Monday, August 10, 2015

Itches

I came back from camp with mosquito bites, and boy did they itch. Some itched quietly: “Hello, just wanted you to know I'm still here.”

Others insisted on my notice, “Hey you! I'm HERE!” Those I scratched, which was supremely satisfying in the moment. Afterward, however, the bite was bigger, and the itch more insistent.

I've found the best strategy for mosquito bites is to focus to something else whenever they intrude upon my attention. Lotions and gels soothe a little, but even a small touch increases the itch for a time. Giving in is the worst solution. Giving in does not appease them. Giving in makes them bigger and noisier, and increases the possibility of infection. I hear some of my friends say, "Hey, there's an oil for that!" Haha, yes. Yay oils :)

Itches aren't only physical. A lot of time the itches I scratch are emotional, personal, sore and aching wounds of the heart.

I heard a minister say this weekend that the average person has around 55,000 thoughts per day, 80% of which are negative. I can attest as an intuitive introvert, that I have at least 55,000 thoughts per day, and probably more. If I have my stern face on, I'm probably thinking. Sometimes I wish I could shut my brain off.

Each of us has a mind, and, if we pause and consider a little while, can probably name several thoughts that flit through our heads every day. I struggled with anorexia as a young adult, trying to develop the perfect control I thought all adults had.  That's a story for another day, but one of the things my therapist did that helped so much was to have me write down thoughts. Until then, I had no idea the sheer number of negative voices in my head. (At that time, the thoughts were generally some variation of, "Not good enough, not good enough, not good enough.")

Thoughts lead to action.  As a young adult, my thoughts led me to starve myself and exercise compulsively.  But it's the thoughts we entertain, whether consciously or unconsciously, that lead to actions.  A friend insisted I get help, and I learned to recognize and then divert my thoughts to better channels. I eventually stopped the mad cycle of exercise, and began eating enough food to support my body.

Learning to divert your thoughts is huge. I recommend everyone who is a person (and that is all of us) learn to do this. Also, it will take honing as you get older because life gets more and more complicated. Trust me. It is an ongoing process your whole life.  One of the best strategies for diverting thoughts is found in Charlotte Mason philosophy.  Sonya Shafer has written a good article on the subject, found here.

We all have itches-- physical, mental, emotional. We examine them to see if anything can be done. We ask mom or the doctor or our friends or Google for advice.  But nope. They are just annoying itches that need to go away. We must let time and healing do their work. Scratching satisfies us for the moment, but as soon as we leave off, the itch returns more raw, prominent and insistent than before.

Also, guess what? There's an oil for that. No, really.  It's the oil of God's grace, which the Lord pours on our souls, even when we don't perceive Him there. Cling to that thought. It's happening.

And whatever-it-is will eventually subside, or at least get quieter, if left alone.  Easy to say, hard to do.

Caveat: If you discover you have a deep wound and not a mosquito bite, don't try to distract yourself from that!  Deep wounds require close attention.



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