Recently I have been plagued with a sense of urgency. Everything has to be done RIGHT NOW. It is difficult to prioritize. Everything is important. Everything is immediate. Everything depends on me! If I drop anything the whole universe will crash down around our ears and it will be All My Fault!
A wise friend said to me, “This sense of urgency needs to be addressed.” She wasn’t volunteering to help me prioritize or mark things off my list. Instead, she wondered about the source of the feeling of urgency that had me by the throat.
I stopped. Took a breath. And remembered that feelings are not right or wrong, they just are……they rise out of us based on our circumstances, our life experience, our personality, our relationships and things as basic as whether or not we ate breakfast!
Feelings are also fickle. While some measure of ambient anxiety is in our social, political, and emotional atmosphere all the time, our feelings can turn on a dime. When we are consumed by a feeling (i.e. anxiety, fear, or urgency) it helps to take a look at what is going on and ask ourselves if that feeling is based in a realistic response to current events. My pastor used to point out that we may have a #8 reaction (on a scale of 1-10) to a #2 event. Example: our child spills juice and our face turns red, looks scary, and we threaten him or her with a loud, angry voice. Or someone tailgates our vehicle and we respond with profanity and/or road rage. Such responses are far bigger than called for by the original event. When our reaction is out of proportion we need to check out what is going on in us.
My pastor used to say that we carry an invisible slush bucket of feelings around. If we let feelings build without addressing them the bucket will overflow and we will have a mess. We all carry a slush bucket! There are shootings, road rage, children physically harmed and serious situations happening because people let irritation or rage build until their invisible emotional slush bucket explodes. If we clean out our slush bucket on a regular basis we will have much more reasonable responses to the people and events in our lives.
How do we clean out our slush bucket? Perhaps we need to speak honestly to someone about something they said or did or a problem they created for us. Perhaps we need more rest or self-care. Perhaps we are creating our own mess by failing to budget or plan ahead and then responding badly to others on whom we would like to blame our problems. Maybe we just need to practice saying “No” to people or over-scheduling so that we have the time we need for rest and recreation.
I had postponed a simple task I dislike and the longer I postponed it the more out-of-control all my tasks felt. My sense of urgency about everything was an over-reaction to something I delayed for months that I just had to buckle down and complete.
I am grateful to the insight of a friend who didn’t try to fix anything for me but made an insightful comment. I am grateful to my pastor for his practical teaching. And I am grateful for the nudge of the Holy Spirit grounding me in honest reality at the same time I am surrounded by the mystery of God.
I invite you to spend some time with the notion of a slush bucket; your slush bucket – you are not in charge of anyone else’s! Then, may the Holy Spirit help us dump what needs to be dumped into God’s own compost to be transformed into the stuff of new possibilities!
Rev. Marcia Hagee
She graduated from Duke University and the University of Missouri-Columbia studying Psychology and Religion. She earned her M. Div at Phillips Theological Seminary and was ordained by the Oklahoma Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).