The LORD is asking, “Do you trust Me, child?”
And surely He is worthy of all trust,
but visceral reactions oft’ seem just
in keeping soul’s anxieties well riled.
While panic, shame and dread stir doubting winds,
obsessive, tight, compulsive thoughts pour fuel
into this downward spiraling boil of gruel
where toxic interactions breed more sins.
So for relationships I feel unfit,
and now old interests die and pleasures wane,
as each new hope in Earth’s good brings fresh pain,
where dark depression’s presently my bit.
Yet in this wilderness I hear God call,
“Child, look to Me. I am your ALL in all.”
I meditate upon the word of God
to heal a mind that’s broken from the fall,
and lying in morn’s bed I now recall
the former paths of fullness I have trod.
I clear the course of tangling debris
that fogs perspective’s distance-viewing sight
and clogs the narrow way which lets in light,
so with God’s truth I’m able to agree.
I gaze toward the future that is sure,
to glory that is promised out of trial.
I push through lying voices of denial,
rememb’ring my inheritance secure.
So healing first begins by sizing scope,
for in true measure I can grasp true hope.
Long sheltered in the recesses of mind
on pedestals that overshadow truth
are lies which I have entertained since youth
like tape recordings stuck on forced rewind.
There‘s something of appeal in misbelief,
some comforting, perverted, dressed-up face
which keeps foul strongholds rooted into place
and lets such rotten seedlings harvest grief.
But I must choose to undermine their message,
uncovering deception’s hidden lairs
whose cultivation grounds for growing tares
leave roadblocks to integrity’s safe passage.
God’s probing, piercing words—what precious gifts!—
can excavate, expose and extract myths.
I apprehend these truths in David’s psalm:
“I’m fearfully and wonderfully made,”
and all my days of life are firmly laid
within the sovereign care of God’s own palm.
And yet another voice keeps creeping out.
“You’re too unfit for blessed community,
hence from belonging full immunity
is your dim lot,” says paralyzing Doubt.
For ‘gainst the Word that says I‘m rightly hewn
rub all the bristling edges of myself,
but would one set forever on a shelf
a Bösendorfer piano out of tune?
No, value is a function of creation,
and He who made has promised restoration.
Restoration’s anchored in redemption,
and my redemption‘s grounded in God’s love.
Nowhere in far reaches man has thought of
could mind unfurl the breadth of such conception.
Sloshing, hesitating in the shallows,
I wander close to shore in Love‘s vast sea.
Then from the swell I hear a coaxing plea
to dive into the deeper wake of hallows.
What‘s this weight that pins my frame from racing
toward His unknown billows of delight?
Do I not trust that He will clasp me tight,
help me bear the fiercest waves I’m facing?
What guile of devils am I heeding here
which keeps me bound by paralyzing fear?
Disheartened by my want for firm resolve
to swim toward agápē’s unplumbed depths
for int’macy with Him who paid my debts—
the only One from sin who can absolve,
I wander, wond‘ring what I’ve missed to see
within my comprehension of Christ‘s love
when He would vacate majesty above
and suffer cruelest death to set me free.
They stripped Him, flogged Him, spit, pulled out His beard,
then pressed a crown of thorns down on His head.
They nailed Him to rough cross to leave for dead—
Creator of the world now by it jeered.
In love this traitor by her King was served:
Christ Jesus bore God‘s wrath which I deserved!
Considering what labors Christ performed
to buy my freedom off sin’s slav’ry block
that of His fullness, with Him, I could walk
in resurrected life (not just reformed),
can I not trust that He will see me through
each trial, tribulation, sorrow, loss
when He would not forsake me at the cross
but carried all my grief and suff‘ring too?
And just as death‘s cold grave could not contain
my Savior but gave way to watch Him rise,
whatever loss my path has to comprise
shall work for me eternal glorious gain.
So while my courage may still be in lack,
the settled thing is there’s no turning back.
Wading through fresh tidal pools of mercy
along a piece of coast that‘s not too wide—
among the crags and caves where stragglers hide,
hoping to evade crowd controversy—
I know I‘ll have to move on before long.
But in the warm meanwhile of the day,
I kneel to rest; and as I start to pray,
my heart begins to open to a song—
a gentle, soothing lullaby I’ve known
sung to the tune of ‘Eventide‘ as hymn,
reminder that this life is fading, dim
but that in Christ I never walk alone.
And as I raise the words, “Abide with me…,”
here comes my Shepherd, walking by the sea.
What now is this waylaying, sin-sick soul?
Diversional winds from cliffside descend.
Where‘s pressing fire my devotions attend?
Brain‘s robbed of sanity, sleep, self-control.
Jesus comes near numb heart in distraction
and bids me again to clean deadwood out.
Jesus, I‘m desperate, drowning in doubt!
Help me expel what‘s needing subtraction!
Discipline, prudence, wisdom, contentment
can work to restore both body and brain,
while worship will lift locked heart from restraint—
its untethering from woe’s resentment.
I won‘t, without wisdom, taste truest Love,
yet Love holds true keys to wisdom above.
Mottling mind’s hazed subconscious sockets—
bedecked by ego’s restless crave for fill—
infections grow to permeate my will,
ladening, with dross, affection‘s pockets.
Foul seepage soon coagulates to plaque,
forces clefts which weaken my foundation,
foments psyche’s stormed disintegration
till half-light’s flushing falls to midnight‘s black.
Yet amid murk‘s rotting, rank confusion
with ev‘ry faculty succumbed to rift,
My Shepherd plucks me fiercely from the cliff,
tending thorn-torn blight with Love‘s ablution.
Healing, though, requires my surrender—
all cooperation I can lend 'her.'
Jesus asked a question at Bethesda,
the pool by which an invalid was lain,
for thirty-eight lost years left in his pain—
twisted, timed, tormenting, teared siesta.
“Do you desire to be made well?” He asked.
“I’ve none to help me!” was the plaintive cry,
then Jesus spoke miraculous reply
that to get up and walk the man was tasked.
That’s not to say all healing will be found
within this present life of ills and woes,
but still I hear Christ probing through the throes
if I am truly willing to be sound.
Or would I rather lie on crippling bed,
an invalid of spirit, heart and head?
Shuffling through some past miscalculations
surrounding toxic breakage of the vines
that ought secure the healthy bound’ry lines
guarding interpersonal relations—
rememb‘ring my susceptibility
to ego-shuttled, codependent err‘rs
which strain to manage others‘ own affairs
and so invert responsibility—
I ponder if I‘ll ever grow to learn
proper seeds for sowing mutual trust
with vital tools for gently sanding rust
to help stave off a bondship‘s breaking-burn.
One thing I know, that trusting in the LORD
steers love‘s impetus to carry forward.
“I’m not enough and yet too much,” I've read.
Succinctly that describes my current angst,
and I can‘t justify to war against
these arguments which whirl around my head.
I’ve been told, “You’re just a little intense,”
by many people, not just one or two,
and this they voice clangs manifestly true,
as gaping holes defect my bound‘ry fence.
Voluminous in content and in force,
bestowing as prized gifts what isn‘t sought
or wanted by those for whom gifts are brought,
I falter in my need to change set course.
And where it comes to giving what‘s desired,
real competence seems found to have expired.
Someone wrote, “true soul mate is a mirror“—
like limelight they‘ll reveal your unseen faults.
Where no one else delights to search your vaults,
“soul mate“ renders time to be apt hearer.
It matters not, was said, that they don‘t stay,
so long as they‘re an agent for reform—
the one who makes you desp‘rate to transform
by breaking heart and making ego fray.
Danger lies in nuanced underpinnings.
I thought I‘d found my soul mate in abuse
and used “he needs my fuel“ as excuse
to take a twisted game to extra innings.
Here I’ll grant these crazed imaginations
were at core demonic machinations.
Casting down romantic schoolgirl notions
that sin-drenched bonds might fashion souls complete,
I drag bewitching grails to Jesus’ feet—
spurning now to drink past guile‘s potions.
As I linger longer in His presence,
I‘m freshly bathed from marring guilt and shame,
reminded I‘m made whole in Jesus‘ Name—
partaker in the fullness of His essence.
Identified eternally with Christ,
secured by His unfailing love through grace,
one day I‘ll walk perfected face-to-face
with Him from whom true life is all-sufficed.
And as I muse, I taste true heart‘s desire—
rekindling, renewed with holy fire.
Attitude is prime, determinant hinge
on which the door of restoration swings—
deciding what response subconscious brings
and on which morsels mind should bestly binge.
Plenty is dependent on perspective.
Mountain, plain or valley alter sight
and size by which is measured present, plight.
Simply switching lens can be corrective.
In Christ, Ephesians tells me, I‘ve been raised,
seated with Him in the heavenly realm—
positioned by the One who steers the helm
that Father, Son and Spirit would be praised!
Worship, like a rudder, sets the outlook
to keep me highly grounded in God‘s Book.
Why should I to the worship of false gods
surrender my outlook frivolously?
Idols grab first gaze notoriously,
rob joy as will‘s defenses yield heart‘s nods.
What then? Can I suppose I might steal back
a measure of exuberance through more
skewed genuflecting to gilt calf before—
itself beleaguered, plagued by woeful lack?
Now heed, wayfaring soul of mine, what‘s true:
Creation‘s bounty-goods will make you slave
and with sweet Siren‘s flutes your mind deprave
when to them you lend focus Christ is due.
Lay firm your eyes on Him—pure, restful bed,
cover, fuel, completer, Fountainhead.
Wandering down some cobbled, crowded street,
I‘m nowhere headed, rapt in mindless thought,
and as I saunter south I happ‘ly spot
a friend long-lost but fiercely longed to meet.
Just up ahead, he’s mixed well in the throng
but might be caught if I push through and race!
Heartbeat quickens. Oh, to see his face,
this one with whom I’m sure I must belong!
Yet when I actually seize him and he turns,
I’m devastated, sunk. It isn’t him.
Then moping northbound—dazed, dejected whim—
I stumble on the One for whom heart burns!
How strange, as I had grappled, chased and shoved,
that I’d been running from the One I loved!
He‘s reservoir for which parched spirit begs,
familial feast cast heart longs to attend,
elixir fractured psyche craves, to mend,
secure foundation ‘neath soul‘s skittish legs.
Jesus is hearth fire, garden blooming,
joy‘s kiss that welcomes prodigals with tears,
arms’ tender brawn consoling weak ones‘ fears,
shelt‘ring lullaby as nightstorm‘s looming.
Who else can scatter stars, strew mountain snow,
to whet beloved‘s taste for pristine grace?
What other love’s like this, that He‘d embrace
excruciating death to grace bestow?
And best, most faithful lovers of this earth?—
dull pennies next to Christ‘s resplendent worth!
(** — XXXII) [Edited in 9/27-29/21]
Closing the door on chaining obsessions
requires some short-circuiting of thought
previously allowed to flow uncaught
and forge ever-deepening depressions.
Pathways in my brain can be rerouted
by changing interactions with my world,
observing what’s most easily unfurled—
presently what’s to five senses suited.
‘Mindfulness’ can be a Christian practice
and doesn’t have to rest on Buddha’s shelf—
“awak’ning non-existence of the self”—
or from unseen, eternal things distract us.
True mindfulness is found in gratitude—
joyful, eucharisteo attitude.
A biblical version of ‘mindfulness‘
is found in 1 Thessalonians 5,
revealing as God’s will that saints should strive
for ever-prayerful joy and thankfulness.
Pond‘rous gratitude staves off resentment,
greed and pride. As was taught to Timothy,
what‘s created and giv‘n by God should be
received in sacred thanks with contentment.
Creation reflects God‘s bounteous glory
and demonstrates His loving grace and care,
so in same grace and glory we can share
each time we recognize Him in our story.
Ten thousand tiny gifts write each day‘s page,
and he who welcomes most is most like sage.
In restoration, elasticity
of mind is a factor to celebrate.
So please don‘t ever underestimate
the wonders of neuroplasticity.
New brainpaths form and old channels falter,
depending on what choices I might make.
Fresh experience of which I partake
will physically help my brain to alter.
Here‘s one great hope I must now remember:
What’s hardwired today can still be displaced,
and thoughts might soon flow on paths greenly graced,
as I feast my soul’s eyes on brain’s Mender.
Bent mindfulness toward Giver and His gifts
best brings joy‘s healing for my mental rifts.
Realizations that some obsessions
are desires to vicariously ride
the mindfulness of others who don‘t hide
their own keener sensory possessions,
aptly are aiding to turn my focus
from curiosity to understand
their thoughts, which often‘s led my heart-demand—
want to consume their minds‘ crops like locusts.
What I‘ve perceived as love, concern to know,
empathy for others‘ worlds internal,
might be more escape from mine external—
attempts to hide from life‘s real, present show.
Avoidance wears all sorts of vibrant masks
to keep me blinded to here-moments‘ tasks.
Viewing secondhand eviscerations,
as others spill their innards on the page,
may seem the safest way to heart engage—
surrogated life participation.
Substituting others‘ honed perceptions
where I ought learn observance of my own
will keep childlike experience ungrown,
smother creativity’s conceptions.
Social media’s pitfalls lie therein,
along with greater dangers lurking large.
Despite its many goods, there’s needed charge
that gorging on a good thing leads to sin.
Shutting website windows is like trailhead,
opening mountain path to higher tread.
I‘m learning to sit with anxiety
raised by self-denial of habit’s fix,
mindful how my heart solicits tricks
to alternate for true society.
Discomfort speaks in volumes to soul’s ear
like smoke alarm alerting to a fire.
It tells me, “Quick, investigate! Inquire!
Please find the source of inner burning fear!”
Nervousness as friend might offer insight
if I can hear and listen to its warning,
objectively without the shame-filled scorning
that tends to follow panic-stricken plight.
Practice putting tension in glass cage
to monitor its undercurrent’s rage.
It’s time to preach a sermon to myself,
for fears are overtaking me in waves;
and spirit must combat what habit craves—
flesh seeking consolation in false pelf.
Scrutinize what’s underneath such worry.
Do I believe the LORD is still in charge
of details of my life and world at large?
Look to Him. Don’t yield to anxious hurry.
Do I believe He’s with me and He’s good,
a faithful Shepherd tending to each need?
Then look to Him. Don’t drown in fretting’s greed.
Christ’s sheep don’t have to look elsewhere for food.
Each wait is opportunity to grow,
for God has holy riches to bestow.
God’s character and sovereign wisdom hem
my life, as His responsibility.
No wrong will steal my true identity,
whatever slips or schemes might spill from men.
Christ’s Ruler over all, but do I let
Him fully reign as Master in my heart?
Do I acknowledge I’m His work of art
and purpose for His hammers, chisels get?
Intimacy and glory are the friends
to which His sanctifying lessons point
and meld together as love’s dovetail joint
whenever I surrender to these ends.
Soul, set your hope on grace to be revealed.
Entrust to God strain’s mysteries still sealed.
LORD, HELP! Why is my mind so distracted?
And why then, letting it be drawn away
for half an hour, am I now okay
to let my compulsions be retracted?
Give in to let go feels like solution,
but know it only deepens the desire
for later curiosity‘s inquire—
grants no satisfying resolution.
Those thirty minutes mindfulness was lost,
yet could it be empowered by the fall,
as I look closer inside to recall
that giving way to habit bears great cost?
I won‘t grow discouraged by the setback
but seek to further understand self‘s lack.
Low-pitched, humming anxiousness was sitting
all day inside my torso‘s cavity.
Mindful sensing lent no gravity
to coax the stubborn squatter through outwitting.
Head was tired from too little sleeping,
so frankly seemed to coast and just make do.
Soul felt no fresh excitement by woods‘ view
and lacked bright energy for much guard keeping.
One moral of this story is night‘s rest
must become priority for healing.
Otherwise this shaky default feeling
will grow into another panicked crest.
Though it‘s no excuse to say I‘m tired,
it‘s clear reformed sleep habits are required.
Changing what’s practical opens a door
to transforming what’s spiritual, mental
and emotionally experiential.
Habit alterations might well restore
enough equilibrium of body,
restfulness, clarity, reason and time
to give me needed aid to better climb
above oppressive moods, both low and haughty.
“Early to bed, early to rise...”could be
one thing to make a world of difference
and welcome back some simple common sense,
to open up new space for setting free.
But for that discipline to take effect,
I’ll also have to curb the internet!
Every opportunity for worry
is greater opportunity to trust
that God behind the scenes is sanding rust
from parts of me where fear has made faith blurry.
Without unknowing-gusts to stir the pit
of nervousness inside my helplessness,
I might ne‘er seek my Shepherd‘s faithfulness
nor learn to wait on Him and with Him sit.
These are times of richest growing lessons
when I‘m reminded He is LORD, not me,
and that He works to draw in int‘macy
feeble souls to Him through stretching sessions.
Joy is knowing sure—head, heart and will—
He‘s ever whisp‘ring, “Child, come closer still.“
Recapping basic steps to take thus far:
Find sleep (which may mean need for melatonin
to counteract my haywire serotonin),
and overuse of internet I‘ll bar.
Then with restfulness bring mindful thinking—
keen noticing that‘s graced with gratitude
and sets a stronger skyward attitude,
buoys me up against fret‘s downward sinking.
More important still is meditation
upon the word of God‘s indicatives
which lay foundations for imperatives
to follow as prescriptive medication.
Most crucial element preventing fall
is fix my eyes on Jesus through it all!
(I — XIX)
(** — XXXII)
9/22/21 — 9/29/21