In my defense, I was trying to be helpful. I had driven the tractor before. Both my kids can. It had just been awhile… but I wanted to help mow. I proceeded to successfully back the tractor out of the machine shed. An accomplishment when you consider the mower is stationary on the back. It is really hard to back up when you are essentially a land mass unto yourself. Any turn of the steering wheel and you can quickly side swipe the shed with the mower deck. But remember, I’m skilled. Done. Check. No dents.
Happy with myself, I moseyed out onto the lawn, pulled the yellow knob, the blades whirled and I started mowing. Back and forth, around trees.
Like. A. Boss.
Until a few variables kicked up the difficulty a bit. I was making my way up the hill through the thick grass when the motor started to slow and cut out- the tractor started to creep and sputter. I realized that the tractor was going to die so I quickly shut of the blades. But it was too late, the motor cut out. In a panic, I realized that a stopped motor on a hill was a bad thing. As I started to roll down said hill, I tried to push the accelerator, tried starting it. Nothing was stopping my descent.
Oddly, I did everything but apply the brake. (thus the name of my blog). Didn’t even occur to me as PLAN A.
So I slowly rolled down the hill. Until the last few feet, a light came on and I hit the brake-but it was too late to stop the momentum of a John Deere cab tractor and we hit the fence post. Luckily nothing broke. (Well…a popped a fence staple.) It all happened so fast. One minute I’m doing great -the next, I’m in a free fall and I’m living my recurring nightmare about backing up with no brakes. (seriously about once a month I have that same dream) But why get into a machine when you don’t know where the brake is? Reminds me of the dent my daughter at the age of four put in the garage door..yah we didn’t tell her about the brake before she jumped on her first little 4 wheeler. I’m sensing a trend here…
Run away vehicles aside, I don’t know how many times I have found myself in a similar situation where my feelings have started to run away and my brain shifts into neutral. I become a victim to worse case scenarios, false thinking/beliefs and quickly descend into panic, self loathing and usually tears.
Scripture teaches the heart is exceedingly deceitful. But yet we live in culture that prompts us to follow our hearts. It is no surprise that anxiety is increasingly a problem. Our thoughts create our feelings. Unless we know how to apply the brakes to negative thinking we will continue to find ourselves in free fall when the going gets tough.
Putting a stop to the heart and engaging the more rationale part of the brain takes practice and a plan for when you start to free fall. Much like getting into your husbands tractor….it is good to know what you are going to do when problems arise. Plan ahead.
Simply, a couple of things that have helped me.
Proverbs 3:5 teaches Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Usually, I don’t always know what is triggering my anxious thoughts but I found a quick prayer asking for something besides my own understanding can help. (Psalms 139:24) God reveals to my head the trigger. Often my heart panic can be traced back to my lack of trust that God is going to help me through the hard times and that ultimately He is in control.
I keep a verse on my fridge and it is often the brake I need to slow my mental freefall. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34) I have found this to be very true…even in difficult times if I focus on the present moment I can cope!
When worry and fear overwhelm me, it helps to reflect on my Savior through worship. Andy Stanley says, “worry reflects your devotion. Devotion directs your emotions. To change your emotion, change your devotion.” In worship, I hear God’s truth to combat my negative thinking. He re-frames my circumstances. He leads me by still waters. Everything can then seem smaller.
I’ll be honest, nothing is a perfect science and sometimes I do curl into a ball of despair. Usually because I hit the brakes too late! I read once that we have 5 seconds to act on something before our default (bad habits) takes over. We have a couple of heart beats before our nature starts running things. There just isn’t much much time to take rogue thoughts captive and obedient to Christ. So we have to be ready to push the brake.
I may lose my tractor privileges after my husband reads this.
That may not be a bad thing.