Sunday, March 27, 2011

"The battle is fought in the mind, but won in the spirit"

When I first read this quote (forgive me, but I can't remember who the author was), I was in my mid-teens and it was in a book about spiritual warfare and the power of prayer and faith over evil. I don't discount that now and still believe that prayer and faith are integral to our success in battling the awful things which occur in our world. But if for a moment, I take it out of the context the author intended and put it in purely human terms instead of in the light of a battle between good and evil, it provides a different perspective that I can appreciate after having lived a few more years. I'll attempt to explain my thoughts, but please don't take this as something to argue about or debate, they are just my musings and I'm not looking to make any kind of huge theological statement here, so indulge me, if you would. :-)

Lately, the song "Tub Thumping" has been going through my head (the chorus specifically) with the repetition of "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down". And though I often wish I was a weeble that wobbles, but doesn't fall down, I can say with absolute certainty, that I do fall down...and much more often than I’d like. The good news is that I don't allow myself to stay there for too long. I get back up again...though occasionally it is tempting to sit there and just consider giving up. The fascinating part about this is that when this happens to me, these are not life and death situations, though I guess for some, they could become that way. So when I look at the things that knock me on my butt the most, I realize that they aren't really the "big issues" like losing one of our best friends to cancer, or getting David through colon cancer, or moving across the country because we lost so much of what we had built and had to start over...those things, though difficult, did not require a lot of battling in my mind. I saw the situations for what they were, made decisions to deal with them as needed and moved on. It's not the big things that cause me trip over myself and plant my face into the's the other stuff, the voices I hear in my head every day...the ones that no matter how old I get, still can sometimes create havoc in my psyche.

And yes, I do hear voices…I believe we all do in a way. Let me explain. Sometimes they are from our when someone older than you yelled something at you in anger like, “you’re an embarrassment”, “you’re worthless, you’ll never amount to anything and no one would ever want you” or “you only care about yourself because you are nothing but selfish” or some such nonsense.

Sometimes they are from when you are older, “hey, thunder thighs”, “she’s not worth it, but check out her friend”, “she’s a weirdo or a freak because of ”. And it doesn’t stop there. Often, we will find ourselves most affected by those we care for, love and trust the most, and might hear from our child “I hate you, mommy, you don’t love me” or from our spouse, “it doesn’t matter how much I try to make you happy, you are never satisfied” which can quickly turn us to thoughts that we are unwanted or unlovable to even those whose opinions and goodwill we value the most.

So something happens where I mess up and I hear these voices…not necessarily saying the same things above, but in some cases, they do. And I begin to get pushed down inside…like I’m worthless, like I can’t say the right things…do the right things…be the right way (“right” being relative at the time based on any number of scenarios). And then I panic…

When I panic, things start to swirl out of control in my mind and I quickly begin to try to control the rising tide of emotions…and the battle begins. I find myself sinking further down and can easily find other reasons why I’m not good enough or should have done things differently. I run through every possible scenario and decide that I’m the reason something, or in my mind, everything, failed…and THAT is my battle, and THAT is what makes it hard to get back up. If I allow my mind to continue down this route, then I am frozen emotionally, until I can climb back out (my husband and I often call this the “pit of despair” for you Princess Bride fans out there). That is the battle in my mind…and this is where “spirit” comes in.

What is “spirit”? Specifically, in this context, let me define it as “will” (and I hope my religious friends are not offended by this reference). Do I let these things which may have hurt me once, continue to hurt me years later when they really have nothing to do with reality now? Do I allow myself to continue swirling down the whirlpool of emotion, or do I stop it? My spirit gets restless inside me…and I have to make a choice….do I continue to “battle in my mind”…or do I choose to “win in my spirit” by remembering what is really important instead of listening to the voices in my head that keep telling me I’m failing?

So far, I choose to “win” and pull myself back up again and my “will” (spirit) wins the battle in my mind. I don’t have this completely down…and I may never really stop myself from hearing those voices that seem to ring so true to me when I get knocked down…but I keep getting up again. For those of you who have known me a long time and know my faith, I’m not saying this from a theological standpoint or making a statement that I can handle things better than God. I’m saying that we have tools even in our humanness to help us get through those things that can keep us from taking the next steps. That even though there will always be battles in our mind about something…that we also have the ability to stop them in our “human” spirit just like we can say “no” to buying that candy bar at the checkout counter. It’s a matter of choice and then the action to move on and start again. And though the battles may never end, we have the choice to keep moving on.

by Andrea Whitaker Tucker on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 6:02pm

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