What Time Is It?

What Time Is It? June 29, 2019

TimeTime to Know

There are times in our lives that have distinct purpose. Ecclesiastes declares,

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..

When time presents itself as an opportunity for change, we need to be sensitive to the moment, to give people what they think they need, not necessarily what we think they need. To press our wisdom and experience upon someone who is not ready to hear it, could deter them in the future from growth. If we are sensitive to their needs, even if it isn’t the growth we could offer them, it will show them the love they need. When we show them love, we show them the essence of Christ.

Time the Teacher

In the time and experience I have had in the over half a century of my life, I would like to say that there is definitely, “A time to speak and a time to keep silent”. In my youth, I practiced speaking a lot more than keeping silent. I was bold and brazen about my beliefs and didn’t mind sharing them freely. There were times when I spoke to people who needed help, but didn’t give them what they needed. When someone is hurting, they sure don’t need correction, unless they are looking for it. Then came the day that I saw Tonitia for the second time.

Time for TonitiaTime

Tonitia came in to my office with a smile on her face and sat down. I had seen her a time before, but not like this. Before, she was disheveled, fallen apart almost, and full of anxiety. Her clothing was a mess, and she looked like someone who goes on a WalMart run. Desperation was all over her face then and I helped her to get through the two-hour assessment. We had a good conversation then, and she left my office saying she was comforted.

Time for Faith

Today she was a different person, someone who was all together. Her hair was perfectly styled, it laid over her shoulders in curls, looking healthy and clean. The clothes she had on were business casual, but they were pressed, and she looked good, really good. She was standing on faith and was about to let me know. When she sat down, she looked like she was sitting down for a job interview, she didn’t look relaxed, even though she was trying to convey the opposite.

TimeTime to Sense

As is my custom, I introduced myself and let Tonitia know what my job was; to check up on her progress and update her files. She was all smiles and sat like someone who was deliberately keeping a perfect posture. There was a cordiality about her but also a defensiveness that I didn’t understand yet. She had already seen her psychiatrist and I had no reason to think that things had not gone well. We continued the paperwork but I sensed something was coming.

Time for Trust

When I asked how she was doing, it was all butterflies and frisbee’s, like someone without a care. She presented as if all was well for her and that life had offered her a solution. The more I questioned her about her symptoms, while giving her an open ability to respond, the more her story evolved. She finally came to a place of rapport that she was willing to trust me with what had happened. It was then that she spilled out how she had come to believe she had found an answer.

Time to ListenTime

“I’m doing so much better”, she said with an enthusiasm that was more forced than genuine. I did not interrupt her because she was pouring out, and I know better than to interrupt. “I didn’t know that it was the devil that was putting all these thoughts in my mind. Once I learned that, I began to fight against the devil and take control of my mind.” My heart loved her faith, her dogmatism and her strength. This is not the time to speak. Not the time to educate someone about everything you have learned in your experience. She wasn’t in a mode to listen, so I did.

Time to Remember

“Joyce Meyer’s book, The Battlefield of the Mind really helped me a lot”, she continued. “I learned about what the devil does and how to take back my thoughts”. My mind was thinking, “I wonder if Joyce Meyer’s had suffered with anxiety”? I tried to continue to connect with her even though it was like looking in a mirror from fifteen years ago. I recalled saying out loud, “In the name of Jesus” to more than one thought that I was sure was the devil’s. She was who I was in the past, with just as much fervor and dogmatic faith as I had. It made me smile genuinely and remember who I used to be.

TimeTime Reminds

As I listened to her, I drifted back momentarily. It was then, when I was young in faith and fire, that I had determined that I didn’t need medication. My heart felt faith was that Jesus was going to take care of my every need. Aspirin wouldn’t even pass my lips back then, because it was all or nothing. My all was Jesus and I believed he could heal me of anything, even a headache. When I went to one of my pastors and proclaimed that none of us needed medication if we just had faith, he was in the position I found myself with Tonitia today. His gentle admonishment was even sweeter to my soul at the moment I was looking at Tonitia.

Time to be Gentle

His name was John Moore, a black man with freckled face and glasses. The man was well over sixty years old then, and a quiet man by nature. He moved slowly, deliberately and looked at me with the same love that I would show Tonitia thirty years later. He heard me proclaim that I wouldn’t take medication and that we all should have the faith to believe Jesus. Pastor John looked at me and said, “If that works for you and is your faith, then don’t take medication”, he said with enough seriousness that I felt he was listening. I pressed him but got the same response. Gradually, unsatisfied, but still validated, I walked away pondering. Now it was my turn.

Time to UnderstandTime

Tonitia went on about her faith and her frustrations that her psychiatrist didn’t agree with her. I listened intently, reminding myself that she was on her journey and the devil had become her coping skill. Who was I to attempt to dismantle something that was working, even if it is an error to me. This is what people of conscience should wrestle with. We should not be giving people our experience unless they are asking for it. Oh, there are moments when we get a gentle prod or a nudge, and we should carefully take those opportunities. Yet, for Tonitia, it is time for dogmatic faith. That is helping her to cope with anxiety.

Time to Think

When Tonitia gets “intrusive thoughts” as we call them in the mental health world, who cares if she thinks it’s the devil speaking to her? The truth is, anxiety can make someone’s brain feel like an enemy. Perhaps that’s how the devil got credit in the first place. It’s easier to blame something outside of yourself than to consider that your brain is malfunctioning. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that pop up in the mind unexpectedly. Those thoughts can be disturbing, or at least something that is not welcome. In therapy, people learn coping skills to deal with these thoughts. A coping skill 

Time

is a way to address those thoughts so that it doesn’t overwhelm, cause anxiety or distress. A coping skill can be anything healthy that helps someone 

get past the intrusive thought.

Time to Accept

Be it the devil, a medication, a coping skill, or anything healthy and helpful, who are we to reject someone’s resilience? Who are we to steal their stability? I have learned that everyone’s journey is theirs, every step. We should not take away their hope, their faith or their journey. If they choose to let us interject, this is a whole different matter. If they ask for advice, then we should tread lightly, honoring their journey. I respected that young woman in my office. I offered support and suggestions but I didn’t take her experience from her. She is doing fine without my impeding her journey, just fine.

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