I’m snuggled into the arm of our couch, a feverish hacking boy resting on a pillow on my chest. He’s been sick for five days.
Moments like these can send me spiraling out of control, emotionally, if I listen.
I have this sinister inner voice that, left unhindered, rockets out of touch with reality, careening wildly into alarming fantastic thoughts and images and stories.
“He might have a cold… a flu… allergies… asthma… bronchitis… pneumonia… collapsed lung. He has a heart condition. His cough is eerily similar to his big sister’s. She had an asthma-like respiratory problem. And a heart condition. And she died. What if he dies, too?”
Pretty soon, I can see my son in the trauma room in the Emergency Department, tube down his throat, and a medical team racing around trying to save his life. If I listen long enough, I can find myself sobbing as if he were laying dead in my arms.
Sometimes the voice inside whispers lies about loved ones, waxes long on a figment of a dream in which my husband is angry with me, improvises with a friend’s slip of the tongue and distorts until I swear our friendship is a farce, magnifies a look and a shrug into an attack on my character. The voice can destroy more than just my mood or my day, it can, if I let it, damage or even destroy relationships.
All from imagining what might be but is not, from listening and giving time to lies and fantasies.
God promises grace for every possible circumstance, for sickness, death, betrayal, catastrophe. He does not promise grace for our fantasies.
How do I silence the voice? How do I defeat its lies and reclaim my peace and my perspective?
I must stop listening and instead, I need to speak truth to myself.
- The daydream or the perception is not the reality.
- My son’s condition isn’t a serious or complicated as his sister’s was.
- I’ve checked him out and his oxygen levels are fine and lungs are clear.
- Even if he does get pneumonia or need to be hospitalized, or even if dies, we’ll find God’s grace sufficient. I believe that God gives us the strength we need to endure any grief and any pain. I believe that it pleases him more when we trust him even when life hurts than when we trust him when everything is easy.
- I need to concentrate on what is true right now, in this moment, because imagining every possible scenario doesn’t prepare me for them (I know this from personal experience and I remind myself that imagining my daughter’s death didn’t prepare me for it) and it wastes mental energy and peace of mind.
- I am called to believe what my husband, my children, my friends say, to assume the best, not the worst, of them. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7, NASB) To attempt to “read between the lines” or to listen to my perception of their words or behavior instead of the face value of those things is to call them liars and to disobey God. (If I truly believe that someone is sinning against me in some way, I need to talk with them about it, and I need to listen to and believe what they say.)
Do you listen to yourself more than you talk to yourself? Do your feelings and imaginations spiral out of control? What do you do to reel them back in and ground yourself in reality again?