We started watching the first season of NCIS last Saturday and in the first episode, Gibbs is in the corridor of Air Force One with his gun aimed at the back of a terrorist whom he has told to freeze. Instead, the terrorist turns slowly toward him maintaining his pretense that he’s here to help as he asks what is going on and didn’t someone call for a doctor? Except that as he comes around he raises the automatic weapon he’s just pilfered from the plane’s armory and begins to fire, spraying bullets up the corridor Gibbs’ way. Gibbs doesn’t blink, doesn’t falter, doesn’t waver. He fires two quick rounds and the guy drops. He never loses his focus.
I loved that scene so much I had to watch it again. What a wonderful illustration of poise in time of pressure.
Today it has become especially useful. My life has devolved once more into chaos. There are all these things I “should” do, and all these things I want to do, as well, but seemingly have no time for.
The things I “should” do? Finish getting the new website set up, get the blog address corrected on the old one, contribute to the Amazon Author site that’s been set up… I was advised by the BHP marketing department to make a video trailer. I have a blog post to do, since I missed doing one yesterday. My office is a cluttered mess and I want to get a special picture I bought for my birthday hung up before the rapture comes. I need to start the next book, declutter my files, and do some research reading. I have miscellaneous requests from friends, to talk, go to lunch, etc. I have doctor appointments to set up for myself and to take my mother to.
Then there’s the regular stuff around the house, which I’ve not been doing, because events have impacted my sleep – late hours combined with sunrise at 5am… Yesterday after driving half an hour across town to see the rheumatologist about my hand, and back again, I was exhausted. Without motivation. Yet those “should,” and “need to” and “must” voices in my head continued to hammer me.
Plus it turns out I have an ailment – a “syndrome” – once known by the acronym CREST, now just referred to as “limited cutaneous scleroderma.” They don’t understand the cause, except that it seems to be auto-immune generated, and they don’t have treatments. This is an annoyance but nothing life threatening. You have it if you have three of the five symptoms laid out in the acronym. I have Raynaud’s syndrome, which is the R: when it’s cold, your extremities turn white or blue and get very cold. My left big toe turns white and gets numb. And in the winter, as I work at the computer, my left hand has oddly become very cold whereas my right remains normal. Now I realize it’s part of Raynaud’s.
E is esophageal dysfunction. “Do you have trouble swallowing?” he asked. I laughed because my husband and I joke that I’m probably going to die from choking on my food. Yes, I have trouble swallowing. A few years ago I could no longer swallow the calcium caplets I was taking and had to go to chewables. I cannot choke down a Nyquil to save my life. I thought it was just getting old, but no. Part of the syndrome.
The last symptom I have is Sclerodactyly, which means the skin on my fingers has tightened and stiffened. How weird is that? It’s worse on my right hand than on my left and I’m not sure how the trigger finger is related, if it is. It might be something that began on its own, or something caused by this other thing. Anyway, there’s nothing I can do but live with it. And since there can be other more serious elements to this condition (pulmonary hypertension) I will have to go get a couple of tests. Which means more doctor’s appointments.
So there’s all that. And the rheumatologist thinks my toe is broken because of how swollen it still is two weeks after injuring it. Not that there’s anything I can do about that, either, but it does make wearing shoes painful and walking Quigley a new challenge.
So when I take Quigley and he pulls and jerks and I have to resist or deal with it, my toe is not happy. Nor is my back. So I think, what I really need to do is just commit to several hours a day for the next five weeks and work with him… He’s never officially been trained to heel…
In addition to all that, which is nowhere near my complete list, when I do start tackling things, they always seem to snarl into complications. I try to answer reader mail, but run out of labels to autograph and can’t print new ones until I go to the store for ink…
I go out to Office Max to buy ink and a new fluorescent bulb for my desk light and they don’t sell the bulbs (even though that’s where I bought the desk and the light). So I have to go online and the bulb only costs $6. The postage would be more. What to do? Get two bulbs? Will it still work by the time I need a new one? Will I even remember where I put it?
I start to work at the computer, but my carpal tunnel flares up. Or I bang my poor swollen toe into a chair and have to go sit down with the ice bag again. These are small things, but when you have entire days of them, it gets old. And frustrating.
Then of course there is the next book that I had – ahem — planned to start yesterday, except I lay around and dozed instead.
What does all this have to do with that NCIS scene I mentioned earlier? All these things are like bullets spraying around me. They demand my attention and if I try to give it to them I just get flestered (yes, flestered. It was a typo, but I like it. It not only melds flesh and flustered, it looks like festered… the perfect word for the state I’m trying to describe!) These are little things, but it’s a constant stream. You can’t deal with them in any kind of logical way, because there’s too many of them and they’re coming too fast and each is hitting on an almost subconscious level. Or at least, a peripheral level, where you’re aware of them, but not how they’re fragementing your thinking and emotions.
Instead, my thoughts should be focused on only one thing: the target. The goal:
“The self-motivated believer has identified his primary objective in life: spiritual maturity, which glorifies Christ. This objective becomes the criterion for interpreting any situation that may arise. Every decision and every course of action supports this chosen objective. [The application of] Bible doctrine takes first priority… you build your life on [it].” ~ From Christian Integrity by Col R. B. Thieme, Jr.
Living in a state of being flestered is not part of spiritual maturity, nor will it lead to that. Neither are guilt, condemnation and anxiety. Moreover, if I write down all the things I “have” to do or want to do in an attempt to sort through them all (focusing on the problem, trying to take control and figure out the solution for myself) I only increase my flestered state and move into paralysis. So I have to step back and recall: there’s a reason things are the way they are. God’s ordained every detail in my life for my highest and best and most of them, I’m learning, are forms of affliction. Light affliction – maybe even VERY light affliction – but affliction nonetheless. Here for my blessing. To root out false thinking and make me stronger.
Okay, Lord, I’m letting go of my lists and my flestered state. Again. What do you want me to do?
Hmm. Well, for one, it appears He wanted me to write this blog post because… ta da! … Here it is. When I had no intention of writing it. When I only sat down to work through my flestered state.