Nurse and Rehearse
Have you ever been in a rut? Nursed and rehearsed issues until your brain is fried? I have. Trust me—it’s not a very nice place. I don’t think I’ve ever said, Hmm, I need a change of scenery…I’d like to stay in a rut. Let me go to Hotels.com and see if there are any nice ruts to visit.
Nobody likes to stay in a rut. So why do we linger? Because once we get in one, they’re so hard to get out of. We get stuck. Being in a rut is like putting a quarter in one of those spiraling winding coin eaters at Wal-Mart or Chuck E. Cheese. You put your quarter in and watch it coil down the path until the spirals get smaller and smaller and smaller.
the quarter crashes into the pile at the bottom.
And that’s what happens to me at times. If I take a negative thought, give it entrance into my mind, meditate on it a while, soon my thoughts are spinning round and round and round.
I nurse it and rehearse it until my thoughts are stuck on rewind.
I crash into a pile of despair.
The other day, my husband could tell I needed cheering up. “Why don’t you go to the gym?” he suggested.
Such a way with words, he has.
I’d rather go shopping! I thought as I gathered my gym gear.
“Don’t forget this,” John insisted as he handed me my new set of Trekz headphones he bought me for me for our anniversary. He was so excited he gave them to me four days early because he just couldn’t wait. Naturally, I assumed it was something really special. It was in a sort of small box. I was prepared for jewelry.
or at least…
some sort of jewelry.
As I tore open the package, his face beamed. The picture on the box of a sweaty girl running was my first hint that it was not a ring or bracelet or earrings.
I tried to conceal my confusion/disappointment. Why should I be so elated about a gift that I would only use in one place—the gym?
Hmm. I guess that means he thinks I need to exercise more.
Fortunately, Valentine’s day was just around the corner. Hopefully it will arrive with a black velvet box.
So, I’m at the gym.
With my Trekz.
The girl in front of me has a pony tail that swings side to side with each stride she takes on her treadmill. She actually seems happy to be at the gym. I figure she’s listening to some of her favorite tunes.
Me? I’m all business. I didn’t want to be here in the first place, but in my own effort to make some use out of my new gift, I downloaded an audio book on my phone. Two minutes into my session on my Elliptical machine, the author made a comment that startled me.
“God doesn’t mind when we complain. He actually invites it.”
Really? I thought.
I started running a little faster. This was rather exciting news. I decided to turn up the volume.
“The most frequent Psalms consist of somebody complaining to God.”
That’s right. Preach it!
My heart rate increased and I started to get energized thinking I had Biblical grounds for whining, but after I left the gym, the word nerd in me knew I had to do a little research first. The Israelites were punished severely for all their murmuring in the desert. There was probably a difference between the lamenting so often referred to in the Book of Psalms and the murmuring that banished the Israelites from the Promised Land. I wanted to make sure I understood the difference before I indulged in a little whine.
Here’s what I discovered:
Murmur comes from the Hebrew word luwn which means to dwell, to abide, to grumble, or to complain. It also means to lodge, to stop over, or to abide.
When I murmur, I keep my grief. Like a stubborn child, I don’t want to let go of it. I let it accumulate until the bitterness poisons my soul. And it doesn’t just damage my own soul—it’s contagious. Anyone within earshot is affected.
You’ve heard the scripture, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.”? It’s so true. Even during the times when I pride myself on holding my tongue, I’m still contagious. That’s because I emit vibes and anyone within close proximity is still susceptible. There have been occasions where I really should’ve been quarantined.
Don’t tell John I just admitted that. He’d probably start a chorus of off-key hallelujahs.
A lament is also an expression of complaint, but here’s the difference: When we lament, we voice the grief and then surrender it to God in order to allow Him to restore us.
Consider this. In each Psalm of Lament, the psalmist starts out with a bitter, and I might add—a legitimate complaint—but by the end of the psalm, the psalmist is refreshed in his spirit. How did that happen? Because he didn’t keep the poisonous complaint inside, but rather, he poured it out to the Lord.
In the book of Psalms, David frequently cried out to the Lord. There is a time for weeping. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says: “There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” A lament or period of mourning, however, has an end. A murmur, on the other hand, drags on and on. I know people who have had the same grievance for decades. They’re still mad about something that happened 30 years ago. That’s because they never let it go. And now, the poison has spread. It has metastasized into other organs and infected those close to them.
Psalms 55:22 says to cast your cares (burdens, complaints, protests, yearnings for jewelry) on the Lord and he will sustain you. The word cast makes me think of a fishing line. When you cast a reel, you throw that stinky bait as far away as you possibly can. That’s what we need to do with our burdens. They are way too heavy. And besides that—they make us smell bad.
So the next time you have a bitter complaint, take it to the Lord. Don’t nurse and rehearse it. Voice it and be done with it. Cast it out to the Lord and let Him restore you. And if that doesn’t work, call me and we’ll go to the gym. I’ll even loan you my Trekz.