I’d gotten kind of used to it. The first time I felt the sensation was right after I got married. (It wasn’t all wedded bliss.) Whenever I got really upset, a tingling sensation ran down my arms, something akin to a mild electric shock sizzling down from my elbow, ending at the tips of my fingers. The prickly feeling always preceded tears. At first, I wondered if it was normal. The second time, I knew it was something I couldn’t control. Had my need for a good cry triggered the sensation, or vice versa? It was always when
- Someone made an angry or hurtful comment.
- I became involved in a hateful argument.
- My out-of-control feelings came to the surface.
- I tried controlling (holding back) tears.
I researched the symptoms. The strong sensation is the result of anxiety. Pretty wild to think my feelings could trigger such a physical response. At times of stress, our brains are transmitting extra signals. One researcher calls it a traffic jam in our nervous system.
So, what could I do? Back then, all I knew was to remove myself from the angry situation long enough to feel safe. One evening, I had a response to a stressful experience that has stayed with me all these years.
Thirty-three years ago this February, I was sitting at a restaurant across from my spouse one evening, our first meal together in over a month. Though we’d been married eight years at that point, we’d been separated over thirty days, and were reconciling. I’d just picked him up from the airport, and we stopped for dinner. The waiter appeared and took our orders. After he walked away, my spouse leaned in.
“I have something I want to talk with you about.” He proceeded to unload some details of his past, to get things off his chest. I leaned in, knowing it was important that I hear what all he had to say. Soon after the talk, he got up from the table to go to the restroom. I sat there in shock, my heart racing.
The month of our separation had been therapeutic. I’d spent day-after-day recovering from an extreme case of codependency. My spirit had a sense of renewal. I’d also come to a place of emotional detachment from my spouse, so as to get in touch with the person God had intended for me to be. I’d reconnected with God on a deeper level. I’d begun building a new foundation with Him, or maybe I should say, re-building.
But my spouse’s words had jarred me. I felt my pulse pounding, my very being become panic-stricken with thoughts like, “How will we ever move forward?” That’s when I practically heard God’s voice, knowing full well He’d been listening to our entire conversation.
He simply asked, “Don’t you trust Me?”
“Yes!” my heart screamed, “I totally and completely trust You.”
My life, as did my marriage, became a lesson in trust, a way of living out Psalm 143:8b: “Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” By God’s grace, we recently celebrated forty years of marriage.
And reading John 14:21, it’s about keeping God’s commandments. Under my own power, I’m hopeless. But God’s word assures me that the way we respond to Him will affect our experience of Him. Trusting and obeying Him allows us ultimately, to know Him better. I may not have a clear picture of how my trusting in God can manifest good things down the road, but I have an assurance I simply cannot explain any other way. There’s a certainty of promise when it comes to God’s heart for us, His children.
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From a powerful hymn; lyrics by Jean Sophia Pigott (1845-1882); music by James Mountain (1844-1933):
“Jesus, I am resting, resting… in the joy of what Thou art. I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Thou has bid me gaze upon Thee. And Thy beauty fills my soul. For by Thy transforming power, Thou has made me whole.”
I recently spoke with a remarkably upbeat woman who’s still recovering from breast cancer treatments. While reading the Bible, she said she came across 1 Chronicles, and a verse that assured her (and I’m paraphrasing) “whatever suffering you may endure, it will not be in vain. I can and will use it for good.” That takes trust.
Whenever you need help with trusting God, or even an antidote for stress; for preoccupation with things you cannot change, I challenge you, especially if you suffer from codependency. Depend on God! Meditate on the words to a hymn or a scripture, like Psalm 143:8b:
“Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011, 2016 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.