Emotional Shingles

That is how I’ve been explaining my mood lately. It seems that my emotions remain very close to the surface just waiting for the slightest brush, the smallest offense, the tiniest confusion to flare into a bout, often intense, of resentment, doubt, or anger. The prolonged disconnect from the people and the routines of the past acts like a scalpel peeling back the skin and exposing nerve endings.

For the past three years I have been praying Psalm 139 each morning –

Search me and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts, point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me in the path of righteousness. (italics mine)

The last few weeks God has responded to that prayer. Not in the way I would have asked or desired, but an answer nevertheless.

For these weeks have been a testing that has laid bare my insecurities and my anxieties in no uncertain terms. It has shown me where I’ve placed my trust in something other than God. And while not baring too much of my soul here, it surrounds being appreciated, valued, and respected. My testing has led me to see that I have been placing my self-worth on a response to a sermon, or blogpost, or leading, or well, you get the picture. And while all these are part of my gifting and important to the work God has called me, I realize now how much that I tied my well-being to the fruit of the gifts and not the love of the gift Giver. I deeply desired my identity that was built upon the work of ministry and instead of the work of the Gospel. In other words, they have become idols.

I am praying a prayer of thanksgiving for how God is not wasting this season of life. Without it, I may never have wrestled with these anxieties so often or intensely. Please do not hear me saying God is responsible for the trials – but rather please hear me say God is using a trial – beauty from ashes.

Oh, and I have a long ways to go. Identifying is but the beginning of the journey. My prayer is now focused on the end of the Psalm – lead me in the path of righteousness. May God bring about restoration to the brokenness within me.

I write all of this as a reflection mostly and perhaps a helpful encouragement if it sounds all too familiar. If the description of emotional shingles strikes a chord with you – know that it may be revealing something to be considered instead of something to just get through.

Published by Todd Nelson

I'm one of the pastors at First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky where I've served for the past thirteen years. The sub-title of this blog is "Grace is no accident" which happens to be the defining reality of my life. God's grace (gift) is the reason we have breath in our lungs and hope in our hearts.

2 thoughts on “Emotional Shingles

  1. I have never seen this. Instead I see you as a confident follower of Christ and one who willingly shares in the lives of the congregation. I see you as a leader and inspiration of thoughts, words and deeds. You are a kind and generous person. I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your videos and blogs. Not that I ever thought you were looking for feedback, but because what I say is truth from the heart.

  2. Hi, Todd, I have read over your post on Emotional Shingles several times now. You have definitely expressed in words what I have been feeling over the last 3 months. Thank you for your honesty and humility. I physically had shingles on my scalp and forehead 3 years ago so am familiar with the excruciating pain and disgrace that it presents like nothing I ever physically experienced. Healing did come, but scars were left on my face, perhaps as a reminder that pain is a part of life but healing eventually comes. I empathize with you in the pain you are experiencing from the lack of personal contact that we are all suffering from, but which you must be feeling very deeply as it is the heart of your profession. I am grateful for the virtual services your staff and you have so faithfully presented and the zoom meetings. However, I compare it with playing with paper dolls instead of holding a real baby. The physical contact is so nurturing, and lack of it leaves me wanting. I continue to lift your staff, family and you in prayer several times a day, believing we will be stronger in the faith because of this trial. I quote again from my devotional “Streams in the Desert”: God will examine your life not for medals, diplomas or degrees but for battle scars. What nobler medal of honor could any godly person seek than the scars of service, personal loss for the crown of reward, disgrace for the sake of Christ, and being worn out in the Master’s service! And from a minister’s sermon: You’ll never truly know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have. He is everything and the only answer. Blessings, peace & grace to you, Laura

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: