Do you remember the story of Chicken Little (or Henny Penny in some cultures)? Not the movie, but the book. An acorn falls on Chicken Little’s head and he is convinced that the sky is falling. He goes as far as making a journey to see the king to warn him of this impending disaster.
The meteorologists predicted a week ago that we were going to be the beneficiaries of a significant snow storm. 10, 20, and even 30 centimetres (almost a foot) of snow was anticipated in some regions. I woke up the next morning, fully anticipating to see a blanket of fresh-fallen snow on the ground below, and there was…nothing! Just a light dusting of snow. No need for snow plows. To be fair, some other areas farther afield did get some snow.
Many times we anticipate the worst, and it never happens.
Catastrophizing. Have you ever catastrophized? It is an irrational thought that we have in believing something is far worse than it actually is. There are two forms: we can make a catastrophe out of our current situation, or we can imagine making a catastrophe out of a future situation. Example: I am late getting to work. I immediately believe I will lose my job and my paycheque, and therefore I will lose my house and my car. By the time I get to work I’m in a panic. Meanwhile, my manager welcomes me and is glad I’m at work, or suggests I leave a little earlier for work next time.
If you are prone to catastrophizing, next time ask yourself some questions. Is the situation realistic? Is it really likely to happen? Is there anything you can do to mitigate the situation? For example, perhaps you can call ahead to work to say you’ll be a few minutes late.
For me, catastrophizing is a symptom of depression. I imagine my nearest and dearest in a fatal accident, and the scenario includes a funeral. When I start thinking that way, I know I’m depressed. Just knowing that takes away the heavy emotion generated by these irrational thoughts – I do recognize these thoughts to be irrational.
Next time the sky is falling, look for the acorn.
What is joy? It is not happiness. It is more deeply rooted than that. It is in our very wellsprings, something that bubbles up from beneath the surface. I may not be happy about my situation. In fact I can be angry, frustrated, sad…you name it. But I can feel joy.
Joy is a separate entity. Our babies give us joy. Victories give us joy. We sing joyful songs to the Lord for He is great. Creation sings for joy.
Joy is being able to feel good when everything else around us feels bad. It is the inexplicable sense that no matter how terrible our predicament is, we can still feel good. I believe optimism is rooted in joy.
Depression can mask joy, can thwart joy. But we have the Comforter. Romans 8:26-27 says, “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Let the Holy Spirit pray for you if you have lost your joy.
Seek joy. Happiness is ephemeral. It is fleeting – sometimes here and sometimes not. Joy will stand the test of time.
I welcome your comments!
As I write this, we are enjoying above-average temperatures in Wellington County, and indeed over most of eastern Canada and northeastern United States. Above-average means above 0°. This is a reprieve from the bitterly cold temperatures we have had over Christmas and the New Year, where we had wind-chill factors in the minus 20’s.
Reprieves are good. Reprieves are necessary. A reprieve comes in many forms. For the prisoner on death-row, a reprieve means a stay of execution. For the patient who suffers the debilitating effects of a disease, it could mean the remission of the disease. It could mean a coffee with a friend, and a chance to chat and pour your out heart about what life has handed you and how you feel about it. It could mean buying a single rose for yourself, to put in a vase where you can often admire its beauty. Many forms.
I have Bipolar Disorder, and am sometimes caught in a depression that seems so deep, I will never crawl out of it. I have understanding friends, as well as an awesome daughter, who cheer me on and keep in touch with me even though I feel I am a pariah. I have faith in a living, loving God. When I am in the deepest despair, I know He cares for me. If I lose hope, my daughter, friends and Pastor lift me up in prayer and, miraculously, I feel better again. This sometimes happens because, no doubt as a result of prayer, daily devotionals seem to directly address my situation, and the scriptures they contain give me courage to keep on going. I have had a reprieve.
Are you needing a reprieve? Do you need a safe place to spill out what you’re going through? Leave me a comment.