Amputation of Anxiety

For the last few weeks, it's felt as though my mistakes have been made with a Sharpie, and my successes in invisible ink. I've been wandering around muttering to myself, "Where is the invitation in this?" (a favorite spiritual direction question). There are a lot of answers to that, but one of them is this: all day long, from friends, families, coworkers, clients, and strangers, we each get a barrage of "you're not doing things well enough." All of us. So I'm thinking about how absolutely necessary it is that when we share God with one another, we share God's grace, perspective, and patience. But even when we know that God is patient, kind, and keeps no record of wrongs (God being love, and all), the hailstorm of criticism, impatience and fear continues, and we continue to internalize it.

Which brings me to NPR. During my morning commute today, I heard this incredible story about phantom limb pain, and how it can be resolved. People with amputated limbs sometimes experience feeling, and even pain, in limbs they no longer have. You can imagine how frustrating this might be-- how do you treat an imaginary injury? Neurologists decided to try tricking the brain with a mirror, and this gave some relief. After continued treatments, though, the phantom limb disappeared! In one case, 11 years after an amputation, the phantom limb was finally gone.

As I listened to this story, I thought about the things we carry that don't need to be part of us-- anxiety, perfectionism, etc. I thought about the mirroring of God's love that a good spiritual director does, and how it teaches us first to interact with the phantoms, and then to let them go.

What a joy it is to give and receive the love that brings relief from pain.


  1. I was chatting with an OT tonight who has been guiding my shoulder back to health. I said as the ice chilled my shoulder, "It needs to forget about the pain and relax a bit." I had some of that today when I went outside into the garden at school. That was a good thing, I will give thanks, or maybe I am giving thanks right now ;')

  2. you are saying some really important things here.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins