness is as light to God. That is an awesome truth to wrap around us on those days when we are pacing the cage.

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Comments 30 comments

Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 7 years ago from HubPages, FB

Hello. I like your hub. You stimulated my mind about David. Yes he had dark times. But God light prevailed. The sad writings of Psalms were mostly prophetic about let say Jesus on the cross (Ps. 22). There are two kind of Christians in our time: Victorious and defeated. If David would live today he would be in first category. The secret was that he was singing mist time positive Psalms aloud.

Do I make any sense?

Love yea bro.


Pachuca213 7 years ago

Very nice hub...and I always liked the story of David in the Bible because he made so many bad choices and consequently his life did suffer many tribulations and tragedy but GOD always loved him and forgave him of his sins. As you said "despite fears and suspicions to the contrary, God doesn't leave or forsake us; even in the gloom of those murky moods God is present and at work" Beautifully said!


RevLady profile image

RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

I think David epitomizes what it means to be human with faults and failures and yet, be pleasing in the sight of by God, "I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do." Acts 13:22.

Despite his sins and ranting and ravings, (which God can handle) he did everything God asked him to do. He kept the faith.

Thank you Ken, for this hub that delivers a good read on a thought provoking topic.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Vladimir - Thank you for sharing your comments. And yes, they make perfect sense to me.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Pachuca213 - Thank you for your affirmation. Yes, David is a most fascinating character. Messed up so many times, but kept his faith in tact through it all. An example & many lessons for everyone.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

RevLady - Thank you for your comments. I hadn't thought about that reference in Acts, but you are absolutely right.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Back in high school I was told the the highest suicide rates were during the Holidays because some people feel left out while others are enjoying the season.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

dahoglund - I have not seen any statistics on that, but I've heard the same thing & have no reason to doubt its veracity. Thanks for stopping in & sharing.


poetlorraine 7 years ago

so much in that, do you write for a living, if not you should...... brill


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, poetlorraine. No, not yet, but I am trying to make a go of it, so from your keyboard to God's ears. :>)


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia

Great hub and sound advice, as usual! Love the "pacing the cage" analogy.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, habee.


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

Ken R Abell, This is timely and thought provoking! It is during this season many things come to mind that can cause one to become sad? I think that it is important to embrace the fact that we who are still on this side of Heaven have the "Gift of Life!" At any moment what is happening or not happening can change!

The opportunity to find something "GOOD" in the smallest things can possibly curb those Angst & Edgy feelings. It is healthy not to suppress your feelings but confront them. This helps to shine the Light on them and stop the darkness from taking hold.

You are so right! As you stated: "Despite fears and suspicions to the contrary, God doesn't leave or forsake us; even in the gloom of those murky moods God is present and at work. For darkness is as Light to God. That is an awesome truth to wrap around us on those days when we are pacing the cage."

When it seems like you are in a cage remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Thank you for sharing, Blessings!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

DeBorrah - Thank you for your comments & words of encouragement. Many blessings to you.


Donna H. 7 years ago

Oh Ken, you couldn't possibly know how timely this was for me -- even the timing of my reading it at just this moment at night. I thought I only had three papers left to write. I was so discouraged when I re-read one syllabus and realized I missed a page that lists three more extensive papers. I missed much study time due to multiple family crises and two bouts of flu over the past two weeks. Thank you so much for this one!


Foxxfire profile image

Foxxfire 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

I love your turtle shell analogy. That is so true. I find it helpful to go through my feelings and, like you said, not deny that they are present. However, I try not to dwell on them. I remind myself of one of my favorite scriptures- 1 Corinthians 10:13 which reads...

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Donna - Thanks for stopping by & sharing. So sorry you're jammed up with your studies when you thought you were almost done. Hang in there. And be encouraged.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Foxxfire - Thanks. Yes, the turtle analogy comes from experience. Great Scripture. Blessings to you.


susansisk profile image

susansisk 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

Sometimes we all have to momentarily pull into our shells. Thanks for another informative hub. i mentioned one of your hubs in my newest hub. Hope that is OK.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Susan. And thanks for mentioning me. I will check out you Hub in a couple minutes.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 7 years ago from United States

Excellent article with good advice.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Pamela99


Deborah Sexton 7 years ago

Wow great writing. Very uplifting. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Deborah. Blessings to you.


marygarrison profile image

marygarrison 7 years ago

I am enjoying reading your hubs. God has blessed you with a gift for communicating your thoughts, and understanding. Your Godly wisdom shines through your text. I especially loved this sentence: ‘This is why we turn to poets to sand off the rough edges and define the hard realities in terms that steel our souls.’ I pray I never stop seeing God’s poetry all around us. I also related to your ‘pacing the cage’ analogy. I have paced my hallway during my more panicked moments, in recent times. Fortunately, we do have a choice on where we land, when we are riding the crisis emotional roller coaster.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Mary. God bless you. And no matter what, keep pressing on to the higher calling of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

A very well written hub. It was a pleasure to read your thoughts and ideas. Thank you so kind for sharing. :)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Cagsil - Thank you for stopping in & sharing your kind comments. Blessings to you.


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 6 years ago from India

Hi Ken, interesting hub.. though i dont know much about Christianity but i think nearly all religion teach same and i liked the pic of the tiger.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

sweetie1 - Thanks for stopping in & sharing your comments. Peace to you.

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