You had been sound asleep, but now bolt upright, wide awake, heart pounding wildly in your chest. You strain to hear any further sounds beyond the thumping of your heart.
Just as you get ready to lie back down on your pillow after reassuring yourself that you must have been dreaming, you hear another sound that shouldn’t be happening in the house at this time of night.
Any intentions of going back to sleep are forgotten. You are fully awake; your body on high alert, in anticipation of whatever threat is there. Just as if you had opened your front door and came face to face with a snarling tiger, your brain has registered danger.
In the blink of an eye your heart, circulatory system, adrenal glands, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, brain – in fact almost every organ in your body has been activated in some way with hormones and chemicals to meet this danger. Your hands feel clammy, your feet cold and fear has created a hard knot in the pit of your stomach.
Before you can decide what to do, your bedroom door is pushed open, and in run your two cats. You had forgotten to put them outside and they had been playing tag in the living room, knocking over and breaking a large table lamp in the process. With some trepidation, you search the house, check the doors and windows, and with a huge sigh of relief, go back to bed and go to sleep. (I had such an experience while visiting a friend in California).
We were made to respond to life events like the one above
They may not always be so dramatic. But when your teen is late getting home from a party, your toddler dashes in the street, or that car weaving in and out of freeway traffic ahead of you almost causes a five car pileup; in such moments you experience panic and are instantly “geared up” to meet that emergency. Once the danger is past, our bodies return to a restful and restorative state.
We were made for the stresses of life whatever they may be
What we were not made for is constantly perceiving and gearing up for a danger that is not there, problems that remain unresolved, continuous anxiety and worry with no resolution, constant fear that has no basis, believing there are no choices, remaining rigid and uncompromising, and the inability to let go of our losses and grievances and take what life hands us and turn it into something positive.
When we feel at the mercy of whatever is happening in life, we are like a ship at sea without a rudder and a broken steering wheel. We live with an ongoing undercurrent of anxiety and fear, waiting for something catastrophic to happen.When storms kick up high winds and rough seas, our greatest fears are realized and we are sent into a panic.
Life can kick up some pretty fierce storms. But if we are prepared ahead of time, we will know how to trim our sails, tie the rudder, and hunker down until the storm passes. We will have a well stocked lifeboat in case we need it. We will turn our fear into actions that can save our lives. We will have a faith in God that no matter what happens, we know He is there with us at all times, giving us courage and strength to endure and find solutions. And when we have done our best, will be able to lie down in peace.