Naming It is Half the Battle (a PINK Tuesday post)

Dark Moon Tree on Night Sky / Magic Fantasy Space

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Nothing scares us more than facing off with our inner demons, and yet nothing scares THEM more than when we call them out, BY NAME!

Think Jesus and the healing of the demon-possessed man. Having been filled with a whole herd of demons, this poor man was literally out of his mind (or, he could hardly contain the many minds that had found their way INTO his); running around stark naked and living in a cemetery; scaring the townspeople who no doubt avoided him at all costs. What Jesus DID is not altogether unlike what we must DO when confronted with ‘demons’…

“Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’

‘Mob. My name is Mob,’ he said, because many demons afflicted him.” (Luke 8:30 The Message)

Jesus faced the demons.

Jesus NAMED the demons.

And Jesus sent the demons diving over a cliff, into the sea, rescuing the man and giving his life BACK TO HIM!

No matter what your own ‘demons’ are, NAMING them is half the battle! Or at least one-third of the battle.

Welcome BACK to PINK Tuesday and Part Two of my MID-LIFE CRISIS. Today we face the music – the realization that those things we keep hidden hold a power over us with the potential to derail even the most authentic follower of Christ. Today we’ll continue to identify some of the struggles faced in mid-life, in hopes of removing the power that these demons tend to have when we fail to FACE them, NAME them and SEND them on their way!

Crisis Milepost 3: SHIFT

At some point in mid-life, shift happens. It’s almost as if we don’t see it coming, even though most of us have heard all of the stories before. No longer ‘working for the weekend,’ we find ourselves working for retirement or to pay for college or to free up time to care for aging parents. The idea that I have my whole life ahead of me shifts, and I find myself looking at a whole lot of life that’s behind me now.

This shift in perspective produces at least one of two byproducts for living beyond mid-life: it either lights a fire under my passions and sends me off and running in meaning-filled and fulfilling ways, or it locks me into the next mid-life misery, which is…

Crisis Milepost 4: DEFAULT

Failing to face the reality of our lives (not only in mid-life, by the way) leads us to avoid the present by DEFAULTING to either the PAST or the FUTURE. Some of us avoid dealing with today by opting to remember a better yesterday, or to steep ourselves in former pains and losses until we’re nothing more than a really soupy mess. Some of us fail to face down our demons because we’d rather obsess over tomorrow’s plans, what-ifs and worst-case-scenarios until we’re scared spitless (and by that I mean we just can’t move).

I’m a future-dweller by default, often choosing to stress and worry over what hasn’t happened yet. When we succumb to either default setting, we’re choosing to live anywhere BUT the present; and yet being present in this moment is the only chance we stand of squaring off with what torments us, calling it what it IS, and sending it packing!

Crisis Milepost 5: CONTROL

I like to think that as I’ve aged, I’ve gained wisdom about life and the ways that God works in this world. At the same time, however ironic, that wisdom gives me eyes to see just how many things in my life are increasingly out of control. Out of MY control, anyways.

  • My children are growing up (or at least, growing older) and the more they make their own decisions, the less control I have over the outcomes.
  • The control that I have over my own physical state is waning, too – grey hair where blonde should be; changing metabolism that plays havoc with the size of the clothing in my closet; and I find myself reaching for reading glasses even before switching the computer on…
  • Relationships even take on a life of their own after so many years, assuming a holding pattern powered by auto-pilot. And even if those relationships are still mostly good, they’re simply not being driven by us anymore.

When the light bulb comes on and our wisdom reveals all of these plates spinning out of our control, we do what any self-respecting control freak would do – something to take it BACK! Maybe even something CRAZY, but at the very least we react in order to convince ourselves that we really ARE IN CONTROL… of something.

Looking back over these crises, I guess I’ve laid bare my soul! Panic. Stuck. Shift. Default. Control. My own mid-life issues are no walk in the park, that’s for sure!

Do you see yourself in here? Mid-life or not, do you recognize the symptoms of allowing our demons to go un-checked, un-named and, consequently, undefeated? And yet, strangely, we hesitate instead of following Jesus’ example; often with a little help from our friends.

In the story of the demon possessed man, something strange happens after the demons have been run off. Jesus and his followers help the man to get cleaned up and clothed. He is sitting calmly, speaking clearly, becoming himself once again, and you would think that the townspeople would have thrown him a party! Celebrated his newfound wholeness! Rejoiced in his reclaimed normalcy!

Instead, they freaked out. Too much change – too fast. And it scared them. Sometimes the people around us, well-meaning as they intend to be, end up enabling us to hang onto our demons. Not because the demons are good for us, but because they are familiar.

If there’s something in this PINK Tuesday post that is familiar to you, will you share it with someone today?

Because here’s the thing: acknowledging your struggles is equivalent to Jesus facing the mob of demons in the possessed man. You may not be able to do this on your own, but Jesus is just as available NOW, for you, as He was THEN, for him. Telling someone about your struggles, whether it be a trusted friend, a family member or a counselor, is what it takes to NAME your demon and take the power of mystery and secrecy away from it.

Only then will you be ready to make your move and overcome the things that have come over you.

When you make your move (and I’m praying that you will), I hope you’ll let us know about it!

brita@pinkshoesministries.com

Welcome to my Mid-Life CRISIS! (a PINK Tuesday post)

You think I’m kidding, but I’ve never been more serious.

I WELCOME YOU to my MID-LIFE CRISIS because I’ve learned that ‘the more, the merrier’ is as practical as good counsel gets, and the one thing that my mid-life crisis has failed to produce is ‘merry’ of any kind.

‘Merry Christmas,’ we say.

‘Eat, drink and be merry,’ we say.

No one ever says, ‘You’re FORTY?! Well, Merry Mid-Life Crisis!’

Welcome back to Pink Shoes Ministries’ PINK Tuesday forum! Our topic for today is about as clear as crystal AND as clear as mud, which I’m sure you’ll relate to as you take a few minutes out of your busy day to read on.

My hope is that you’ll join me on the other end of this discussion, chiming in by way of comment, either here at wordpress OR on our facebook discussion board (see blogroll to the right).

Let’s get this party started by exposing one seriously foundational and ridiculous misunderstanding:

CHRISTIAN WOMEN DON’T FREAK OUT.

I totally disagree. Whoever decided that Christian women are somehow exempt from such delightful rites of passage as mid-life was never a forty-something wife / mother / daughter / daughter-in-law / employee / sister / friend. Your own particular brand of crisis is bound to vary from mine, but there are common mileposts along our journey’s path. How much we’re each affected by them probably depends on how fast we are traveling when that milepost flies by.

Crisis Milepost 1: PANIC

That’s right – we panic. Exact age at time of panic attack may vary, but most of us will at some point begin to panic upon the realization that we’re running out of TIME. The pressure we put on ourselves to make something of ourselves can create a fresh urgency to perform in ways we haven’t been compelled to act before.

I find myself asking the question: Have I been type-cast? Like an actor who always plays the same character type – only the location and situation seem to change – am I really stuck with who I’ve made myself to be? Is this all there is and ever will be for me, in my work? At home? In my relationships? Will my contributions to the world never exceed what I’ve given to the world thus far? What’s a forty-something girl to DO?

Get a tattoo?

On our twentieth wedding anniversary, I not-so-jokingly suggested to my husband that we ought to get matching tattoos. That, or join the Navy. He was much more open to the tattoo idea, but fortunately I never had to test him on that (some of you, my good friends, talked me out of it). Still, every time we drive past a tattoo parlor, he asks me if I’m ready yet and we share a good laugh. (Truth be told, though, honey – we’re not out of the woods yet!)

Panic. The Apostle Paul knew about people and panic. He talked with them about it in 2 Corinthians chapter 7, beginning with verse 9:

“Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

What we do with our mid-life panic attacks paves the way for the second half of life, to follow God’s clearly marked path OR to ease on down the wide road in the opposite direction. If we will invite God Himself into our worry over the gap between our life-expectations and our present reality, He will move us into the way of salvation. It may require a sharp turn here and there, but God is faithful to use our distress to draw us closer to Him. Paul is so sure of this that he concludes his thoughts in 2 Cor. 7 with these words:

“And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.”

May our personal PANIC produce PURITY like that!

Crisis Milepost 2: STUCK

Remember the game ‘Statues’ that we played when we were kids? Someone would swing us by the arm in circles until we were terrifically dizzy, then they would let go and we were to ‘fall’ into a pose and hold it – like a statue. I recall holding the pose for painfully long periods of time, waiting for my playmates to guess what kind of statue I was.

Some of us are asking: Is this ALL there IS? This ‘pose’ I’m stuck in? And the weird thing about being stuck in mid-life is that even when life is GOOD, there’s this bleak gloom hanging overhead that tells us this is as good as it will ever get. I’ve known this party-pooper to present itself as depression or disappointment, grieving a future that for some reason we believe is gone. Because we’re knee-deep in the muck and we don’t see any way out. Because that’s exactly where the enemy wants us to be.

God, on the other hand, knows that we tend to buy into the lie that OUR goals and agendas are the only ones worth living and dying for. When our life’s mission is all about achieving our purposes, chances are we’re going to be disappointed. The goals we set for ourselves, independent of God, are very unlikely to be reached.

When we’re attuned to the work of the Spirit in our lives, however, the goals and agendas that we find ourselves attending to are tailor-made to fit the Kingdom-subjects we are becoming!

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8

Stuck sounds like the opposite of abounding to me. God is ABLE, even when I am not. No matter how I feel about it. That’s GOOD NEWS!

Next week we’ll dive deeper into the depths of my own mid-life crisis (you’ll need scuba gear next week, I’m afraid). In the meantime…

How do YOU deal with the panic and stress that mid-life creates? What good counsel can you give – or have you received – that helps you make your way through life in spite of depression and disappointment?

Please SHARE your wisdom and questions with me! You are, after all, WELCOME here – in my mid-life crisis!