Friday, July 8, 2011

Static Pain & a Truck Show

Part 1: Static Pain

So back when I was younger and paid way too much attention to my feelings, I came up with the name "static pain" to describe one particular mood. "Static pain" is the nastiest of moods, the one where my every thought turns into a self-accusation, like a knife that I can't stop stabbing myself with. That was the "pain" half of "static pain"; the "static" came because trying to think any constructive thought at all - whether it was "I should do the dishes now" or "I wonder what to have for breakfast?" was like trying to listen to someone speaking to you when there was static noise1 blasting in your ear.

Fast forward to last January. There was this talk that I was writing for my prayer group. One evening I was kind of tired and vegging out. I had been thinking about working on my talk some more, but I was slipping into the static pain mood, which makes me want to curl up in a ball and pretend the world doesn't exist. The only thing that I had ever found to help get rid of static pain was going to bed for the night, but ironically, doing anything so healthy as that only becomes more difficult when you're filled with self-destructive thoughts. Finally, in a sort of desperate "I can't feel any worse than I do now, so I've got nothing to lose" move, I decided to try to work on my paper.

Five minutes into writing, I realized my static pain had evaporated.

I was still tired; it still wasn't easy to write my paper. But the nastiness was gone. That had never happened before. I was shocked, amazed, delighted. All these years of running into this mood, was it always because I wasn't doing whatever task God wanted me to be doing right then? And all I had ever needed was to do my work, and the pain would go away? What a waste of all those times, not to realize it then! What a mind-blowingly wonderful revelation, to know it now!2

Part 2: Truck Show

Fast forward to last week. My neighbor had told me about some kids' event going on Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of the nearest Target store. I had a scheduled online chat at 12:30 with my sister-in-law and Spanish class at 6; the event was from 2 to 6. The last thing I felt like was ignoring all possible chores (including cooking dinner) to pack all 5 kids up and take them to a crowded place with lots of people that would probably involve people trying to sell things my kids would want me to buy. When my kids came in saying the neighbor's son was talking about a Truck Show, I said no, we weren't going to go (even though I had finished chatting with my sister-in-law already).

Shortly afterward, I noticed that static pain had slipped up on me. The only thing that I could think of that God might be trying to push me towards doing was going to the stupid Truck Show.

I tried to avoid that conclusion, but after praying along the lines of "So, I don't want to go to the Truck Show, so what else might you want me to do, God?", it was still all I could think of. So I eventually gave in and packed up the kids and went to the Truck Show.

Which turned out to be awesome.

Apparently the "Truck Show" consists of a dozen or more different kinds of trucks which the owners have brought in so that kids can climb inside and see what they're like. There was a fire truck, an army vehicle, a snow plow, a small semi, an (empty) FedEx truck, a Comcast truck, and more. There was this cool truck where they have a camera to investigate the inside of pipes - the kids could operate the camera controls from the inside the truck with video screens to see the results on, or they could make silly faces and wave into where the camera was set up outside. The kids got to sit in the back of a police car. (One parent commented how quick the kids all got back out again - it's not designed for comfort! The cop responded that nope, it was designed for easy cleaning. It was a revelation to me that cop cars don't have normal back seats.) The police siren went off twice while we were there; there was pretty much non-stop honking from one vehicle or another the whole time. The lady at the tractor was amused that kids preferred playing with the radio control over most anything else, and the guy with the snow plow turned the engine on and actually let the kids lift the front-plow up and down and move side to side. As we were driving away, we noticed there was an ambulance, too; we hadn't climbed inside because it had been hidden behind the larger fire truck and we never saw it. For bonus points, several of the truck-people were giving out candy, stickers, or bracelets to the kids.

It was like, "Everything truck-related that you've always been curious about but never had the chance to discover." Totally worth the annoyance.

1. Those of you who are my age or older will probably remember changing TV channels and suddenly coming across a station that wasn't getting good reception right then. Sometime the flickering black and white dots were silent or quiet, but sometimes they were inexplicably LOUD, as if someone had adjusted the volume ten times higher than whatever channel you were previously watching. My kids will be too young to remember such a phenomenon. Of course, you could also think about static on the radio, which you can still find these days, although it's not usually so loud as I remember it being. (Clearly I'm really old now, since I'm using the phrase, "it's not as _____ as I remember it being.") ;)

2. I have long considered the accusing thoughts to be coming from the Accuser - that's what the name Satan means, "Accuser". I've started to think that this static pain thing may give some insight into what is meant in 1 Cor 5:5 and 1 Tim 1:20, about handing someone over to Satan until they change their ways.

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