Does anyone else have “triggers?”. I remember a superficial trigger I used to have when I was pregnant with my oldest child. Before that time, I was an exercise and health-food Nazi. In college, while all the girls were ordering pizza at 10:00 at night, I was eating my Snackwell Cookies (which may or may not have contributed to other health problems…who knows what’s in those!) and heading off to sleep. So, when I got pregnant I went crazy. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. It was heavenly. One day, when I had determined that I would eat like a responsible adult, I was at a stop light and caught a whiff of the most glorious aroma-Burger King. I could smell the burgers grilling from inside my car with the windows up. I have never liked Burger King burgers because I prefer the fried greasy burgers at McDonalds. But not when I was pregnant, apparently. I circled back and got in that drive through. I ate the best testing flame broiled burger ever. I eventually had to start taking an alternate route to the store so the smell of the grill didn’t trigger a relapse of cheeseburger scarfing.
Luckily, now that I am not pregnant, I can drive smugly past any Burger King without giving it another glance, or sniff. Unfortunately I have allowed some more serious triggers to invade my life. A “trigger” is anything that diverts me from where I am intending to go and gets me all turned around, sideways, and lost in a bad part of my mind that is not safe to go alone. Sometimes I know these triggers are coming and sometimes they blindside me. When I know they are coming, I do my best to be prepared by asking God to be with me and go ahead of me and also to stand between me and the “trigger” at hand. A few years ago things got kind of rocky in my world. I lost many relationships and others were strained and fragile. During that time I went back to work full-time. On my daily commute, I had to (I guess I CHOSE to) pass several homes/cars/locations that would “trigger” painful memories of what had been lost. By the time I got to work, even if I had prepared, I could was often a mess of angst and grief. ALL this before I even walked in the doors to start my work-day. I used to wish I could just move out of this town so I didn’t have to have my emotions on high alert everywhere I went. LIke I said, I suppose I could have chosen to go a different way to work, but for the same reason I didn’t move away, I decided that I wanted to deal with my pain, not avoid it. Besides, wherever you go, there you are. I would take this pain with me one way or another. By driving past all these places from my “past”, I was forced to deal or die. If I didn’t ask God for help and peace and the ability to own my part and to forgive, my daily commute to work would generate bitterness and resentment that would prevent me from loving and receiving love. It was one of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn. A long one, too.
I still have “triggers”. This morning I was reading from “Jesus Calling” and it reminded me that God is saying “when you start to feel stressed, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me. Thus, your needs become doorways to deep dependence on Me and increasing intimacy between us.” When I read that, I made up my mind to focus on that today. To turn to Him in utter dependence whenever thoughts or circumstances or people “trigger” stress in my heart. And isn’t it just like God to give me ample and prompt opportunity to prove it! The first time wasn’t even a “trigger”, it felt more like a full fledged FIRING SQUAD! My heart raced, anxiety through the roof…and then I sensed Him gently reminding me to use this as an opportunity to look to Him. To ask him for serenity in my spirit. To extend forgiveness and compassion on another person who also is walking this road of life and has hit a few bumps of their own. And, as luck (or God) would have it, as I am writing He gave me yet ANOTHER trigger (bless his heart…) to remind me where my identity and peace come from.
So ask yourself…what are your “triggers” and what kinds of behaviors do they trigger? I am pretty convinced that the triggers themselves will never go away. But maybe instead of responding to them with actions or thoughts that are harmful to me and those around me, I can use them to “trigger” my sheer, desperate dependence on God alone to steady, soothe and still my heart and mind. Instead of dreading the “triggers” I can become “trigger-happy.”