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The Blessing of Wonky
Most of us have been there…awakening to or meeting up in our day with a sense of askew-ness. The body and mind seem to live on different planets, the face might feel as if it has shifted off center and the brain might feel bathed in syrup instead of the free ebb and flow of light and slippery cerebrospinal fluid. Concentration is a little off, thoughts may race, the body might feel a little zingy. Recognize any of this? Have you also visited the land of WONKY? The culprit can be any number of influences…a change in barometric pressure…the clouds gathering…a shift in hormones… nothing like a good jolt of estrogen to clutter the mind with racing thoughts; too much progesterone and you are walking in a London on a foggy day. Low thyroid hormone and the body and mind may feel trapped under the lead shield the dental assistant drapes over you for x-rays. It can be brain chemistry, hunger, anticipation…stress hormones prepare the mind and body to pick a fight with the next obstacle or flee to a dark, quiet place of safety…maybe inside a bag of cookies. Communication might be a challenge…am I sounding as WONKY as I feel? Do I look WONKY? Can they tell I am doing my best just to be present and focused? This description may be a bit exaggerated for the sake of engagement…but at times most of us find ourselves traversing and navigating the continuum of WONKY.
Here’s the kicker of WONKY. When we find ourselves in the soup of imbalance, there is the fear that we will come to LIVE IN WONKY FOREVER. That a trip to Target will always illuminate our struggle to function, we will always feel a step behind ourselves and everyone else.
That is how I awakened on Tuesday this week…thought I was fine…had breakfast…had a great day ahead of me…wanted to get to class nice and early for lots of quiet time in God’s presence. Then…interruptions, or should I just say LIFE, muscled their way into my plans…phone calls…two at a time…on cell and home phones…e-mails, the Sears guy coming to fix the washing machine, or was that the fridge? Not so difficult usually… but stirred into what I now see as an overdose of caffeine and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) I fell down the rabbit hole, watching husband, repairmen, devotions and yoga manuals swirling in my brain like a smoothie in my Vitamix. While driving to class I realized I had to PAY ATTENTION. Here is what saved me: Breath, Mindfulness, and Memory.
How to Navigate WONKY in a nutshell:
Noticing the breath is a good place to start. Maybe you’ll notice the LACK of breath at first. This is your cue to be aware of making the breath slower and deeper, which signals the nervous system that you are safe…It actually plays a trick on it. The nervous system doesn’t know you are safe yet, but more oxygen in the system is a sign of settling. The nervous system says, “O.K. time to regroup”.
Notice a sense of being present in the moment. Where are you now? What’s happening?I was in the car, sitting, driving.
Notice your body and consciously soften your face, neck, abdominals and legs. This will allow the oxygen an easier route through the body…tension is like a roadblock to life-giving O2.
Notice your surroundings. On my drive to church I began to pay attention to the sunlight, blue sky, colors of leaves, and OF COURSE, the road!
Remember: YOU are not your WONKY…WONKY is the result of perceptions and chemistry. Often it is externals acting on internals. Instead of spiraling down the rabbit hole, we can step back and observe it, acknowledge it and, instead of beating ourselves up, ask, ”This is just WONKY…How can I care for myself now?”
Remember: Your innermost CORE…the person, soul, and spirit…who God made you to be… is always intact. There is a pool of stillness that lives in God’s loving presence without disturbance at the center of your being. It is the most real, eternal place within. How would you imagine that place looks? It is helpful to develop a mental snapshot of that place and bring it to mind often…the practice of entering stillness and recalling the Holy Spirit within on a regular/daily basis will serve you well during WONKY.
Remember: WONKY will not last forever. It is most often a state that will pass. As you gain more knowledge about your body and how it reacts, you will be able to navigate more easily.
Remember: Most importantly…The blessing of WONKY… Knowing God’s faithfulness…From day one, our human condition has predisposed us to WONKY. As we learn to trust God’s presence through these times, we know we are held, loved and strengthened through them. Our faith muscle (not my favorite term, but quite useful for illustration) is exercised and our knowledge of His presence grows, often despite the fact that we may not feel Him in the moment. Hindsight shows that we were able to function and thrive because of the Spirit’s love, strength and faithfulness.
Here are some verses you can call on as anchors for the soul during WONKY. Recall them, in your mind’s eye… see them happening, give thanks for the truth they speak.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NIV
“ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline (also translated “a sound mind”).
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
“…Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Philippians 4: 6-7 MSG
So ,dear ones… take heart when you find yourself following the WONKYBRICK ROAD….Entering the land of WONKY every now and then is never comfortable, but while visiting, we can learn more of God’s comfort. We can become more aware of His strength in our weakness. We can grow hearts full of empathy and compassion for our fellow travelers. Isn’t that, after all, the greatest commandment? To love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength…and to love our WONKY neighbors as our WONKY selves?