Friday, February 21, 2014

"Like a circle in a spiral…."

"Like a circle in a spiral,
like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning
in an ever-spinning reel..."

This hauntingly beautiful version of Alan and Marilyn Bergman's 1968 classic, "The Windmills of Your Mind," by Barbra Streisand leaves me speechless. For this song so closely mirrors how it felt. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In my late teens and early 20s a series of tragic events left me feeling as if my well-planned future was no longer my own. I felt as if all I'd come to count on had been yanked out from under me. And even though I may have seemed to be rolling with the punches on the outside -- on the inside, I was spinning out of control. I was terrified.

I needed to find my ground. But the landscape was foreign. I felt a quiet desperation roiling within. It was like being chased in a dream, but not being able to scream. I didn't know where to turn. Everything I had grown to trust -- hard work, obedience, patience, even God -- seemed to have let me down or disappeared. So I turned to what I knew -- patterns of order and repetition. It was the one thing I felt I could control. Keeping things tidy, and being hyper-vigilant in my habits and pursuits felt soothing. I made lists -- of everything. I had routines -- for everything.

One day, a work colleague -- who also happened to be the school psychologist -- casually observed that I always repeated the same series of steps while carrying out a task. She casually accused me of being obsessive and compulsive. But there was nothing casual about it for me. From that point on, she would just say, "O.C.D." whenever she saw me trying to control my environment or self-soothe through repetitive or perseverant behaviors. She thought it was a bit crazy, but endearing. I felt exposed and vulnerable. But again, I coped by trying to hide the behaviors under the cloak of a love for "order."

When I returned to the study and practice of Christian Science, I prayed deeply for freedom from what I had come to accept as a case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I'd vacillate between feeling truly free of the anxiety that seemed to trigger my need for control, and a blind self-justification for my odd routines and peculiar habits. Citing the rigorous personal demands of thought-leaders I admired brought little comfort. I was ashamed of my frantic need for control, yet couldn't seem to live without it.

Then one afternoon I was reading a paragraph from the "Preface" of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It was one that I'd loved deeply from early childhood:

"The physical healing of Christian Science results now,
as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle,
before which sin and disease
lose their reality in human consciousness
and disappear as naturally and as necessarily
as darkness gives place to light
and sin to reformation.
Now, as then, these mighty works
are not supernatural, but supremely natural.
The are the sign of Immanuel, or "God with us,"
-- a divine influence ever present in human consciousness
and repeating itself..."

Something shifted in my heart. For the first time in years I wasn't fighting the anxiety. I glimpsed that I didn't need to hypnotically repeat behaviors to soothe my anxiety. I didn't need to perseverate. I didn't need patterns to assure me that things were under control. Truth was repeating Itself, Truth was asserting Its control in my life, Truth would persevere without my help, Truth would insist, Truth would not let go.

Trusting in the active, ever-operative presence of Truth started to bring peace in ways that I'd never felt before. Whenever I would begin to feel frantic and need to self-soothe, I would remind myself that I could trust that God was with me as:

"…a divine influence ever present in human consciousness
repeating itself, coming now as was promise...."

Truth -- God -- is insistent, demanding, relentless, untiring, determined, perseverant, importunate, relentless, continuous, perpetual, incessant in Her love for each of us. She whispers,

"Peace, be still..." 

to our hearts. She is an alert Mother who never loses sight of her children. She is tireless and watchful of us and knows our need. She urges us to rest in Her Love. And because I love Her, I trust her. Isn't this the most perfect expression of love -- to trust and be trusted.

By giving those qualities of repetitiveness, persistence, perseverance back to God, I found my freedom from the identifying them as "mine" -- as negative features of a personality separate from God.

I am so deeply grateful. It wasn't about destroying or fixing a broken me, but realizing that, as John promises in the book of Revelation:

"The kingdoms of this world,
are become the kingdoms of our God
and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever."

The control was never mine to lose. Taking it back was not the answer -- trusting God was. She holds us, like a circle in a spiral.

shared with affection,


[photo of Jess and Ava Norsic by Jason Norsic]

1 comment:

  1. "Thought Gently Whispers..." has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.