Even before he starting preaching on worry and how to get “UNSTUCK”, I had found my card they give us to write notes on at church and starting venting; “I am super-stuck. Stuck in a pattern of anxiety about things in my life that I can’t control. I am freakin’ afraid! Afraid that my kids, my marriage, my job, my health will all fail. I feel haunted. Joyless. STUCK. Unable to move freely in my days and into my future. Paralyzed.” Now, if that’s not a fine spiritual posture to have as a sermon starts, I don’t know what is!
While he was preaching about being stuck, I remembered a scary, and embarrassing, time that I got myself stuck when I was little. I was young enough that I honestly can’t remember my motives for doing this, but I, for some brilliant reason, put my small hand inside the mouth of one of those gum-ball machines at the grocery store. It was the kind that dispersed the plastic ball filled with some worthless little trinket. So the mouth was pretty large and my hand seemed like it would fit perfectly up there. Like I said, I would like to say that I did it because I had put my money in and nothing came out or was stuck. I hope that’s the case. But I guess it’s just as likely that my mom told me “no I couldn’t buy that stupid piece of junk” and I decided that maybe I could just get it myself by sticking my hand up there. Regardless, my point is that my little hand got stuck and there was soon a team of employees surrounding me, trying to help me get it out. Fantastic.
One thing that my pastor pointed out while I was daydreaming about my trauma from the gumball machine incident, is that “it’s easier to get stuck than it is to get unstuck.” Got that straight! In order to get unstuck, and these are my personal reflections based on said incident, there are two major things you need to do:
1) RELAX. Stop struggling. If you fight or flail or panic, you will only make the problem worse. Sounds sort of like “Be still and know that I am God,” to me. Sometimes I get stuck because I make bad choices or try to get what I want before it’s time to get it.
Sometimes, like right now, I get stuck because I want to control the uncontrollable. I can’t just relax and let God take care of it. I push and shove and manipulate to get my way and end up stuck in my fear and anxiety. I have to stop trying to fix it and just rest and trust.
And 2) LET GO. I can’t get unstuck from a gum-ball machine shoot if my fist is wrapped around, clinging to, the plastic treat inside. It’s impossible. I could try all day long and the physics of it just don’t work out. I am currently clinging to my kids, my husband, my job, my future and my health with all my might. Well, I am trying, anyway. These are items that no one can actually hold. So why do I spend so much energy trying to do so? I have to LET GO of the things I am hoping to manage, and LET GOD have them and take care of them. It sounds too good to be true. Too simple to be the answer for a smart girl or boy like me or you. But we can either do a really bad job of doing God’s job, or we can let Him do it. Let Him have it. Even if I take it and give it back a hundred times a day.
I am doing Step 3 in my Recovery Program this month. The last line of what I read everyday coincides suspiciously well with what God might be trying to teach me from every angle (I need constant reminders, as my brain has a slow leak…): “We place ourselves in a position in which, no matter what happens in our lives, we can trust that we will be guided and cared for. We are no longer in charge. By placing ourselves in the care of the God of our understanding, we put ourselves in much more capable hands.”
Today you only have 2 things to do: RELAX. LET GO.