That feeling of gut-dropping panic – and then its abeyance

I’ve always heard to “wait on the Lord.”  That those who do will run but not faint.  They will rise up on wings like eagles.  I never understood any of it.  But then I heard this story about how mother eagles teach their young to fly.  Eagles nest way up there in the mountains, on cliffs and crags.  You can’t just throw the babies over the edge and hope they learn on the way down.  Except, that is exactly what mother eagles do.

Then, something amazing happens.

No, the babies don’t magically fly on the first try.  Because, like everything in life, you can only learn by doing.  What does happen is even more cool:  the mothers catch them.  On their backs.  They fly up under their young and catch them.  Then they fly them back to the nest until the next series of flying lessons.  (I’m not crying – YOU’RE crying!)

In this scenario, we are the baby eagles.  Falling and terrified.  Because how is this possibly going to end well?  I’m dying.  Right now.  I’m falling and dying and no one cares.  My own mother pushed me out of the nest to fall to my death.

And then: a swoop and a save.  A gentle catch.  And I’m rising again, impossibly alive.

That’s what happened to me today.  I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been pretty suicidal these last few days.  I felt the ground rushing up to meet me.  Financial stress, loneliness, the divorce, living in a rental with lots of mold, not much mental bandwidth to focus on a larger purpose, not knowing what to do with my life or where to live or even if it’s all worth the effort.

Things have happened today to make me think that all these problems are conquerable.  As I was on my knees thanking God for His Providence, I realized that this is exactly what we are waiting on when we wait on the Lord:  his awesome Providence.  His swoop and catch.

It has been so tempting the last few days to rage and demand.  To try to force things to work.  My car is in the shop.  I’m low on groceries.  Low on funds (less than a dollar in the account yesterday evening with the electric bill due today).  The trash needs to be taken to the collection point.

I told my friend Quinn, “I need to take my trash out, but I don’t have my car!”  He said, “So just wait until you get your car back.”  As a person of action, I found this answer annoying.  I mean, I could call and impose on my neighbors, couldn’t I?  Shouldn’t I?  But I decided to wait.

And now today, I got an offer not only from the Honda dealer of  a loaner car, but also an offer from my mom of a ride to take me to the Honda dealer (which is over an hour away from me, two and half from her) to pick up said loaner car.

It’s not just that.  Plans for the future are taking shape and coalescing out of the swirling darkness of nothing that I thought was my future.  Ways of making them happen financially are kind of becoming clear, too.

I feel like God let me fall an exceptionally long way this time.  But I also feel like I had the most practice at learning to fly.  I mean, I can’t fly.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not over.  I may be on God’s back right now, hanging out, enjoying the ride, gaining a little altitude.  But I know I’ll be dropped – over and over and over.  And it’s going to suck each time.  The ground will rush up to meet me, and I will probably panic every freaking time until this life is over.  Except.  Maybe?  Maybe I won’t.

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The Ugly Suffering of Christina the Astonishing

I just read an incredible article by Kristin Valdez Quade about Christina the Astonishing: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/christina-the-astonishing-1150-1224

I have bipolar depression and found Christina’s name in an internet search for patron saints of mental illness.  I’m not exactly sure why we call them patron saints “of” mental illness.  I’m not sure it even matters, and Christina is not a saint anyway.  Not really.  She was never canonized and I’m pretty sure her cause isn’t up for consideration by the Vatican.

She was more considered a holy woman.  She could smell the sin on people and tended to avoid them.  Aggressively.  She is not an easy person to get behind or to have fuzzy feelings for, which Quade’s New Yorker piece highlights well.

I’ve spent much of my time studying what makes the supernatural world tick, and how it interacts with this world.  Why exactly do people get possessed?  What does it look like?  Do we even recognize it when it happens?  More often, people suffer from demon “oppression,” and that is certainly not easy to recognize.

It occurred to me that Christina the Astonishing was oppressed or possessed by a demon or demons.  But the part that really intrigues me is that the story goes that when she died that first time, she was given the choice by God to come back to earth to offer up her earthly suffering for the souls in purgatory.  She took God up on that offer.

She did suffer in her life.  But it was an ugly suffering.  She usually attacked the people who tried to help her, throwing their food offerings back at them, yelling their sins at them.  Demons can cause some nasty suffering.  It’s pretty characteristic, in fact.  They are mean and cause their victims to last out at the people around them.  Kind of like Christina did.

The Catholic Church has the idea of redemptive suffering.  That your suffering can be offered up to help others.  I’m fascinated by the idea that this suffering could possibly be demonic in nature.

What about you, gentle readers?  Have you ever suffered something that had a demonic edge to it?  If you’re Catholic, did you offer your suffering up as a sacrifice?  The answer to both of those questions for me is “yes.”

 

Doors, the Enemy, and Strongholds

“Any time a door is opened, it allows the enemy to set  up a stronghold in our lives.”

I had heard these words, read them, in many places, but I never understood them.  I mean, what is a “door,” and what is a “stronghold?”  And who, exactly, is the “enemy?”

When I was in middle school, my friend and I pulled out the ol’ Ouija Board for the first time.  We didn’t see any harm in it.  Nobody had ever told us not to do it.  And it was made by Parker Brothers I believe, the company who had made lots of our other games.  It took a long time to work, but finally we were able to talk to a “spirit” who told us to do things, like go down to the crawlspace under the house.  We did, and nothing seemed to come of it at the time.  But it opened a door.

Later, we tried automatic writing, and, again, got to talk to spirits.  Nothing much seemed to happen immediately, but it also apparently opened a door.

Then the nightmares started.  I woke up drenched in sweat at 3 am every night.  I felt like something was in my room, something that I couldn’t see.  It’s difficult to convey in mere words the terror that haunted me nightly.

That, it turns out, is what happens when you open a door into your soul.  Things walk in.  The enemy.

So, a door is just anything that invites the enemy in.  The enemy is Satan and his demons.  And a stronghold is the snuggly little camp they set up inside your soul from which they make their nightly and/or daily forays into your mind and life.

I will try to post more on what doors are out there, how to avoid them, and what the end game is.  In the meantime, let’s all put on the armor of God as found in Ephesians chapter six:  “So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

What about you?  Have you ever opened what may have turned out to be a door?  What happened?