My hands sweat on the theater armrest as the walls pressed in on Luke, Leia and Han. My heart raced and I struggled to breathe. I could smell the garbage that surrounded them: machine oil, food waste and the metallic stench of rusting metal. (Or maybe it was stale popcorn and Coca Cola slicked floors.) I held my breath when Luke went under.
I think I was suffering from claustrophobia contagium. (ok, I made that up. but you get the idea….) Maybe, I’m just too imaginative….Or maybe, I was 10.)
Either way- I was convinced the walls were to closing in on me, too.
As the walls continued to close, panic sets in- Luke, Han and Leia have no clue they are about to be rescued. They prepare to die and panic sets in for me too. I am not prepared to die. I peek out through squinted eyes to half protect myself from the scene. The other half of me is so far involved in the scene that I can smell Wookie breath and feel a tentacle wrap around my ankle just above my Black suede “GAS” Shoe.
When Leia chides: “It could be worse.” Han notices impeding doom and rebuts: “It’s Worse.” I know it’s true. It IS worse.
I feel the seat tighten around me. I hear metal shriek as it’s crushed around our heroes in dolby stereo.
I look at my wrist for a communicator to shout into when Luke cries out “3PO? 3PO? Where could he be?” I want to scream: “-Wait- He’s working on your escape!!!” Tension continues to build and I think I’m either going to have to close my eyes and plug my ears or go to the bathroom to escape. (And maybe comb my hair with my yellow banana comb that was always in my back pocket… which, now that I think of it, probably caused all my back issues…hmmm.)
When I can’t stand it any more- the walls screech to a stop and then, door opens.
As fresh air fills their lungs, and mine. I let go of the armrests and I remember where I am.
I’m not in a garbage chute.
I’m not being crushed. I’m at the movies with my parents.
I’ll be honest, even before my husband’s diagnosis with and surgery for prostate cancer- I’d been feeling the walls close in. There is so much coming at me from every side that I wonder if there is enough room for my lungs to expand enough for a shallow breath. Doctor’s appointments, (mine and his) rational fears, (and irrational ones, of course) kid concerns, regular sicknesses (hello- Strep- I hate you.) daily life that includes things like cat-boxes and speaking engagements and laundry and driving duty are all crushing me with the speed and intensity of that garbage compactor scene. I’m just missing the donut hair do’….
The truth is- what I thought would be our escape…(his surgery) Instead, feels like I’ve jumped into a garbage chute. Right when I thought “It couldn’t be worse” It got worse. My husband felt physically fine before surgery. Not so much, since. With prostate surgery comes it’s trappings…catheters, struggles with incontinence, pain, medications and side effects and waiting on pathology reports and more doctors appointments and survivorship classes, and rehab, and visiting nurses and physical therapy….
My brain had decided that even though the doctor SAID there would be a recovery period, and that the next steps for treatment wouldn’t be decided for months- our case would be different. My brain thought that after the surgery everything would go back to normal. By brian thought the surgery would be our escape. The cancer would be over. Like a scene in a movie: Spielberg would yell: “CUT! That’s a wrap.” and we’d go home for the day.
Well-Spielberg never showed- and (or?) my brain was wrong. (Please note that I was not wrong… just my brain. That is crazy- but trust me- it makes me feel better.) No one has yet to yell: “Cut” Unless you count the dude who removed my husband’s catheter.
Instead of bracing the walls with garbage in a vain attempt to stop the crush… I’ve been bracing myself with juice, (confession: juicing is a nice distraction and it makes me FEEL like I’m doing something to help my husband get better….) prayer and therapeutic doses of zoloft.
Instead of crying out for C3pO, I cry out for God to rescue me.
The walls crushed.
There is just so ….MUCH. It’s overwhelming. I feel like I have to use all my energy to keep my head above water, and I don’t even know how to swim.
Then, the other day- a door flew open. Not a door to fresh air and freedom… but a door to someone else’s pain. It opened in the form of an email…(No- it wasn’t from a Zambian Prince in desperate need of my help…) It was from a friend.
Hmmm…In our crush…..I’d forgotten about other people. The email reminded me that stuff happens… to everyone. Stress crushes towards- all of us. It’s not just me. (Or just about ME… even thought I usually act like the world DOES revolve around me…)
Suddenly- instead of seeing my own garbage compacting walls…. I saw someone else’s. I couldn’t stop my own… but I was pretty sure I could do a something to help with theirs….I couldn’t fix it.. but I could let them know they aren’t alone. I COULD help.
When I did, it was like something reset in heart.
While my circumstances haven’t changed… I’m not feeling so crushed by them. Something about opening the door and seeing someone else’s pain and acting on it, slowed the crush of my own.
Maybe my perspective changed. Maybe the center of gravity shifted from ME to others.. Either way- I recognize that Leia was right….. it could be worse. And- someday it may be.
But not today.
Today- the door is open and I am gulping breaths of refreshment in seeing and serving the needs others…..even when I am feeling crushed by my own. Funny how that works.
I think God has a lot more to do with it than C3PO. C3PO only stopped the walls from crushing… God provided refreshment in the crush.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
An interesting study on Psalm 122
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
2 Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the LORD—
to praise the name of the LORD
according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
It doesn’t make sense.. but sometimes when we’re crushed by our own pain- we need to notice that of others- who can you reach out to today? Who can you help in the middle of your own mess?