Several years ago, I spent some time in New England and explored the coast in several directions. I loved all of the rock jetties and, since it was the middle of December, the beaches were practically deserted. There were many lovely spots to stand in solitude and listen to the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks while the occasional seagull flew overhead, crying out with a song only they understood. Sometimes, those seagulls sounded so desperate that it was startling. The sound of the ocean waves was quite soothing and I could have stood there forever and let the song of the sea drown out the storms that were raging inside of me.
As we sat on a pier somewhere near Cape Cod, a friend’s father showed me what would happen if you put a cracker on the hood of the car. He warned me to climb into the backseat, shut the door, and keep the window rolled up. I watched in amazement as what appeared to be hundreds of seagulls flocking out of nowhere to fight over this one cracker. Some of them stood on the hood looking in through the windshield. Others perched themselves on the trunk and pecked at the back window. One brave seagull actually maneuvered himself to tap on the passenger window with his beak, as if to say, “Hey, are you going to give up your stash or what? I know you’ve got more crackers!”
My friend’s father cracked the window and slipped out another cracker or two. The cacophony of seagulls flapping their wings and bleating at each other was quite a show. I am surprised they weren’t flipping the car over with the level of aggressiveness they were displaying. It took quite a while for them to figure out the crackers were not going to keep coming out of a crack in the window. With the blaring of the car horn and some maneuvering, we were finally able to pull away.
There are times when our minds are a lot like those wild seagulls, fighting over cracker crumbs. It seems you can lay out a thought like a cracker, yet forget to brace yourself against it and take shelter. Suddenly, you find yourself being squawked at and pecked at and picked on by greedy seagulls just begging for more crackers to get tossed out through a crack.
That is what living with shame, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression can be similar to. All it takes is one disturbing thought, an ugly word, one perceived threat, the suspicion of rejection, or the simplest of triggers for your mind to swarm until there is absolutely nothing left of you to pick at. It turns into an ugly cycle of tossing out more crackers, thinking that is ever going to get you anywhere or make the seagulls go away.
The holiday season can be very triggering to many people for a great many reasons. While I genuinely love this time of year, it is also a time of year that brings to mind those seasons of profound loneliness and some of the uglier storms of days gone past. I have found myself tossing out crackers and trying in vain to maneuver my way through a thick flock of seagulls (no, not the 80’s band). The cacophony of the mind has been so loud, I forgot to tune into His voice and seek refuge.
I kind of just want to let my crackers spill into the water and fall into the ocean while His voice begins to quiet the raging sea within. If you are feeling triggered by the season or your state of mind does not seem to match the mood of the holiday, you are not alone. You are also not ‘wrong’ for feeling what you feel, so don’t toss anymore crackers through the cracks in an attempt to feed the shame.
Let us take a moment to count our blessings together and let the rest go for awhile. I can honestly say I am grateful for my husband, children, and animals. I am also thankful that my days of spending holidays alone have been replaced with the cacophony of family, the laughter of small children, and the Lord’s grace in abundance. I am thankful that I can take refuge in Him while the seagulls give up and realize there won’t be anymore crackers today.
What are you thankful for?