Anybody ever heard that? Dogs can smell fear? So you’ll be aggressively approached by a questionable, snarling critter and the owner will yell out, “it’s okay, he’s usually friendly! Just relax, dogs can smell fear.”
That’s me, I’m “dogs.” I can smell fear, my own, the dog’s, the dog’s owner, the guy down the street, the mailman. I have a heightened awareness of other people’s anxiety. I call it OPS. The “S” stands for “stuff.” In this context, the stuff is other people’s anxiety, fear, distress. It’s the bane of my existence, the blight on my potato, I tell ya.
I’ve really benefited from a couple of ideas, coping strategies. Become the calm, unbiased, observer. A witness, not a participant. Emotionally detached. Just because you “feel it,” doesn’t mean you have to feel it with them. Take note of their anxiety and distress as if you were a court reporter or something.
I’m pretty good at it today! It’s taken years. That said, I’m also aware that I have limited control, that OPS still takes it’s toll on my body, mind, and spirit. If I am around a bunch of people in an anxiety ridden, shrieking panic, eventually my very bones begin to ache. There is energy there. It gets on me no matter how well I cope and handle it.
Wouldn’t you know the Lord would just drop me on my head in the midst of global pandemic full of crazy people?? I say that with all good humor and even praise and admiration. It kind of makes me laugh, because if you have a particular issue personally, the Lord just has a mysterious way of immersing you right in it.
Now of course this whole pandemic is just the latest cherry on top of the sundae. My propensity for finding myself in the midst of a bunch of anxiety ridden, panicked people has been going on for years. Even my hubby plays a role! I mean, I actually married a man whose very love language is anxiety. I kid you not, I had a huge breakthrough when I finally realized this truth. It’s just a bit amusing, only a Divine appointment brings together someone whose very love language is anxiety and matches them up with someone who just doesn’t do anxiety at all.
Anyway, I can hardly cope with the general public in their current judgy, fear based, anxiety ridden state. A few times I just could not go into the grocery store. I just could not cope with the one way line lines on the floor, the green and red X’s you’re supposed to stand on, and the woman shrieking about how someone wasn’t wearing their mask.
Not only can I barely cope with the grocery store, but I can barely drag myself to work! Seriously, many sensible people have just bailed out already. It’s not the virus so much as it is the anxiety level of those around us. It is brutal to be constantly judged, condemned, and declared unclean. Everyone is now a cop and a spy. So, so many cops! I had no idea how many people in my area have always dreamed of being able to openly police and judge their neighbors.
(No offense to real cops, two of whom cheered me up immensely the other day by saying just what I was thinking, but a bit more colorfully.)
Somebody, several of them actually, posted complaints on social media about how they have seen some people “outside smiling and acting as if everything is normal.” They want these people taken out for not caring and not expressing the right amount of distress! I can’t tell you how hard it was to sit on my hands and not respond.
Anyway, my heart really goes out to people still trying to work under these conditions. I’m lifting us all up in prayer because I know that kind of stuff is absolutely brutal to endure and totally rots your soul. It’s the kind of stuff that will either draw you closer to Jesus Christ, or just make you hate the whole human race.