This is a revised chapter from my book. I’m sharing it because a similar situation came up just yesterday. Also I want you to see how the questions at the end of the chapter can really help you take the message to heart and see how it either has or hasn’t worked in your own life. So here goes:
I know you’ve heard the phrase, “I couldn’t stomach it.” Well, that literally happened to me last week. My stomach got all knotted up and nothing would go through—everything I ate felt like it was stuck, and I mean really stuck—it hurt. I couldn’t eat, only drank ginger ale and ate a little toast; I was getting weak. I thought maybe I’d eaten something bad, but that wasn’t it. Here’s what happened:
It was a Thursday and we found out at work that we were to do some ceiling murals for an addition at one of the casinos. I was excited. The murals that are there now are spectacular and it was a dream come true to be able to do something to even complement them. To even be considered in the same category was thrilling.
I started on a mock-up for the project. I walked up the stairs into our area and on a piece of vinyl, my bosses had already painted in a sky and blocked in areas of green for the trees and roses. So far, so good. My big boss said, “I have a presentation Monday and I’d like to take this with me.” That meant that I had only two days to get it done. My immediate boss was also going to work on it and had started mixing colors, but she was busy with another project that day. I got into it right away, but there were a lot of unanswered questions I was stressed.
We were to paint as if you are looking up and there is a roof garden with orange trees up there and roses, some of which are hanging down toward you. There are also some birds flying in the sky above.
First of all, I didn’t know what scale we were working in. In other words, how tall were the trees supposed to be, and what about the size of the closest orange? How was this mural going to be done on a large scale? Were other people going to work on it or just me? Or maybe just me and my two bosses? Or did I have to make it simple enough for a lot of people with less ability to be able to work on it together and make it look cohesive?
And that was just the beginning of my questions. What about method? Should we sponge in areas of green? Or maybe we should make a stencil of different sized leaves, getting smaller as they got further away? Or could we just use brushes to paint it? What was the best way to do this? What about colors? My immediate boss had mixed up nine greens, but I also needed two colors for the branches and three colors for the oranges, and that’s not counting the rose bushes or the birds. And did I mention that we didn’t really have a good reference to look at? We only had one small picture off the computer and it was really small and we couldn’t see many details. My brain was screaming.
I felt like I really needed these questions answered to come up with viable solutions for the problems I was faced with, but my bosses were busy so I had to just carry on alone.
That’s where I made my big mistake. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33). I should have just stopped, gotten quiet, asked for God’s help and then started. It’s not that hard, but I allowed myself to get flustered and I forgot the very first step.
In Exodus 35 and 36 is the record of how God gave his artists three things. The first was wisdom. Wisdom is how to do something. God also gave them knowledge, or information. And thirdly, He gave them understanding. I believe in this, and I’ve proven it many times in my artwork.
But this time, I left God out of the first part of the project; I got overwhelmed and then instead of relying on God to show me, I relied on sheer determination and pride that I could ramrod it through and accomplish what was needed. But when the pride had nothing substantial to latch on to…Bam! Real terror set in and gripped me hard. My thoughts were bombarded with: “My bosses can do a better job than I’m doing. I’m not as skilled as they are. I don’t know how to do this. What if they hate what I’m doing and don’t let me work on it because I’m doing such a poor job?”
It got worse and worse until I felt like a total failure. Then the stomach problems started, all the stress causing nausea and terrible cramps. The nerves in my gut were recording what was really true. My stomach couldn’t stomach what a low place I had allowed myself to go. I really think my stomach may have been smarter than my brain at this point.
In Chapter Three of The Maker’s Diet, author Jordan Rubin talks about the nerves in the GI tract: “There are nearly one hundred million nerve cells in the gut alone.” Rubin quotes Sandra Blakeslee, a science writer specializing in cognitive neuroscience: “Each of us literally has two brains—the familiar one encased in our skulls and a lesser-known but vitally important one found in the human gut.”
Rubin goes on to say, “Early in our embryogenesis, a collection of tissue called the “neural crest” appears and divides during fetal development. One part turns into the central nervous system, and the other migrates to become the enteric nervous system. . . . We are still discovering ways the enteric nervous system mirrors the central nervous system. Nearly every substance that helps run and control the brain has turned up in the gut!”
The Monday deadline came and though the mural wasn’t done but it looked pretty darn good. The big boss took pictures to the meeting and the imminent pressure was off, but I was still in a lot of agony—mentally, emotionally and physically. It wasn’t until we moved on to more pressing things that I had the sense of being totally free. I told God I was sorry I didn’t go to Him first. In my heart I really let go. Even though it was a desire of my heart to do the mural I had to be totally willing to just let it go and I did. And you guessed it, the cramping knot in my gut relaxed and let go too. In a few days my stomach was totally normal again.
I learned to put God first and listen to my gut. When I let go, I gave in to God and it all worked out great. I ended up doing the mural with several friends and it’s now on the ceiling of the Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip.
QUESTIONS FOR PONDERING OR DISCUSSION
- Can you think of a time when a distasteful circumstance ended up registering its effect in your body? How did you handle it? Did that work for you? Would you do anything different if a similar circumstance should come up?
- Which daily tasks do you typically handle on your own?
- Which tasks or situations do you typically take to the Lord first?
More great chapters in my book WINGS: A Journey in Faith. You can get it from Amazon.