Saturday, August 20, 2016

Those Pesky Little Foxes

I have experienced the legitimate, bonefide excuses for sadness... Death, handicapped child, betrayal, broken relationship, emergency surgery, and beyond. But, right in this moment I admit I feel terrible for being weak dealing with tiny matters.

I'm not homeless. In fact, I'm writing this from my favorite rocking chair on my porch in the most picturesque part of Florida. I've been the queen of this house for over twenty years. Meanwhile, I have dear friends, acquaintances, and strangers in Louisiana who are utterly (suddenly) homeless due to last week's flooding. 

I live in a town of less than three thousand, and though we have race issues to work out, we don't have anything like the pain and destruction happening in Milwaukee, or some of the bigger cities experiencing such hate and hostility.

I am healthy and strong, full of vitality. I'm able to take care of myself, my kids, and my possessions. Unlike some of my friends who are dealing with incredible pain and weaknesses due to life-threatening illnesses. 

So, right at this moment I do not have a leviathan of trouble smashing my life. Right now, I'm dealing with a bunch of little foxes.

We read about the danger of "little foxes" in Solomon's Song, chapter two, verse fifteen. It is clear the speaker is speaking symbolically, saying, "Let us catch the little foxes that spoil the vine."

The "little foxes" are emblems of that which would damage their love relationship. The idea is that their relationship is like a fruitful vineyard and the little foxes will damage the vineyard unless they are stopped and caught.

Life is full of little foxes. They could be named Bills, or Political Opinions, or Growing ToDo List, or Kids Drum Lesson, or I'm Not Pretty, or [Insert Yours Here]. These little foxes can come upon your life that is fruitful, productive, contributing to your community. They buzz about like mosquitos distracting you from the confidence of knowing you are indeed fruitful. These little foxes begin to devour your harvest. Little foxes are not to be tolerated. 

There is a cure and elimination for little foxes; "Us."

"Let US catch the foxes..."

You need a partner to catch the little foxes. The foxes are not willing recipients to the idea that they can't have the fruit of your life. They are fast, quick-tempered, and can be quite painful! But they're NOT to be tolerated. If you're married, perhaps your spouse will help you round up, and cast out the little foxes from your vineyard. Married or not, sometimes a spouse doesn't see the need to prioritize ridding one's life of little foxes. Perhaps they're too frazzled with their own foxes to be a help to you. (Though I believe some spiritual counsel would help each spouse see how to help each other in this task. Que sera sera.) It's good to know the church has prayer partners and counsellors to help you catch the little foxes. 

Catching the little foxes sometimes means literally casting out unnecessary tasks from your ToDo list. If you've overpacked your list you're shooting your success in the foot. If your appearance is causing you distress then you're focusing too much on superficial matters and you need to move your focus to production and creativity. (Don't forget, not even the models look like what you're seeing online, or in magazines. We literally CAN'T compete with photoshop. Period.) Whatever things are causing you anxiety, you need to reevaluate their priority. 

I remember being incredibly stressed to the point that it shook my self-confidence and creative abilities over my laundry. I felt like such a loser, even though I was writing for thousands, singing to thousands, fulfilling life-goals in spades. Because I had laundry on my couch I felt a total unproductive, lazy loser! Then it dawned on me that my eleven and thirteen year old kids could do their own laundry! I also took it off my list that the clothes had to be folded. (I know. I just sent a thousand Personality A's to the floor with that concept.) But reprioritizimg laundry, and making the task doable made a HUGE difference in the production of my life's vine. I caught that fox and expelled him from my vineyard! 

Never forget, that whether or not you have a spouse who will help you catch the little foxes, or whether friends can or can't help you does not lessen your ability to partner with someone to eliminate the little foxes; Jesus is a ready (and most powerful) help in your efforts to eliminate the little foxes. 

Do not think your little fox problem is too insignificant for His Majesty. He delights in being asked to help you eliminate the little foxes.

You can do this! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Remembering Where To Cast

I think I might have the world's worst memory. I can't even remember the lyrics to my own songs that I've written! Of course, being in a congregation that posts the words overhead to better help the congregation engage in singing hasn't helped reinforce memorization. When I need to remember something about music I contact my friends Angel Craig and Lisa Plappert. When I need to remember something about my childhood, I contact Shawn Hughes. When I need to remember something about church business, past, present, or future, I contact Donald Currie. These people have impeccable memories! Thank goodness I have them in my life, or I'd be sunk! 

There is at least one area of failed remembrance that I've found most humans match me in, we forget where to cast our cares. We instinctually cast our burdens on the one we sense is closest to us. While that should be God, just as the posted lyrics have weakened my memorization ability, humans that we've been blessed with sometimes cause us to not allow Christ to be as near as he's suppose to be. These humans meant to be a blessing in life, be they a spouse, or roommate, a friend, or family, end up a source of pain simply because we're trying to use them in ways they weren't meant to be used. 

In general, women tend to deal more with anxieties than men. It's not that women have more to carry than a man, it's that women are more likely to multitask, giving them the ability to fester in their worries while juggling typical, daily stressors. Men tend to do ONE thing at a time, therefore they worry, but when they have to be at work, they are more inclined to shelve their worry until they're free to think about it again. This isn't healthy for any of us, male or female. While we may become more and more skilled at shelving an anxiety, the anxiety is still there, unresolved, just waiting.

Women tend to want the help of other humans to fix their anxiety. Men tend to want to fix the matter themselves. Yet again, either way is not the purest solution. I can't reveal the reasoning of frustration in men's behavior, but as a woman I can easily say that women stack more anxiety on themselves when they encounter the consistent inability of friends and family to listen or fix. Women get angry (or depressed, or resentful, or any other number of negative reactions) when someone listens but doesn't fix their problem. Men compound the issue by deciding to avoid even listening because they know they won't be allowed to fix it in the end. 

Spouses stew in resentment. 
Friends ignore each other. 
Peers become critical from their determined distances. 

All along the fix doesn't have flesh and blood. The cure can't be seen by the naked eye. The relief we crave comes from turning our attention away from flawed humanity and fixing our eyes on Jesus. 

Jesus said for us to cast our anxieties on Him.

If we see prayer as an unemotional religious ritual, then of course we won't remember to cast our cares on him. If prayer is a duty rather than a fellowship, then we have put a hole in our boat before setting sail and will experience the panic of drowning in the weight of life.

We may reach out to a fellow passenger in our storms of life, but we can't become filled with bitterness when they themselves can't help us. After all, they are merely passengers in the storm as well! But the Master of the winds and waves lives above the sickening storm. He alone can rescue us. 

We must be thankful for and gain health from the friends around us, but we must prioritize the fellowship of Christ. His ear is the only perfect listener, & His hand is the only perfect fixer.

Remember where to cast your cares. 
Cast your worries and anxieties on Christ. He's a miracle worker!