As I started into the morning I became more and more aware of an odd memory meandering through my mind. It was a flashback to a frustrating fishing experience! And somehow, I am realizing that the image of it is a metaphor for what I'm dealing with right now.
Every fisherman has had the experience at some point in their fishing career of either it happening to them personally or them dealing with it while teaching a son or daughter to fish.
It is called a "backlash" and it causes a "birds nest". Whenever the spool of fishing line is too loose and gets spinning too fast, the sudden stop of the lure hitting the water causes the free flowing line to keep unwinding itself inside the reel. This creates a very frustrating, tangled-up mess that can easily eat up a lot of otherwise precious, peaceful fishing time! A total distraction from the hope and anticipation of some amazing catch!
That tangled up "birds nest" is pretty much the description of how I am feeling these days. While my mind is trying to process and understand the fast flowing images and information I am seeing and reading about constantly these days, my emotions are my inbred mechanism for processing how I feel about it all. My internal responses have surprised me! Like a backlash of things spinning out of control, I need to try to untangle it somehow.
SADNESS. All of the disappointment of dealing with the cancelling of so many fun and important summer events has crated a sense of sadness and loss. Youth camps, VBS, kids crusades, and other summer ministry events are vital to the young people of our churches. They look forward to the annual gathering of friends, the fellowship and the ministry on their level. And I do too! We had plans! But due to COVID-19 restrictions all are cancelled now. Its sad.
SHOCK. The horrific images of the sadistic mistreatment of a man by a police officer is shocking and sickening. The barrage of disturbing images of burning buildings, looting, chaos, violence, and mayhem are creating a mental fatigue equivalent to trauma.
FRUSTRATION. What do we DO about any of this? What can I do?
CONFUSION. I totally identify with those community leaders quoted in the news lately all saying the same thing..."we just can't make any sense of this!" When things no longer make any sense and everything is out of order, even your core foundational principles are called into question. If we aren't careful even our faith can be shaken in times of confusion.
ANGER. The strongest of all emotions generated toward nothing or nobody in particular but at the whole scope of things---pandemics, politics, policing policies, and personal responsibility.
FEAR. Where does it all end? How does it all end? What will the "new normal" be like? We could be living in the the very times Jesus described as "the beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:7-10). Is this TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)? The reality all around us can easily make us think that DOOM and GLOOM are no longer just an attitude.
GUILT. This is the most surprising element of all the emotional entanglement. Is a man of faith, a man of God, supposed to have his feelings so disturbed? Aren't we required to be rock solid in our confidence that everything's gonna be alright? I have to admit that my feelings of fear, anger and confusion make me feel weak--and as a man that makes me feel ashamed. And there are days I feel guilty about just sitting in the quiet refuge of my own little home while the world around me is spinning out of control! The question nagging at my conscience becomes "am I responsible for this in some way?"
HOPE. Thankfully as I untangle this mixed up mess of emotions I begin to see some positive strands! my attention to the tangled birds-nest is beginning to have results. Making progress. There is light in the darkness, love amidst the hate, peace in the storm. And... the possibilities of....tomorrow. HOPE! Hope is the driving force! It will not always be like this. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (PS. 30:5). Patience is at work and there is still a large measure of faith!
I am now aware that with the presence of other emotions like LOVE, PEACE, JOY, PATIENCE, TRUST and HOPE, my list has grown well beyond the "eight" referred to in the title of this article. I am also realizing that if I restructure my list I would see much more positive than negative! And if my life is a tangled-up mess of the good and wonderful blessings of God--even if I don't understand everything--than I can live with that!!
Every experienced fisherman knows that this tangled birds-nest is not as bad as it appears. With a little time and persistence we'll get it sorted out. So I'm not giving up on it.
I might even get back to fishing again!