Running Out of Options

My brain is shutting down. There is too much to process. My brain has stopped nicely filing every chaotic event into manila folders, to be processed and digested, and has started throwing papers into the air, lighting a match and burning them all.

Where do you even begin to process? Things are in chaos everywhere. The chaos is effecting our households, our work places, our community, our province, nation and world.

The overwhelm is real. My community has been ravaged by wildfires all summer. None have effected us directly, but our community has had their teeth on edge all summer. The smokey skies have blocked out our iconic summer sunshine for the majority of the last two months. Grey, socked in, lung choking smoke has taken the place of our tourist-drawing weather. Large neighbourhoods have been on evacuation mandates for months, only to return to piles of ash to call a home.

The pandemic is becoming the nagging house guest that wont leave, eating all your food, tracking mud into the house, and never replacing the role of toilet paper in the bathroom. You scream and beg for them to leave, but they just sit on the couch, staring at you while eating all your snacks, making a mess of the couch and carpet and continue binge watching the cringe-worthy reality shows at top volume. You’re told this is your new living situation and there is no escaping it until the powers that be come and collect this guest out of your home.

There are nations literally fighting for their lives as flood waters swallow their town, earthquakes demolish their villages, volcanos erupt, hurricanes and tornados rip through and snow storms hit areas that don’t even sell winter tires. Drought sucks up the only remaining water left in reservoirs, and farmers are forced to sell livestock they can no longer feed. Refugees are so desperate to flee their country, they are willing to try sitting on the outside of a jet as it takes off on a runway.

Too much yet? I haven’t even mentioned the locust plauges.

If you’re sill reading this I image your brain is also ready to toss the papers into the air. How do you even process any of this?

I was speaking with a friend recently and we talked about our desire to just be home. Sounds ironic after the ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’ home quarantines. A new forest fire was burning visible from our work and we both felt out of place being in the office. Like when the power would go out as a child and everyone would gather into one room to play a boardgame by candle light, I desired to be home, gathered with a community and hunkering down, waiting for it all to be over.

Our need for safety and security is being challenged on all sides right now. We have lived in an extremely safe and predictable world for quite some time. But that all changed, seemingly overnight. The feeling of mental and emotional shut-down is the real ‘new normal’ as we harden up to the vulnerability of it all. We no longer feel safe, we no longer feel normal, but we don’t know what to feel, so we choose to feel nothing.

The human mind, body and spirit is a very fragile thing. Though we spend many ways building up our strengths, we are actually quite breakable. Strength is not always found in the building up, but in the acknowledgement of the ease in which you can be torn down, the acknowledgement of your weaknesses.

In truth, we are not meant to be the strong ones. We are meant to rely on Christ to be our strength. I heard this spoken so many times, but it was not something I even understood until I was taken to the absolute limitations of myself, leaving me weak and desperate. In that place of utter helplessness, dropping my arms to my sides and hanging my head in complete submission, did I finally allow Christ to carry me and be my strength.

God was the reason I was able to get through the day. I could not start a day without physically crying to him to help me. At the end of the day I would be amazed that I had done it, rather he had done it. Comparing my end of day state to my morning self, I knew it was not my strength that had pulled me through.

The reality is we don’t need God. In 2019 life was good. We had it all figured out, plans, visions, and nothing to stop us but our own self doubts. But don’t worry, can’t manifesting change that around? Supply chains were running as smooth as butter and whatever you wanted was at your finger tips. Unless you were going through a crisis, and if you were, you were probably the only one for miles experiencing such things, pre-2020 life was great. Who needs a God in all that?

Right now people are turning to lots of things for options of relief. A vaccine (this post is not about vaccine debate, so please don’t comment on that), an election, stocking up resources to hedge against vulnerabilities, changing the whole climate of the earth and literally taking to the streets in mobs.

I’m going to spoil the ending for you. None of this will work. Some of it might work for a while, but ultimately you will still have to get up and look at yourself in the mirror. Eventually you will come to realize that your instability and vulnerability is within you.

We will all be brought to a place, one way or another, to face the inadequacies of ourselves. We will be brought face to face with our own weaknesses, realizing our strength is no longer enough to sustain us. Once the strength of other people or plans also fail us, we may then eventually look to God as our strength. The one who knows the beginning from the end. The one who knows us so intimately, that when we are ready to go to him in our weaknesses, he will meet us with such individualized grace and compassion that only we will be able to identify that it is his goodness meeting us in that moment.

God does not desire us to go through bad things, but he does desire his bride to return to himself. Only how can we return if we don’t realize we have wandered away? Feeling afraid, anxious, overwhelmed, scared? You have wandered. Don’t know what to do or how to fix it? You have wandered. Running out of options? You have wandered.

Christ is no longer our first choice, he has become the last choice. And thus, we must be faced with every choice, being given the option to choose and being allowed to realize it is not the solution to our inward struggle. At any point throughout this journey we have the freedom to choose Christ, to choose the way out of our pain and insecurities.

There is peace to be had. There is joy to be had. There is grace to be had. But it’s your choice to concisely choose this. God does not promise to rescue us from our pain and troubles. Better than that, he promises to meet us in the midst of pain and troubles. He promises us that he will be with us, Immanuel.

I don’t know how this all plays out or how it will end. But I do know that the best and closest relationship I have experienced with God was during the worst season of my life. I drew near to him and he did not disappoint.

Feeling afraid, anxious, overwhelmed, scared? God will bring peace and rest.

Don’t know what to do or how to fix it? God will settle your spirit and direct your steps.

If you want to know more about how God met me in the struggle, you can check out my book on Amazon. You can see that as a shameless plug, or a story to read in the midst of your struggle that can provide you with empathy and hope.

You’re not alone in this.

Purchase Steady in the Storm, a telling of Shonah’s personal journey, on Amazon

Purchase Shonah’s latest book, Being Tenacious, a devotional for those in the midst of storms


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