“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
I attended a spinning class one day and found myself exhausted from the first pedal stroke. Was it me or did I have a tough bike? A short conference with those around me made it clear it was the bike, Bike Number 25, not me. And so I had permission to ride by my feelings rather than by the numbers the instructor called out. If she said put the bike in gear 15 and go 90 rpm, I adjusted either the gear or the speed, and, truth be told, sometimes both. I left the class sweaty and tired, but knowing I’d cheated myself by riding by my feelings.
I got into my van, noted that the speedometer read 140 mph though I was parked, and began to drive by my feelings. Because I encountered somewhat heavy morning traffic, I had plenty of pace cars, so my “feelings” were likely accurate, but when a stinky blue truck got in front of me, saturating the defrost air with its fumes, I felt like slowing down to back away from him (because, of course, it was a “him”)–and did. My nose appreciated it, but the cars behind me did not.
As my van’s pace fluctuated with my feelings, my thoughts ran through my breakfast options and landed on chicken and dumplings, leftovers from the previous night’s supper. That felt right. Protein, carbs, delicious comfort, all in one bowl. (Probably not the worst decision of my day, especially as remnants of a blueberry pie remained in a box on the counter, and I felt in the mood for dessert–likely since I had just finished a meal more like dinner than breakfast.)
A hot shower, a quick change into my favorite sweats, and I was ready to read my juniors’ research papers–just 12 left to grade. But I thought of the song lyrics I was going over in my mind that morning: “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free…” and thought how I often write because I’m happy or write to get happy–when I’m free to do so. And how unfree I feel when I am too busy with my schoolwork… and how I felt I should write a few minutes so I could truly dedicate myself to grading papers. (Because, let’s face it, how often does anyone feel like grading research papers?)
And then I felt how stressed I feel, because I. Have. So. Much. To. Do. (Likely because I avoid necessary work–like grading research paper rough drafts–because other tasks, still tasks, mind you, feel like a better choice.)
And that pretty much summed up my life–being driven by feelings.
I’ve told you about my Chevy Venture issues–the van from Hell, apparently. It allowed me to suffer flooding this summer from condensation of the air conditioning system (easily fixed by an unadvertised $7 dealer part). It still causes me to suffer from a fluctuating speedometer. The AC flooding issue has been fixed, but the speedometer issue–seemingly a common problem in Chevy vehicles yet not common enough to force a recall (until people start blogging about it? Maybe?)–is now perpetual.
Since the fix–apparently $600–is neither readily in my pocketbook nor deemed worthwhile by my husband, I found another solution: a GPS Head-Up Display. Mine is a $98 plastic gadget that adheres to my dashboard and reflects the digital speed off my windshield–created with safety (and race cars?) in mind because I no longer have to look down to see my speed. The funny thing is that when I plug it in, my built-in speedometer seems to suffer “speedometer envy” and slowly rights itself. It’s almost as if by having the standard right beside it, my speedometer starts to act right.
Recently, that has been my life. My final graduate studies class is in full force and is, by far, the most difficult class of all, the culmination of all I have learned and, likewise, the epitome of frustration (which is saying something after my gaming class in the fall). Add my son’s basketball, then baseball, schedule on top of my teaching and my student responsibilities, in addition to being a mother, wife, housekeeper, laundress, sometimes chauffeur, cook, and the finder of all things lost, and you have one busy girl who tends to be driven by her feelings instead of the right standard, God’s Word.
I was feeling overwhelmed, sensing my wheels spinning out of control instead of accomplishing what I needed to accomplish despite my best efforts–and so used more minutes of my day to do, do, do instead of pray and spend time in God’s Word. My negative feelings escalated; I got less done rather than more. Until I finally plugged in the right standard–God’s Word–and, somehow, by taking that time to just be with God in the morning, I found that my schedule righted itself. Mostly. Like my van’s speedometer, I am not perfect and often get off speed.
For awhile I would plug in my Head-Up Display, but when my speedometer righted itself, I unplugged it, figuring I had no need of it. But then my speedometer–once again minus the Head-Up GPS–would go crazy again. Which is why, though I am parked, my van tells me I am going at 140 mph.
My speedometer situation is more than a bit annoying, but it is a good picture of my life–and my need to plug into the right source at all times.