Spotting a mouse can save your soul. The unfortunate experience of discovering a mouse, or clear signs of a mouse's existence, is something we all would rather avoid. We don't go yell on rooftops if we have this happen to us, instead we quietly try to deal with the situation on our own. We are veterans of hiding our shame. We try to hide our anger issues, our gripping anxiety, and our strong self-doubt, but just like house-mice, they pop up from time to time. In both situations we cannot pretend that they will just go away, and in fact, if we face them honestly it can be to our eventual benefit.
Starting with the obvious it is never a good idea to pretend that the mouse you saw will disappear. First, mice can contaminate a lot of food and clothing very quickly; they void about 50 pellets a day. Second, they reproduce at an alarmingly fast rate. Bill Bryson points out that “two mice, breeding prolifically, could theoretically produce a million descendants in a year.”
Similarly when our emotions overcome us we should not simply chalk it up to a bad day or tell ourselves that it was just a one-time ordeal. This just leads to more damage as our anger grows, our pains deepen, and our self-esteem drops. The best option forward is to get an honest look at the situation and then to get to work.
Richard Rohr points out that “before the truth 'sets you free,' it tends to make you miserable.” It is very difficult to look behind the veil of our persona and see what is going on beneath the surface, because we know that it is ugly underneath, hence the veil. What's great about this exploring is that we get a glimpse of God at work in our life.
God knows what's going on behind our happy face that we put on most days. He sees more than our ugliness as well; He sees the amazing person that He created. God knows our deepest fears, our darkest secrets, and our hidden desires, and yet, He loves us passionately. Jesus willingly went to the cross to bear our shame because it was a joy to Him to know that He was setting us free.
It is a gift to us when our emotional outburst reveals an area where God is at work, and He calls us to join Him in the process. This work takes many forms from dealing with past wounds, broken relationships, or unhelpful vices. It is always a call to become better acquainted with our sense of identity, often pushing us to let go and fall back into the arms of a loving God. The first step for many is admitting to a trusting and caring person that we do have a problem, and letting them be the loving voice of God in your life.
For some this may seem really overwhelming as it feels like all you have is one emotional outburst after another, but the good news is that this means God is involved in your life and is beckoning you to become a more mature you. Tim Keller honestly admits, “sometimes God seems to be killing us when he's actually saving us.” So the next time that you go off your handle at your boss, spouse, or random driver that cut you off, view it as an invitation from God to take a look behind the curtain of your own soul, and you may be surprised to discover the healing hand of God at work.