Words of Wellness

December 08, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

"Deploying Our Energy"

The President's recent decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan reminded me of a image that Sigmund Freud once used to talk about mental health.† Freud said if a person found themselves experiencing chronic exhaustion with little energy to get things done, it might be because they don't have enough "troops" to fight the "front line" battles of everyday life.† His hypothesis was that if a person had a history of unresolved conflicts in their life,† then they would have to leave "troops" behind to continue fighting these ongoing conflicts.† At some point if there are too many unresolved conflicts, a person's "troops" will all be tied up in past battles and there will be none left to meet the challenges of the present.† In Freud's thinking the "troops" stand for our psychic and spiritual energy.††† As past conflicts are resolved, the troops are freed up to move to the front line of the present and the person experiences increased energy to function.

I like this image because it fits my experience.† When I have suffered a painful loss, or when I am enmeshed in an unresolved conflict, I can truly feel how much energy I have tied up in those things.† I don't sleep as well and so I feel tired and distracted much of the time.† My mind can become consumed with ruminating over the unresolved conflict.† And of course, Freud believed that if the loss or conflict was very painful, and/or happened a long time ago, that it still could be draining our energy, outside of our awareness.

The Christmas season is full of moments of love, peace and stillness.† It also contains feelings of grief and sadness as we mark the changes and losses we have experienced in our lives.† If we can talk openly about these losses and release the emotions associated with them, we will have plenty of "troops"---plenty of energy to negotiate the seasson.† The cost of trying to repress or ignore any grief we may experience this time of year will be a high number of "troops" deployed to keep those feelings at bay. †

Some of us are reminded this time of year of the unresolved conflicts that continue to fester in our families or in our friendships.†† If this is true for us, we have two choices.† We can continue to call up more "troops" to keep the conflicts alive, all the while professing that we wish others would let them go.† We can also choose to release our "troops" from the conflict, putting our energy into making peace in the present.† The choice is clear, but not easy. †

God does not promise us protection from grief or conflict at this time, or any time of year.††† He does promise us his love and strength as we walk through the shadows of this life.† This promise gives us the choice--the freedom-- to lay down our swords and shields in order to enter more fully into the peace and joy of this season.

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