Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: life preserver (page 2 of 4)

Heart Squalls and Snow Storms

It’s the middle of the day and when I look to my left out the window I can see the snow, at first fat, lazy and soft, drifting down the street.

But as is so often the case, you wait five minutes more and glance out the window and now it’s a torrent squall of sideways snow, much harder, meaning business.

I have writing to do today, I need to focus, but snow storms make me want to pull out recipes, bake goodies, light candles and hunker down with piles of books.

I look out the window again, and now there is already the disappearance of lawns, I can’t see the park beyond the houses, and there are odd swirling drifts darting along the white roads.

I start to think about life. How some days everything is clear, manageable, sure. But every now and then the soul encounters winter. Things sweep in, our visibility is affected, the path we were taking disguised under layers of dense, thick, cold, stuff. Hard things blanketing the easy, it blows in sideways, finding ways to fill and erase every crevice and direction for potential good.

How easily we panic, living in the blinding snow. How easily we lose our way, or must plow through, determination waning in time with our strength, the winter stuff is so heavy at times.

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The Inevitable

Well, it was bound to happen. Inevitable really.

The holiday thrusting extra stresses into the daily coping. The extra excitement bringing a mad sort of pressure with it, waiting to explode without warning, but ending up more like a not-hesitating to implode slowly from within kind of event.

And yes, you had a wonder-filled Christmas, or holiday. And yes, the love flowed, and the memories were made, and the giving knew no bounds, and the blessings were everywhere. But on top of that was a mountain of planning, and running, and waiting, and forgetting, and wrapping, and building, and smiling till your face freezes.

And eventually the slightest breeze threatens to snap your wholeness like a twig, and you’re down for the count. (Love mixing metaphors, love it.)

I call it The Crumble Down Effect.

And it’s what happens when you literally crumble down into a heap, and can’t think, can’t move, can’t respond, and can’t function.

Here’s what it feels like. Maybe you know it all too well.

Can’t think.
The brain, it can’t retain any more info, nor will it retrieve it at whim. I can’t answer your questions today. Your words, no matter how many times you say them to me, will not register. See that glazed, deer-in-the-headlights look? I can’t think of how to even BE today. If you approach me even one more time, I won’t just run for the hills, I’ll run for the hills, and collapse, while I scream. ‘Cause my brain won’t know what to make of any of it. At all. Zero processing. Numb. So numb, I won’t even be able to explain it to you this way at the time. That’s numb, people.

Can’t Move.
The body won’t go if the brain is paralyzed. Period. Since I can’t think, I can’t know if I can even leave my room, my bed, my house. If I do move, it’s in a fog, it’s in reaction to other stresses, and it’s out of the instinct to get low. To wait it out. To avoid another single person who might make my helpless brain hurt. And if you make me, you’ll see the Crumble Down Effect in effect with your own eyes.

And it won’t be pretty.

Can’t respond.
Kind of covered this with the whole disabled brain thing, but if you persist in dogging someone who is suffering with this, their brain will ignore it, and then be completely overwhelmed by it. So ask all your innocent questions about where the coffee got put away, how many times the dog’s been out, or when the next week for carpooling starts, but you’ll get a frustrated stammering response that sounds a lot like anger, or anxiety, and you’ll notice that your simple question becomes this complicated journey to an eventual “I… just… I… don’t know… right now… okay?”
Brutal. Brutal for the person in full-blown CDE, and brutal for the one who brings it to a head. Just warning ya.

And lastly. Can’t function.
I realise I look like something the cat dragged in after wrestling with it for hours first. I know I’m supposed to be doing something and that people need me. I know I’m just figuring out that a whole day has gone by. But that’s what the Crumble Down Effect does. You’re immobilized. Debilitated. Stuck. And it might look like I’ve watched 12 hours of t.v but trust me, I haven’t seen any of it, and it’s because I couldn’t move. It might look like I’m hours on the computer, but I’m not engaging, I’m not anything, I’m just darting mindlessly through who knows what, because it won’t register. You may not ever see tears. You may never hear anger. But it’s because none of it works right now. So despite what you see, know this….
I’m not functioning.

The Crumble Down Effect doesn’t just hit people like myself, living with Dysthymia or other mood/mental disorders. It can hit anyone who has been pushed to their limits, been asked too much of, has had too much required of them, emotionally, physically, spiritually… I see it in moms who go, go, go for the three weeks leading up to Christmas, then suddenly fizzle out, only to find themselves in a mysterious state of meltdown. I see it in people who lived 24/7 at the office or shop, then suddenly get a day off, and the weight of the employment world can’t be carried another day, and the simplest thing triggers a spiraling into anxiety.

It can happen to anyone.

But it’s hard when the Crumble Down happens to someone who manages a mood disorder. Because once that heaviness rolls in, you have a much harder time getting it to lift than the average person.

And regardless of your faith, and its status as strong or fiery, or weak and wobbly, and regardless of how healthy you are, or how many extra vitamins you popped, and how much sleep you get, it can build and build without knowing it’s coming.

And when it hits, you had better have warned a loved one that when the inevitable happens, they just need to trust that when you can, you’ll tell them what you need, and not before.

And that they’ll just need to understand how hard it is in the meantime. That prompts, and incentives, and positive little quotes will not coax you out of your dysthymic crumble. There’s no magic trick, or special chant.

That you just need to be. That’s all.

And as a believer, I have something unshakable for the times things are shaky. I have to fully know and trust, and stand on the unmovable promise from my Covenant God, that He never lets me Crumble Down so far that I can’t get back. Because He never leaves me or forsakes me. He never lets me remain in the pit. Tossed on a raging sea of depression without the Life Preserver. And never is there any condemnation or shame in the meantime. Because inevitably He desires to see restoration flow through every ounce of our lives in Him.

You restored me to health, and gave me back my life” Isaiah 38:16b

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong and do not fear’; your God will come,  with divine retribution He will save you” Isaiah 35:4

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Have you ever noticed that a constant theme through the Bible is “do not be discouraged”?

Really think about that for a minute. The Father, our Soul-ution for every thing we will ever come up against, weaves for us a thread of hope. Of real Hope. A command and a promise for our battered souls. For when the Crumble Down Effect threatens.

Do not be discouraged. He has you. Isaiah describes Him at one point as the good shepherd who not only herds His sheep but carries them as lambs, against His chest, up close to His heart where they can hear it beat, and carries them where they’re safe.

So, go ahead and crumble. Does that shock you? Take today, allow it to be just you, in pajamas, with the phone off the hook, cease your striving, stop the stressing running rampant through your mind, and wait. Wait without guilt. Wait without shame. Know it’s time.

Wait for the Good Shepherd to come back along the impossible path, and pick you up, and press you to His gentle Shepherd’s heart, the one that beats in perfect time with yours, and carry you to better ground.

The inevitable Crumble Down Effect can’t touch Him.

He knows exactly what you need at all times.

He created it so that He’d always be the answer if we let Him.

Look for those strong arms. They’re reaching for you every time you think you’re going down, child of God.

It’s inevitable.

Lord Meet Me

It’s a new year and I wasn’t going to post today.

I was going to take the day to slouch around the house, catch up on other people’s blogs, hang with the fam.

But I can’t shake the desire to have something in writing to hang my 2015 on. To dedicate the words and thoughts and experiences that will wander in and out of this blog, and as a result, my life, and possibly yours if you’re reading along.

And what I want to build my 2015 on, daily, is a very simple request. It emerges from my soul, makes my heart skip a little, and might just make the biggest difference to each day of 2015.

These three words will change your new year too.

And they’re quite simply;

Lord, meet me.

Lord, meet me in the stillness of a new morning. For it’s in the morning that I need you as foundation, and Friend. When You meet with me, deep unto deep, I find myself focused on you and not the worries and anxiety. You exude unshakable peace, and faithfulness.

Lord, meet me.

Lord, meet me in the middle of my circumstances. You are my Life Preserver, the Good Shepherd, Creator King. Nothing is bigger than You. So meet me there? So that I can see with my heart’s eyes that everything pales in comparison. So that I can remember how small it looks next to Your immediate and faithful Presence. In the middle of the chaos, You restore holy order. You calm the seas with one word. Meet me in the middle, while it rages, and compel me to step out of the boat and keep my eyes on you.

Lord, meet me.

When the fog rolls over me, when anxiety won’t quit that day, when the depression wants to yank away the sure and the good, Lord, meet me there. When the dysthymia blocks my line of sight, and I can no longer see, hear, or feel You, meet me there. Deep down, meet me where, buried under all the chronic D, there is still a current of belief, that flows and carries the truth that You press the lost and wounded to your Shepherd’s heart, and that my definition of healing and time and joy are different from Yours, and not dependent on how I feel. In the mess of brain chemicals shifting, You are never shifted. Meet me there, and teach me to trust You beneath the surface of whatever comes at me. Meet me in the provision You supply, so I am strengthened by it.

Lord, meet Me.

Meet me in the celebrations, in the adventures, in the declarations.

Meet me when the highs can take one’s breath away and remind me of Your mercies new every morning, and how You dance and sing over Your children, that You are a God of Miracles still.

Meet me when I’m tempted to take the credit, nudge me with Your grace, and teach me to give all Glory to You. For we can do nothing apart from You.

Meet me there in that space where there’s no other option but to worship You in all your good faithfulness and provision.

Lord, meet me.

Before I type the words to the world, before I thread together what I think I know about You, meet me. Meet me before I blog, so that I can be a sure representation of Your promises and precepts. So that what I write is not based on what I’ll get back at all, but based on the principle of the loaves and fishes. Meet me so it’s Your Hand on the page. Your Voice on the computer screen. Your realness made real.

So that the hearts that read decide to pick up the call and say from their same heart’s depths;

“Lord meet me.”

The words encompass everything, invite Him into everything, and are not swayed by anything.

This is the foundation solution for 2015. Him, and only Him.

And so I’ll end my first post of the new year right here because, well….

There’s someone I’ve got to meet.

What’s your ocean today?

You know what I mean. That thing that swamps you. That floods and overwhelms. That rages and storms and turns suddenly, deceptively, calm. That lulls you into thinking you can navigate the waters all on your own, then creates swells so high that your day is capsized and you can’t remember the last time you didn’t have that sinking feeling.

What’s your ocean?

Mine isn’t necessarily one thing, much like many of us, but if you’ve been keeping up with us here at P&LP you know that my major tidal waves come from Dysthymia, more commonly known as chronic Depression. It wreaks havoc without much warning, it affects my moods and senses in a rather large and inclusive way, and it rolls out again before you can say, “Bob’s yer Uncle.”

This leaves me treading water and doggy paddling around in my routines, exhausted and afraid to wander too far from life’s shore, let me tell you. What if a tempest of stress scatters my focus? What if the next billows drown my ability to complete tasks and function normally? What if the tides shift and I spiral into a pool of despair?

You know, a good seaman doesn’t spend all his time counting off “what ifs”. He spends his time understanding the waters and the elements. And knowing that even when prepared to the hilt, if the weather decides to become chaotic,  he needs an anchor that will keep him from drifting into the rocks, and he needs a life-preserver.

The ultimate assurance for something out of his control.

Can I tell you what faith is? Faith is going moment to moment in the middle of the crashing waves of exhaustion, doubt, anxiety, and frustration, and STILL deciding that the Life Preserver and the Steadfast Anchor will hold, and is ENOUGH to hold on to. And deciding to never let go. Even when you can no longer see the shore.

To remain sure. That He alone is anchor enough.

In the middle of your cancer battle.

In the middle of the job loss.

In the middle of that smear campaign they’re throwing at you.

In the middle of that marital dispute and custody battle.

In the middle of dire and threatening events.

In the very middle of betrayal.

In the middle of your dream being shut down, or that door being closed, or that miracle never happening.

In the middle of that wrenching, soul battering, heartbreak.

I’d never pat you on the arm and tell you it’s okay. It’s not. Hurts and pains and disappointments are hard stuff. It’s a flippant kind of faith if words are spoken hastily over your ocean tides that wear you down each day.

But the hard-won faith, the one that’s weathered its fair share of storms, now enables me to tell you that something bigger than the biggest ocean will hold you steady if you’ll just cling to Him. I can sound like a broken record about this, but I choose to keep professing His faithfulness that holds in any torrent.

He alone is anchor enough. The ever-present help in our choppy trials. Ever heard of a sailor deciding the anchor took up too much room and required too much effort and set sail with it sitting behind in a boat shed? Nope. If one such sailor existed, he didn’t exist for very long.

I got a new album a week ago, and I need to share this powerful song with you by the musical legend that is Michael W. Smith, called You Won’t Let Go. And the scriptural truth that “nothing can separate us” from the Rock of our Salvation beats its own truth-filled rhythm that drowns out the crashing of any wave. Every time.

Waves are always gonna crash. There will be no perfect calm until eternity. But the truth of even the smallest faith can overpower the sound of the temporary pounding of the most difficult seas.

Really listen to the words? The promise laying there for you?

If you get this album the whole thing is incredible. But this song? crank the volume and let it WASH over your tempest-tossed soul. And it will.

Grab hold of the Anchor. Let Him take the strain. Let Him prove His promises.

Calmer seas will eventually prevail. And until then….

Don’t let go.

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