There are times when I manage to "settle" the world around me - clearing off my desktop, managing to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed at the end of the day. That doesn't necessarily mean the world 'inside' me is settled, though! At times, even when the outside looks pretty organized and like all is running smoothly, the inside can be a total disaster with a jumble of troubling thoughts and things mulling over in there repeatedly. You probably know what I mean - keeping up appearances on the outside is kind of important for some of us! Truth is - we cannot do it for very long and be very convincing about how we are really doing on the inside! I think there are just times when we need to "come clean" about the inner turmoil so we can finally be in a place where God can actually help us to get is "settled down"!
Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure. God saves me and honors me. He is that mighty rock where I find safety. Trust God, my friends, and always tell him each one of your concerns. God is our place of safety. (Psalm 62:5-8 CEV)
Inner peace is something which evades many more of us more than we would be comfortable admitting. If we were to be entirely honest here - there are times and places of inner turmoil we have been keeping 'under wraps' for a while, believing we honestly have it all under control. Those around us - those who truthfully care about us - they know otherwise! They can read us like a book! It took just a couple of words this week from a faithful friend to pull me out of my 'cover up' - those words were quite simple, but oh so effective. They weren't even "spiritual" as you might think of them, but they cut to the chase. What were they? "You look a little harried." Short and sweet - I looked like life was "annoying me", placing me under some kind of constant attack, or like I was "worrying" something over and over again deep inside.
She was right! I was a little harried - not so much on the outside, but definitely on the inside. You might ask if I was trying to juggle too much at one time and the answer would be "no". You might think I was under some kind of ominous spiritual attack, feeling the pressures of tremendous inward struggle, and the answer would be "no". So, what was the deal? I was internalizing the struggles of my department - the adjustments to new roles and responsibilities which were bringing discomfort to all of us and causing all of us to be on kind of shaky ground. Our team was being broken apart again by shifts in job responsibilities, losing another member of our team we had come to appreciate and feel very deeply for. It wasn't as though we hadn't been through this before, it was just that we had finally settled into our team and were really "clicking". Now the team was being disrupted once again - something which has been a "constant" for about two years - and we were all struggling with it.
I had internalized the struggles of my team - something you might not think is all that bad since it means I deeply care for each and every one of them. Yet, it was not my responsibility to carry that burden! In fact, it squarely belonged on the shoulders of Jesus and not mine! After those well spoken words from my good friend, I stopped to consider where I was at with things - if I couldn't do that, I'd crawl deeper into the hole I was digging internally. It took about a day, but in conversation with the one who really should be handling all this (Jesus), I began to let go and allow him to restore the internal peace which I had allowed to be disturbed by internalizing all the emotions of the moment. The struggles with the disruption of the team will continue until we settle into our life as it is to be moving forward, but at least the internal struggle with this is now in the hands of the one who can help me walk through it with courage and fortitude.
We often do this "internalizing" quicker and easier than you might imagine - taking on the "emotions of the moment" as though we could do something about them. Truth is, many of those things are totally out of our control and we can merely grieve our loss, but we cannot change the course of what has occurred. Grief is something we must work through ourselves and then as a team - each at our own pace - but if we internalize it too long, it will dig a pretty big pit into which we will find ourselves crawling deeper and deeper! Add to grief all the uncertainty of change and the pit gets pretty ominous. What we often need most is to squarely hand the shovel over to Jesus! If we don't have the shovel, we cannot dig the pit! Just sayin!