You are probably not so different from me. But I live much of my life with this inner feeling, somewhere right smack in the pit of my stomach – the “solar plexus chakra” – if you do not know what that is, I know only enough that I’d misrepresent it to say more. What I do know is exactly what it feels like and what it likely means. It is that place inside your upper abdomen where you feel self-worth or, in my case, the lack of it…self-confidence or, in my case, its opposite…self-control…or, in my case…well…you know where that’s going.
Maybe it isn’t the same with you but, much too often, I feel quite unworthy…as if I could use a little more confidence…no, a lot more confidence. I just don’t feel in control of anything anymore. Some of it I blame on my age, something else of course I cannot control, much less that stuff that happens as a result of it. Hence, I live, for the most part, with this feeling right smack in the pit of my stomach that is sometimes so intense it’s as if the inside of my stomach were trembling.
The feeling is inevitably accompanied by the questions, too. Or, maybe the questions precede the stomach stuff. I do not know which it is. But I think things like…
“What will happen to me?”
“Will I ever quite make it?”
“Can I make a difference in this world?”
“Why do people judge me…dislike me?”
“Why don’t I have any more friends than I do?”
“Does my life really matter?”
I sometimes have profound lonely feelings, too, the kind that make you wonder if you should see a therapist. But then, I am the therapist. Who do I see? A double whammy, huh? I need from others what others need from me.
I’m smiling even as I write this because the whole darn thing we call “life” is just that ambiguous, isn’t it? Just that crazy!
Oh, and while I’m at it, there are times I have pretty frightening feelings and I seldom know what I’m afraid of. All I know is that it’s the kind of feeling you might remember having the first day you let go of your mother’s hand — or, was it Mom who let go of my hand? — I cannot remember — but, you slowly, reluctantly climbed up those big black steps onto the platform of that the big yellow bus bound, or so they said, for the first grade in elementary school.
Know the feeling? Understand what I’m describing here?
Some of you do. Which is why you’re still reading.
Then, Lao-Tzu comes along and says, “Be content…rejoice in the way things are!”
“Yea right?” goes off the voice in your head.
And, just then, another kind of Lao-Tzu shows up, his name Jesus, and he says essentially the same thing, only he puts everything into questions: “Why do you worry about your life? Your clothes? Why do you concern yourself with what others think of you? Or, worry about how to make ends meet or what tomorrow will bring? (Matt. 6:25-34).
And, just as he utters these questions, you’re right there with him, of course. His words resonate with you. “Yes, yes, Master,” you say. “You nailed it. That is what I feel…the stuff I worry about…yes, yes, I feel it right down here in the pit of my solar plexus!”
But, no sooner than he asks these questions that resonate so deeply…no sooner than the pain in the pit begins to pale, he picks up point two of his sermon and says, “Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will take care of themselves.” (Matt. 6:33).
“Really?” you cry out with doubt. “Are you kidding me? You make it sound so easy, when it’s really so damn hard?”
There’s no answer.
“Master? Are you listening to me? I have a few questions of my own!”
He just walks away.
“Wait! Wait, Master. Just one more question? Please, sir, what is this Kingdom I am to seek?”
He doesn’t even turn around.
Don’t despair, my friend. There are some hints as to what he meant. Somewhere, in his no answer there is an answer. And, you will find it.
You know how I know? Because the answer is in the search itself. Only those who “seek” the Kingdom experience the Kingdom. I couldn’t swear by this. But, I think I’m right. Kind of like a quail hunter whose hound has the flu. So, he’s there alone but he’s been there before. Something inside says to him, “I’d bet there’s quail in the cover up there.” So, he proceeds.
I think I know what the Kingdom is and I think I do because the pain in my pit pales more and more the longer I ride the big yellow bus to somewhere.
I’ll tell you where my bus ride has been taking me in the next post.
“What?” you ask. “Wait till the next post? But I need something now! Some therapist you are!”
I know. We all need something. So, try this on for size, won’t you?
My friend, when you feel your stomach tremble at not knowing what you’re going to do or how you’re going to face the challenges ahead, do as I do and live into that feeling inside. There is nothing wrong with you and you’re no different from anyone else. Oh sure, I know, there are those who always look like they have it together…who seem invincible…as if no challenge is too great for them…that they could handle anything in life with confidence, grace, and courage.
But, it’s all just a charade, my friend. You gotta know this. I do. I was one of those who wanted everybody to believe I had all the answers. I possessed the wisdom…the truth. But it is those who act courageous who are life’s biggest cowards. They’ve just learned to swallow a lot of religious cliches’ the way some people swallow Pepto-Bismol tablets. It temporarily masks the indigestion in their souls.
Live into your fears…your questions…doubts…loneliness…and feelings of unworthiness. We all have them. And, when you know this, and are no longer ashamed to admit it – even when everyone expects you to have answers for them -when you can embrace your fears and your worries and stop trying to pretend you don’t have any pain in the pit of your stomach, that’s when you’ll begin to feel a little relief.
There’s one thing I’ve come to know about God and that is this: She, like my mother, knows just when it’s time to turn loose of your hand so you’ll learn how to climb on board the big yellow bus all by yourself.
So, until next time, just try enjoying the ride. You will reach your destiny. Sure, the leather seats aren’t too comfortable and smell of dirty butts. But the big yellow bus is going somewhere and that somewhere is called the Kingdom.
And, just in case you were wondering whether the journey has begun, here’s how you’ll know…
There’s a pain right smack in the pit of your solar plexus.
Until next time…