She felt trapped.
She wasn’t, really.
But I could not convince her, no matter what I did.
In fact, the reason she felt trapped was my doing. For her protection.
9-year old cats and 2-year old boys aren’t always the best mix.
And a 2-year old friend was on his way for a visit.
So before he arrived, I put her, 9-year old Lucy, her sister, Liza, some toys, and their food in the same room as the litter box. And then I put a baby gate in the doorway.
I thought it was brilliant. Cats can go in and out by jumping the gate, 2-year old visitor can’t go in.
Safe haven for the furry “girls”, safety for the boy.
And my brilliant idea was based on fact. I have seen both Liza and Lucy jump 5 feet to catch a moth or a fly. So clearing a 2-and-a-half foot gate should have been no problem.
Lucy even watched her sister do it successfully.
But the baby gate stopped her.
For a long time she wouldn’t even try.
She laid down on the floor beside the gate and just looked at me.
Her eyes said, “Why, oh why are you doing this to me?”
I called her by name. I shook the treat container. And finally I gave up. My company was on the way and the cat had what she needed – she just wasn’t enjoying the freedom that she could have had if only she would make the effort.
I often feel trapped.
I am not really.
But I cannot seem to convince myself otherwise.
My emotions are often a barrier.
Or they seem that way to me.
I can’t stop worrying. I know Jesus said to not worry – but that scenario keeps running and re-running in my head. So I wallow in worry.
I can’t forgive. I know Jesus commanded it – but I keep hearing those hurtful words, keep re-living those painful circumstances in my head. So I wallow in unforgiveness.
I am scared. I know Jesus said, “Fear not” but surely he didn’t mean in 2016, in the age of nuclear stuff, Isis-stuff, Iran-stuff, election-year-stuff, etc. etc. So I wallow in fear.
I am lonely. I know Jesus said He is always with me but I can’t touch him or give him a hug.
So I wallow in loneliness.
The reality is that I know how to jump these barriers.
I have jumped them successfully before.
But often, like my Lucy, I lay down beside the barrier and don’t even attempt to jump it.
I wallow – and then I wonder why I am in a funk.
Until I hear the Voice of Truth, the voice of my Good Shepherd, calling my name.
And I remember that I can jump, that these barriers don’t have to stop me from living what Jesus called “The Abundant Life.” A life of joy that goes beyond my circumstances and the feelings they bring. A life of “peace that goes beyond understanding”.
And when I hear His voice gently calling, here is something very practical that I do:
I get out a piece of paper and I draw a line from top to bottom.
On the top of one column I write, “I feel…”
And on the top of the other I write, “…but the Truth is:”
It ends up looking something like this:
|I feel…||…but the Truth is:|
|…worried. I am not sure how I am going to get my to-do list done this week. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Something has to give. I am overwhelmed.||You, God, created time. You said that my days were numbered before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16) You also said that my times are in Your hands. (Psalm 31:15) You go before me into my day (Exodus 14:14) and will give me all I need to get through it. (Philippians 4:19) I am giving YOU my to-do list. Please show me what needs to be done and what can wait. Thank You that You are my strength (Psalm 18:32) and will be this day.|
|…scared. This world seems to be spiraling out of control. Every day it feels like things are getting worse and worse. Kindness seems to be non-existent. Being a Christian is becoming a bad thing. Murder. Racial tension. Politics and politicians. World events. War seems eminent on several fronts. Terrifying times!||You are in control. You always have been and always will be. You put in power the Kings of your choosing. (Daniel 5:21) You are the Sovereign King over all (Revelation 19:16) and I belong to You. Thank You that You will help me to be wise in my actions and words. (James 1:5) Thank You that I can bring all of these world concerns and events to You, knowing that You are the One who can change hearts, lives, countries. (James 5)|
And so on.
Please notice this, however.
The “Truth” side of the equation is not how I feel about Truth or my version of it.
The “Truth” side is based in Scripture, in God’s Word, in what HE says is true. I don’t usually put references for verses when I am doing this in my journal. But I wanted you to see that none of those are my ideas. In fact, if I replace my emotions with truth of my own making that is not based in the Word of God, then I have simply jumped from one barrier to another. This is why it is so very, very important to spend time in Word of God often – so that you can know Truth and apply it to your everyday world.
Because when I spend time getting to know God as He is, as He has revealed Himself in His Word, then I can replace my feelings with Truth – and I can soar above the barriers.
Which, by the way, is what Lucy did – eventually.