The Fetal Position

June 01, 2014

Reblogged from: Todd Rossnagel

Today’s meditation is on the 15th verse of Psalm 139.
As we Louisiana Methodists prepare for Annual Conference, our Bishop, Cynthia Harvey has asked us to use the 139th Psalm as our guidepost.
I have decided to meditate on this Psalm, verse by verse, day by day.
We’ve come to the 15th verse.
Psalm 139:15 (NIV)
My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
If you search the phrase “secret place” in Scripture, you’ll find both benign references to a literal secret place as well as deeper, more contextual references to the “secret place” as being one of our divine relationship with God.
Psalm 91:1 is an example of this.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Matthew Henry breaks this verse down as an example of God’s closeness:
Great security is promised to believers in the midst of danger. Wisdom shall keep them from being afraid without cause, and faith shall keep them from being unduly afraid. Whatever is done, our heavenly Father’s will is done; and we have no reason to fear.
It makes complete sense to interpret the “secret place” in verse 15 of Psalm 139 as our mothers womb.
By the way, it was only recently in the history of humankind that the scientific secret of the womb was revealed, thanks to ultrasounds.
Prior to that, it was indeed a secret place.
But we are holy people – so let’s look at this with holy eyes.
Let’s look beyond the womb as being just a safe biological place for mothers to carry their offspring.
Instead, let’s see it as our literal place of birth…the place where God started His masterpiece.
When we do that, we realize two things:
First, it is indeed a secret place – a holy place where we, as Matthew Henry says, “have no reason to fear”.
Secondly, we can more fully understand the fetal position and how spiritual it is.
We’ve all had those moments of trauma that shake us to our core – literally bringing us to the ground with knees curled up as tightly as possible – straight to our gut, and right under our chin – all the while, clutching ourselves in complete fear.
Scientists say this position is natural because, in times of stress, we are protecting our vital organs.
Silly scientists – they’re missing the spirituality of it.
It’s also a position where, when we shut down, we physically mimic returning to the position where we first experienced peace, comfort…and, as the psalmist proclaim in the 15th verse, the place where we first experience God.
In my late 20′s, I experienced massive panic attacks.
So massive that when they hit, I literally felt like I was dying.
The entire Earth was spinning, non-stop, out of control…
Full on fear, made worse by more fear, and then more fear and then even more fear.
I remember those nights – curled up on my cheap mattress…
Making deals with God.
Praying some more.
Crying some more.
All of it - in a fetal position.
Praying for comfort.
For peace.
For safety.
It now makes complete sense why I was curled up in a fetal position.
Instinctively, like a penguin, I wanted to crawl back to that secret place…that secret place where I was woven together by the master craftsman.