Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fighting flashbacks with flashbacks

is not a good idea. It doesn't work at all long term. I'll explain.

Yesterday devolved into one long flashback, a daydream that kept repeating, degrading into a continually worsening scenario with each repitition, deeper and deeper into shame and rejection as it played out my fears and previous experiences in allegorical fashion over and over again. Of course, not eating all day didn't help one bit, but there never seemed to be a good time to take a break and nowhere to go eat and I really didn't deserve a rest because I needed to work harder because I'm so lazy anyway and ...you know how it goes, right?

This morning, it being Saturday and no need to rush out of bed, I started looking for the song playing in my head upon waking. After a long search on my computer and being drug thru several unwanted emotional states as I played other songs instead, I realized that my mother used to use music to fight her emotional flashbacks when I was a child. She would put on gospel albums and sing all Saturday morning, sometimes she felt better, a lot of the times it just wasn't enough. She was trying to use the feeling she got from worship music and her memory of being saved as a child to fight the never ending conflict and feelings she had from her poor self image and ego conflicts.

I've used music in similar ways, sometimes to induce a shame flashback - remember how awful I was, feel miserable about it, be crushed and grieve, sleep it off and firmly resolve to not be myself anymore. I'll become someone Much better in the morning. You know. I've also used worship music to fight off despair, after all, God loves me and wants to make my life better, and tomorrow is another day. Right, Scarlett?

Either way, fighting a cascade of emotions with a cascade of emotions never changes me. Mostly, it just fills up my time, drains my energy, and then I go back to being the same way I was before.  

If you're a Christian with any experience in the church house, you've heard quite a bit of preaching about emotional flashbacks, although you might not have realized it at the time. Basically, the teaching is that if you are feeling bad all the time, or if you are feeling bad about feeling bad, then you should apologize to God for feeling bad, worship or sing to God a sad song then three happy songs [cue the piano player to come up now] until you feel better, then you are all better, now go out and remember to not Feel Bad about that anymore.  (This may be the Protestant experience only, I think the Catholics may have more fun in between condemnations, but don't quote me on that.)

Don't get me wrong, I luuuuv Christian music - the hymns, the choruses, the antiphons, the doxologies - and I love all of the scripture that is the basis for them. I would not be here today without those truths and the melodic way so much of it was communicated into me. Some of them are so filled with solid doctrine I can almost feel my spiritual bones become stronger with every line, much like eating collard greens and fried chicken livers make my natural bones stronger with every bite. [Mmmm, I'm actually drooling now...collard greens with little bits of ham hock and maybe a boiled egg chopped up in there...mmmm. Ahem!] 

HOWEVER, hymns or worship music, or any music that makes you feel better, is not a substitute for understanding the truth about your family, yourself, your friends, and your circumstances. Jesus famously said one time, "...you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It's the truth you know that makes you free. The Bible speaks the truth all the time, but it doesn't spell out every single thing that is true. It's a particular Message to the whole world, but there are a zillion things about each one of us that aren't in there, and some of us need to straighten out a bunch of the lies we've believed about ourselves and our little world around us to walk free.

Don't settle for good feelings for a day or a season when doing the work of uncovering and believing the truth is available. Spirituality is not superior to mentality or physicality, God created us to have all three, we are not whole without them all, intact and operating together in integrity. Go ahead and use every mental, physical, and spiritual tool, exercise, and counsel available to heal your thinking and your feelings will respond likewise. 

I've also heard it said that "healing is the dinner bell of the church." You'll not call many to the table until you are healed and whole yourself, so go ahead and be smaller, know less, forget what should have been and become strong enough to be found fit for service. Them collards ain't gonna pick themselves, y'know, and there's a whole world out there hungry for the truth.




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