Spring time in Portland, Oregon offers a variable mixture of clouds, drizzle, hard rain, and brightness as the sun competes with the vaporous canopy below in its effort to supply illumination and warmth. The clouds cast a dark pall at times, making those of us confined to the soil long for the illusive orb in the sky, especially after a long winter. When it arrives in all of its glory, we bask in its embrace. And then the cold, dark drizzle returns, as if to splash reality in our faces, causing us momentarily to forget the peaceful contentment which accompanied the sun’s brief sojourn. The contentment becomes a memory and the drizzle soaks into our very being, penetrating our moods and our outlooks on life.
For some people, weather has that kind of direct impact on them. For others, what I’ve just described is more suitable as a metaphor, illustrating the ebb and flow of hope and despair, happiness and sorrow, contentment and depression.
We all have triggers. Certain things set us off: a situation, memory, word or phrase, setback at work or in a relationship… The triggers can be potent, even debilitating. Triggers are sometimes like a mist which reduces visibility to near zero; sometimes they are like torrential downpours, or punishing hail storms.
What triggers affect you, causing you to nosedive into depression? What triggers obscure your awareness of God’s grace and love? What triggers motivate you to isolate from people?
For me, part of the battle is becoming aware of my triggers, naming them and understanding the impact they have on me.
Such awareness reminds me daily of my desperate need for Christ Jesus. So, I turn to him when depression slams me; he alone can vaporize the storm front. When anger burns deeply due to a perceived injustice or frustration, I remember to give myself an emotional time out and consider the attitude of Jesus in Philippians 2, and throughout the gospels.
It’s not easy coming to terms with triggers and our responsibility in dealing with them. Heart level stuff is hard. But there is hope. I cling to that hope daily in the person and work of Jesus. Without him my efforts inevitably will fall short.
Next time a trigger strikes, remember that hope points to God’s grace which is secured for us by virtue of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As I wrote that last line, loud thunder reverberated through my window. Even so, I cling desperately to the promises of Jesus. My sin and shame is dealt with on his cross. Now I press in to closer communion with the resurrected Lord.
Will you join me in this journey?
Photograph above by Glen Alan Woods