stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

Pavlovian Sadness

I’m not leaving Kalamazoo Community Church. I don’t want to leave. No one has suggested that I should leave. Well, maybe a couple people have, but no one in a position of authority has. And yet, I was recently very sad and felt like I was on the way out of here.

Two weeks ago, I began studying for a lesson on how to hear and recognize God’s voice, and the consequences of following Him. I was sad, but I didn’t know why. The next day, my office was going to be painted for me, so I began taking everything off the walls. I took down all my pictures and toys and put them in one box. I took all my books off the shelf and boxed them up, too. I didn’t want paint on any of those things. The whole time I was packing things up, I had a heartache and a weird feeling in my stomach. I was even sadder, and I didn’t know why.

Finally, it hit me. I had put a double whammy on my heart by putting it through two things that it associated with separation. First, the lesson I was studying for ended up being very similar to the one I taught in Florida the night I announced my resignation to my youth group. That’s why I was initially sad. I couldn’t place it until I was packing up my things. My heart was overwhelmed with sadness. I’ve packed up and left two churches before, so my response was a learned reaction. It was a Pavlovian response to things from my past. Even though I’m not leaving, my heart was tricked into believing that I was.

These things happen. I hear songs that take me back to another time and place, and the emotions are just as real in that moment as they were before. I never hear Canon in D without welling up a bit, because Sarah walked down the aisle to that. I smell the smelly smell of different smelly things, and it reminds me of specific times from my childhood, both good and bad. My heart reacts to its memories more than reality at times. Sometimes it’s wonderful, and sometimes it’s senseless pain.

But if there is any good to come out of my made up distress, it’s that my heart reaffirmed what I already knew: I want to be here. Leaving would make me sad. I’m glad I was just teaching a lesson and having my office painted.


Comments on: "Pavlovian Sadness" (4)

  1. We are glad too! Would hate to see you leave….God is doing great things thru having you and Sarah and Jakob here…You are making a difference.

  2. How about that smelly smell of the Salvation Army Thrift Store? Did that bring back any traumatic memories? Or how about the choir robe? It was great to see you Jeff. I miss your honest & sarcastic humor.

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