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Angst & Edgy Feelings
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?
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.
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.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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