Lately it occurred to me that I have been struggling against life. Not one particular strife but life in general and not a huge struggle but large enough to prevent me from doing what I need to do. I can get myself all tangled up in thoughts: Why do I get so overworked over something that in the long run doesn't mean anything? And then I get worked up for getting worked up. Why can I not be content? Why do I waste time by wasting my time worrying and kvetching over things I cannot control? I feel like a protagonist in a Woody Allen movies - so much angst and mental turmoil over nothing.
As is many things, I learn about life through the life of our dogs. I see how our dogs behave and I realize that I am doing the same in a human way.
They loathe getting a bath, especially Marley. If he sees his littermate being carted down stairs, collar taken off and hears the water running, he will hide behind the nearest chair. Something that should only take a few minutes (they are small dogs after all) can be extended for seemingly hours and can result in water going everywhere. Once he gets "caught" from his hiding place, he squirms, tries to get out of the stationary tub, and in general makes it very difficult with his struggling. If he would just relax and let me give him the bath, the process would be so much easier and I think he would even find it enjoyable.
Looking back on the meandering path of my life choices, I see all the times that I tried running away and hiding or struggled in my situation. Some times I seemed to have control over my path's direction and other times I found myself on a path not of my choosing. Sometimes my response to life's choices was influenced by the calm or frenetic response of others while other times I felt that I couldn't help myself in my response. Either way, it is my choice on how I respond. I may not have control over the direction but I do have control on how I travel in that direction.
Lately I just felt a sense of peace, calm and understanding. I can relate to the Hebrew wisdom, "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." When I feel the anxiety bubbling up and taking over, I think of Jesus' words, "...do not be anxious about your life." In fact Jesus has a fair amount to say about anxiety/ worry and it involves all aspects of our lives: our physical possessions and our emotional/spiritual well-being.
I realized that it is all about relaxing and not struggling with the hand that is dealt us. It is such a waste of time. I think of how many lessons that I had to revisit because I wasn't listening or understanding due to my squirming and whining, "Why is this happening? It is not fair." "Why? Why? Why?" It seemed that all my wrestling with God involved "not getting what I think I deserve". Thank goodness for God's mercy and that I do not get what I deserve. Jesus reminds us that all we need to do is seek the Kingdom of God and everything else will fall into place.
Looking back I realize so many times I just didn't get it. At the time, the things that caused me to be all hot and bothered have not been significant at all. They are just distant and fleeting thoughts. I am painfully aware of this when I meet extended family members or distant friends. They might ask me how is so and so or how is the situation? I have to furrow my brow and think back, "What are they talking about?" Situations that, at the time, seemed so important are relegated to the recesses of my mind.
What about you? Do you worry over your worry? Is your life filled with angst? Looking back, what were some of your concerns- 10 years ago? 5 years ago? 1 year ago? Do you remember what it was? What can you do to be content? What are you seeking?
I pray that I am entering a new stage. A stage where I can just relax and enjoy where I am, what I am doing and with whom. I am actively trying to be present for all that I am doing. Which is what Jesus is saying with His wisdom in Matthew 6.
All the angst, all the worry and the extra worry of the original worry have done nothing in helping me achieve any goals. It just prolongs the agony and makes a huge mess.
Just like Marley's bath.