Lowering our Shields and Searching for Help

Psalm 70I tried not to blink, knowing that the closing of my eyelids would turn wet eyes into tears, and that tears would turn into crying.  

At some point I couldn’t control it anymore. My eyes closed, the tears fell, and the cries began.


Of course, this all happened while sitting in a work meeting. My cheeks got hot and my body fidgety as I dealt with my own discomfort of vulnerability in this kind of setting.


I sat there for a bit, uncertain of how to proceed. Do I explain where all this is coming from? Do I move on? Do I make a joke?


How do I stop this?


Really, though, that wasn’t the question I needed to think about. The real question was: What is at the root of this?


Because the conversation was not particularly difficult, just direct. It was a good talk about a relatively minor conflict regarding a process. The kind of important chats I think are at the center of healthy teamwork and collaboration.


I didn’t want to do anything to deter this person from moving towards this kind of conversation again. Yet there I was, sitting cross-legged in an office chair, crying in response.


The root was not the tough conversation. The root was my exposed vulnerability.


My shields were worn thin from stuff going on in my personal life, and suddenly, I felt the arrows of feelings I usually ping away in those moments.


Shame for getting something wrong.


Fear of failure.


Disappointment in not pleasing people.


Feelings I thought I had outgrown suddenly flew at my face and pierced my tear ducts into revelation.


It turns out I hadn’t outgrown those feelings or outran them or stopped letting them bother me. It turns out I just had a good shield. And once that defense was down, I was just as vulnerable as I had always been.


I wonder sometimes if our biggest enemy is ourselves. I wonder if our own feelings are what are most likely to taunt us and pursue us into holes of darkness.


What if we prayed for God to rescue us from the arrows of shame, disappointment, and fear?


Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. May those {feelings} who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame. May those {feelings} who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let {those feelings} be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!” – Psalm 70:1-3 (Inserts added by me)


What if instead of trying to shield ourselves, we asked for help? That is more difficult. Because asking for help feels needy.


But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay. – Psalm 70:5


The reality is, it’s okay to need help. Our vulnerability doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human. When we stop shielding ourselves, we open ourselves up to feel. And in the faith context, that acceptance of feeling and acknowledgement of vulnerability allow us to recognize we are not God. We cannot control everything.


But maybe it’s that letting go of the shield that helps us find a new joy.


But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” – Psalm 70:4

That was my reflection on Psalm 70. Link up with your own Psalm 70 post below. Please read a few others, too, if you can. And come back next week with a post on Psalm 71.


(Also, I'm experimenting with leaving the link up open longer. You have a week to make your post! Maybe that will give you the nudge you were waiting for to join. Use #PsalmsJourney to tweet and follow the posts of others.)