CAUGHT IN THE LOOP
Today my thoughts got stuck in a loop! “Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows!” This old ditty came to mind as I was thinking about what to write in this post….and I couldn’t get rid of it! So, I took a moment to search out the origin. (You really CAN find anything on the internet!) It seems that this may have originated with carnivals, or vaudeville acts and was used to describe any variety of spinning wheel games of chance or risky behaviors – like knife throwing!
There’s a subtle spiritual principle that we should look at here. Have you ever had an “aha moment” and realized that your thoughts were going round and round and getting nowhere? Sometimes it feels rather like a merry-go-round! Your brain has hopped onto one of those painted horses, running in a circle, going nowhere, but always covering the same territory and reaching the same conclusion!
In a daily devotional called “Jesus Calling” I recently read the following:
“Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way! I will strengthen you and prepare you for this day, transforming your fear into confident trust.”
This was a new thought for me. Every time I rehearse the same situation over in my brain several things are happening. First, that thought pattern is grooving a path in my brain that becomes more entrenched the more often I recall the situation, the conversation, the experience. And second, if it was a painful experience, the pain is repeated every time I take this thought path because memories are stored with emotions! By thinking about something over and over, I’m increasing the amount of emotional pain and suffering that I experience –something God doesn’t want for me!
For those of us who are widows, this becomes particularly relevant. We tend to relive (or retell) those last months, weeks, days, or final moments with our spouses. It occurred to me one day after Dave was gone that God never intended for us to experience death at all. We were created originally for eternal life. But the Bible tells us that when sin entered, then death also entered….death to the spirit and the body both. So, we often find ourselves thinking and reliving that most painful time in our life over and over and over – experiencing the death many more times than we should. In effect, we prolong our suffering!
As I thought about this, I wondered why I tend to relive those last days with Dave. Even though I know he is with the Lord, remembering that time of his dying does not lead me to a place of joy! It’s generally accompanied by feelings of sadness, loss, trauma, and grief. So, why do we tend to dwell in this place? Are we hoping for a different ending to the story? Are we simply trying to hold onto his memory? How do I break into the loop to change the narrative that is part of my story?
There’s an interesting medical procedure that demonstrates this concept in a very practical way. It’s called a cardiac ablation, and it is used to interrupt and redirect the electrical impulse in the heart that signals it to beat. This procedure is often done when someone is suffering with arrhythmia. Dave’s electro-cardiologist explained it in simple terms for me as a “welding job in the heart”. The specific cluster of cells producing the impulse to the heart doesn’t signal properly. Thus, the heart begins to beat faster and faster, sometimes resulting in death. A cardiac ablation allows the surgeon to identify the errant cell cluster, and create scar tissue that breaks the circuit, thus allowing the heartbeat to return to normal.
I believe that sometimes it becomes necessary for me to allow God to create some healthy scar tissue in my memories! There are many scriptures about our thoughts, including II Corinthians 10:5 which instructs us to take every thought captive. When we catch ourselves dwelling on our loss and reliving it over and over, we can interrupt that signal and redirect our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 gives us a wonderful list of things we can choose to think on instead.
The bottom line of this conversation is that we need to be defined by our present, not our past. We can spend the rest of our life dwelling on what we’ve lost, or we can open our hearts to what God still has ahead for us. This is true when we come to Christ for salvation, and it’s also true when we come to Him with our loss. I encourage you today to allow Him to interrupt your suffering, to change your thought patterns, and to begin to make everything new for you!
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome, and you can reach me at email@example.com.