February 1, 2021 |
Mayo Clinic defines whiplash as “a neck injury due to forceful rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” Many of us have experienced how painful whiplash can be. It often shows up, unbidden, after the initial impact. The physical damage heals over time but often requires medical assistance. Life can feel like that. Events happen so rapidly, in succession, that they “piggy-back” each other. Before you have fully processed one change, another unknown knocks at your door. Leaving the door shut is not an option. Because when multiple demands happen simultaneously, the door is forcibly opened… ready or not. Open-ended dramas & traumas know no boundaries. Without warning, you find yourself dead center in a muddled mess. Though you Though we can see the obvious externals, there is not a guaranteed way to prepare for the internal warring that accompanies sudden upheaval.
Emotional whiplash is how I would describe a broken, over-wrought soul (heart). This unseen dynamic is deeply spiritual and equally as painful, if not more so, than its physical counterpart. We may recognize the rapid back-and-forth emotions from the circumstances that cause the pain. But we are rarely in control of the strength or frequency that results in the emotional struggle. This is where I found myself, again, on January 1, 2021. I was hoping & praying for a reprieve from the losses in 2020. And it was a year of loss for most everyone, in one way or another. It was 12 months of, “Nobody knows but Jesus,” at our house. It’s true. Because share as you may, no human being can see you from the inside out. That is God’s territory. He is the only life-changing heart-healer.
My foreboding, that day, could not prepare me for the notification I received. My last “older woman influencer” was dying from covid-19. Without warning, I felt physically affected & emotionally devastated. And I found myself wrapped in that suffocating feeling where you don’t know what to do with yourself. (Are you tracking with me?) “No-o-o-o-o, Lord! Not again! Not now. Not Rosemary.” And I cried. She was my spiritual Mom, my sister in Christ, & my friend…for 30 years. She was also the 4th “family” member that we lost in a seven-month time frame. With each exiting presence, life felt emptier. And I instantly felt lonelier. Those were the painful realities that assaulted my senses. It was not that I would wish any one of the 4 loved ones back to their suffering days on earth. This was about losing tangible, supportive relationships. And it felt like too many, too soon. It left me wandering around in my soul. (Know the feeling?) All total, the challenges in 2020 busted down my heart’s door & rolled into 2021.
One morning, a few weeks later, I read a devotional about God’s gift of rest for our souls. (Matt.11:28&29) This is not a new concept to me. Christ’s victory IS our resting place. But the reading resurrected an acronym that I sent to my daughter, years ago, when she was away at school. At the time, God gave me R-elaxed, E-ffortless, S-imple, T-rust to calm her anxious heart in her new surroundings. It has come back home to nest in my soul more times than I can count. On this specific morning, I wrote, “I guess I just don’t know how to lay my burdens down. I don’t know how to stay resting. God help me! How is it that something given as a gift feels so difficult to unwrap & enjoy?” Long story short, I studied the verses in Matthew, as well as those found in Hebrews 4:9-12; 15&16. I looked up original meanings as I went. Only in the Truth of God’s Word can something so familiar be refreshingly new in the need of the moment! As Spurgeon said, “You are heavy laden…but if you come to Him, He will unload you (I love that!) …the rest He will give you will be deep, safe, holy, & everlasting. His rest develops into heaven & He gives it this day to all who come to Him.” His answer is unchanging because He is unchanging. It started at the Cross & brought full circle at the empty tomb. My part is to simply keep coming.
Rosemary’s passing also reminded that God’s purpose for me is not done. Perhaps I can be an influencer in someone else’s life, even when I don’t know it…even if I don’t know them… even when it seems I’m not even making a small dent. My focus should be to seek Him & not results. Brother Andrew defines the ministry of Open Doors, by this verse: “Wake up & strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.” (Rev. 3:2) Though many of the folks I have loved & “lost” are gone from this world physically, part of the work God did, through them, remains in me. They have imprinted my life for eternity. I want to follow their examples of never giving up no matter how things look. Because I’m still alive, my work is not done.
If you have had your own defining whiplash experience, I would love to hear about it. Some things bear repeating for the encouragement of others. Our testimonies in daily living give glory to Whom glory is due…to God alone. Who doesn’t need to hear uplifting Words? While navigating the waves of uncertain change, & living in the midst of tumultuous times, I know I do. <3