Unless you breathe out of your butt, you can’t live in your shell….

I knew I was in real trouble yesterday when I got off the phone with my friend. I’d called to get an update on a work situation I’d helped her with the day before and was glad to see that it had all worked out.

“See, I told you not to take it personally,” I’d said. “Sometimes it helps to get a perspective from someone who isn’t as close to the situation.”

If I’d have stopped there, there would’ve been no problem. But I continued. “Me, I don’t care what anyone thinks. They can get mad and get glad. I’m over caring what anyone thinks of me.”

Me thinks the lady doth protest too much should’ve been the dialogue in my head. But I was still buried so deep in my shell I actually believed it was true.

The next morning I climbed into a steaming hot bathtub filled with bubbles and settled in to drink my mug of ice cold Coke and finish the novel I’d been reading. After just a couple of pages, the character faced a loss that brought all my pent-up tears and fears to the surface.

I set the book down and just cried until I couldn’t tell where my tears stopped and the bathwater began. I knew at once that the plot was merely the catalyst for a cleansing the Lord knew I needed.

99% of anger people feel stems from a hurt or a fear. It’s merely a coping mechanism for grief. And grief doesn’t alway require a casket. You can grieve many things from wasted years to failed relationships. You build up these tough exteriors so that they don’t hurt as much but when you get deep down inside, the pain is still there.

That’s why we have to continually turn these things over to the Lord. If we don’t, they form roots in our souls, rotted vines that grow and ensnare the goodness within us.

But sometimes that feels impossible. you think, to let go means you don’t care. Or you can’t stop thinking, even obsessing, over it. After a loss, are you expected to just stand up, wash your hands, and move on as if nothing had happened?

Of course not.

But that’s what letting go and letting God feels like.

Some losses are permanent. Death brings a finality of grief.

Some losses may be temporary. This is the one I’m struggling with right now. A familial relationship that I’m not sure will ever be reconciled. Sometimes the open-ended grief is even harder. Is there hope? Should I accept it’s over? I tried honesty. I tried space. I tried heartfelt. I tried humor.

Then I tried to bury myself in a shell and pretend I didn’t care. I have friends who WANT a relationship with me. I have a good life, with or without her. It’s HER loss. But the truth is, it was MY loss. All of the pretending it didn’t matter was slapping a Flash Gordon band-aid over a massive gaping wound.

We can’t stop caring, or wanting things to be right, or even wishing our loved ones were still on earth with us. We can’t stop the sorrow, or the fears, or the regrets in life. All we can do is grab each situation or each thought as it comes by and ask the Lord to help us through it.

We aren’t turtles. We can’t bury our heads inside ourselves and we don’t breathe through our rear ends. We don’t need shells to protect us; we just need Jesus.

Is it worth the price?

How many times do you ask yourself this question?

Unless you have a black AmEx card or unlimited trust fund, you likely weigh the cost of items against the benefit gained. A new pair of shoes, a certain cut of meat, a new sofa.

Sometimes it is well worth it. Other times you decide to pass.

You may even later regret the choice you made. But you still made a calculated decision.

Do you do the same for your spiritual choices?

I’m not talking about the big ones, the ones that leave you begging God to intervene. I’m talking about the little day-to-day ones that destroy your peace, one rotten worm at a time.

For me, it was the neighbor’s dog.

This dog had been let loose and kept coming into my yard, claiming it as his own. He’d pee all over my porch and aggressively antagonize my dogs. They became scared to go outside in their own yard and we would have to stand next to them just so they could relieve themselves.

I was upset.

About five days in, I realized that my simmering frustration had given way to full-blown anger. And it was affecting every area of my life.

It is hard to write about the peace of God when you no longer feel it.

It is hard to sleep at night when you are boiling over inside.

And it is hard to keep the anger inside from manifesting in your conversations with others.

I had to weigh the cost.

Now I’ll be honest. I love my dogs like they are my own children.

And I’m a mama bear when it comes to my kids.

So this wasn’t an easy decision.

That, in itself, was a little frightening.

But I knew that allowing the situation to rob me of life, of peace, of a right relationship with God was NOT worth the price. Not at all.

It took me about three more days before I was able to let it go.

It took prayer, asking God for help.

It took compassion, knowing the neighbors were going through a difficult time that made my inconvenience pale in comparison.

It even took understanding of the dog, who wanted the same attention we showed our own dogs after being forgotten in the midst of their struggles. He wasn’t a mean dog; just huge and instinctively responding to our dogs’ fear.

The bottom line was, right or wrong, I had to let it go.

There’s no such thing as justified anger with God.

As soon as I did, the situation resolved itself.

Weigh the cost of your spiritual decisions. The Lord has already paid the price.