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Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

yes
We live in an anxiety-ridden society, with stats on people dealing with anxiety-related disorders only climbing.

It would seem that in my fifteen years of working, primarily, in high schools, anxiety has become a regular conversation among students and staff.

Anxiety does not express itself the same in all individuals. There is no more a stereotypical sufferer of anxiety than there is a stereotypical female, for it manifests within the strengths and weakness, the experiences and voids of the individual. It has many faces … sad, fearful, gregarious, kind, angry, happy … as many faces as the individuals who live and struggle to live their best life.

I do not know of a ‘cure’, I am not a certified counsellor, I am no expert, nor even scholar in the field of anxiety. I do know it … first person, professionally and through living vicariously through individuals who I love. None of that makes me an expert.

Something we can do, when helping to love people through the reality of anxieties, is to build them up. Specifically, we could remind them (gently) who God says they are, if not in words, through our care of them, redirecting, reassuring and refilling their dark self-thinking and self-talk with the truth of who they are, in the eyes and heart of the Creator … their Creator.

1 John 3:1a tells us that we are so loved by the Father that we are his children.

1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that we are God’s temple, where his Spirit lives.

Romans 8:37 says that we are more than conquerors!

1 Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Truly, we are worth the world to Him!

Perhaps they could relate and be encouraged by the Lauren Daigle song You Say, which might help them to hear the encouraging reminders of the overcomers they are through Christ.

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity,

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
Oh, I believe

I am not an expert, and I am not saying that this is the cure for the very real, very complex struggle with anxiety. Yet, if someone we care for is unable to think and see things clearly, perhaps reminding them of the positive, pure and powerful identity that they are in Christ, wouldn’t hurt.

 

 

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IMG_4194How are you, really?

This is not a question that can be answered with that four-letter F-word (fine).

Really, how are you?

Got some worries? Got fears? How about disappointments? discouragements? … heartbreaks?

Is your mind cluttered with a never-ending to do list? To pay list? People whose needs need to be met list?

Is your prayer list filled with ill health? more bills than money? loneliness? job searches? broken relationships? home searches? sadness?

Jesus understands the tough stuff of life, and much of his message, when he was on this earth, was instruction on how to give our anxieties, our sorrows, our frustrations to him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”  (Matthew 11:28)

“Come to me,” he says, “cast your anxieties on me for I care for you” (1 Peter 5:7)

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

I do not have answers for life’s difficult days, but I know who does.

More than that, I know that even though I do not have the answers, even though I do not see the big picture, even though I do not understand human suffering, “I have the God of hope that fills me with unexpected joy and peace, as I trust in him” (Romans 15:13). That hope is available to all who trust in him, who had the keys of our lives over to him.

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messy

I walked by the mirror in my bathroom and almost audibly shrieked (but I didn’t because it was 5:05am). I had been too tired the night before to blow-dry my hair after washing it the night before, and the results were … Ursula-like (think the villain in the Little Mermaid movie).

I knew a straightening iron would be the most important tool of the day to come!

Messy hair makes me laugh. Well, of course it does, but I laugh because it reminds me of what my insides are like.

I think that most of us do well at cleaning ourselves up, and presenting ourselves to the world as put-together, calm, cool and collected.

I also think that, much of the time, we are a little messy on the insides.

Outwardly, we walk with grace, while stumbling through our days full of stress, worry, anxiety and regrets.

Outwardly, we sit, regally, while inwardly sitting in the remnants of the refuse that has been heaped into our lives, by others or by our own choices.

Outwardly, we smile broadly, while the tears of loneliness, failure and sorrow are held in the ducts of our eyes until we reach our vehicle, our pillow, our shower where they will flow like a waterfall with no end.

And so messy hair makes me laugh. Dust that covers my house makes me laugh. Sticky floors make me laugh. Laundry piles makes me laugh. Words tumbling out of order or words that fail to come when we just can’t think of that one word, make me laugh. They make me laugh because they are real. They are out there for all the world to see.

They are obvious, and messy and real.

The great thing about the messes in our lives is that, once they are obvious to all who can see them, hear them, experience them, they can be dealt with, cleaned up.

Life is messy, on our insides as well as on the outside.

Don’t be afraid to let your mess show to someone … they might even pitch in and help clean it up.

 

 

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I ate them all!

“I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
Satisfaction”

It started as a normal Sunday, but by nightfall I had eaten far too much.

Thankfully it had been many weeks, even months, since I had last experienced a day when I went searching for satisfaction through my pantry.

I wasn’t hungry for food, I was simply experiencing dissatisfaction in one part of my existence, and thought that perhaps I could find it through the edibles in my kitchen.

By the time I crawled into bed (with antacids strategically placed on my bed table) I was feeling the crash after a sugar high, my tummy was uncomfortable and my satisfaction … still unsatisfied.

My head hit the pillow with guilt and self disappointment flooding my mind. As I drifted off into my food coma, I pondered why I accepted food as a replacement for what I was really desiring satisfaction from?

I expect we all seek out satisfaction in things or people as replacements for what we truly desire or need. Sometime we turn to exercise, or work, or shopping, or gaming, or reading, or drinking, or drug use, or, or, or …

The list of things we go to for satisfaction is great, individual, and all share the same commonality … they do not satiate our hunger, for we hunger for something greater.

What we often desire is peace, relationship, recreational time, to be heard, solutions to our struggles, health, love.

What we often do is seek replacements to satisfy the voids in our lives, and our hearts. In doing this, we feed our loneliness, our anxiety, our heartache rather than placing it in the hands of one who gives true and full satisfaction.

“For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
Psalm 107:9

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

 

 

 

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Working in a high school, I have come to see the various stages of realization that high school is coming to an end, with the celebrations surrounding graduation.

In the past month, I have noted the indicators that fear is setting in with many of the grade twelve students.

Common, graduation-related stressors could be:

  • I don’t know what to do, after high school.
  • Did I apply to the right school? program?
  • All of my friends are going ‘away’ next year.
  • How will I pay for my education?
  • Where will I live next year?
  • What does life look like, after graduation?
  • What if I don’t get into the school/program that I’m hoping to attend?
  • What am I going to do with my life?

With each stressor, comes a response. Sometimes the response is action, but, often for teens (and many others), the reaction is inaction … frozen in one place, immovability … kind of like when one is trying to wake them, on a school day.

These young adults are awakening to the realization that what they have known for twelve years is coming to an end. That life, as they know it, is about to change.

They are anxious, fearful.

The Bible says much about fear and anxiety … mostly in the form of

“do not …”

God is constantly offering himself as the antibiotic for fear and anxiety. He wants us to lean on Him, because when we lean on ourselves, our foundation will not build us up, but let us fall.

What an opportunity, then during the graduation season, to help lead them to the best source of strength?

A few years ago, I had a great realization, while reading Proverbs 3:5:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend on your own understanding.”

Really it was another scripture telling me do not fear, do not be anxious, but it was even more than that. For me, this verse was reminding me that I am not able to understand, to see the happenings in my life, in that vast way that God is able. It reminded me that I need to submit to the fact that “all that I know is partial and incomplete” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The things in life that can leave us fearful and feel anxious, could better be viewed not through the the magnifying glass of us, but the view from space that God has.

When it comes to graduation from high school, college or university, the major decisions that need to be made need to be viewed as small as they really are … they are not decisions for their whole lives, but for the next year. The changes that come may indeed rock their world, but, if they can be reminded to hold on to the One who knows how it will all fit together, they might be able to wait with anticipation and excitement, to see what God will do with the changes in their lives.

 

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The photos came in, by text, one at a time. With each vibration of my device, my eyes struggled to focus, struggled to understand what I was seeing, struggled to understand how the destruction in the images had occured.

My beloved beasty had used our bathroom baseboards for teething purposes, in a most destructive manner. The floor was littered with bits of MFD.

Upon getting home it was obvious that the beast was in a stressful state, panting and drooling.

Our family put our heads together, and agreed that she had been acting strangely for a number of days. The physical  investigation of the beast began, checking to see if she was in pain, ailing from an injury or illness. All I could see was a tooth that looked like it might have a cavity.

The following day beasty and I visited her vet, for confirmation of a tooth ache.

After careful physical examination of the beast, from head to tail, many questions, and a review of her history, the vet said he felt the main problem was not physical, but emotional.

The problem began last week, as my daughter and I prepared to leave for a trip. We were gone three days.

The vet felt that anytime we leave the house, for the next few days (weeks, maybe even months), our beast will fear that we will not return, and the anxiety will surface.

As I drove home from the vet I thought about how, when something is not right, we humans look for physical evidence to solve the problem. I also thought about individuals I know with physically debilitating illness, suffering and pain, who have nebulous diagnosis such as anxiety, that seem to illicit no more than raised eyebrows from family, friends and work places.

I thought about people who have not been physically well, yet no medical test has been able to diagnose the problem, nor a cure (this seems an especially daunting reality, as there is no medical confirmation that it is not all in their heads).

I thought about students I have encountered, going through struggles like divorce, death, moving, developmental disabilities, abuse, etc., that cause pain that no cast or bandage could ever make right.

I thought about individuals who have struggles to see purpose in living, purpose in their life. How getting out of bed takes it all out of them, and the hope of climbing back in is what keeps the smile on their face and the spring in their step all day long.

Then I thought of some of the destructive things these people have done, to themselves or those around them. The negative attitudes, sharp tongues, risky behaviors, and self harm.

Why do we turn our anxiety, our pain to destruction?

Perhaps, like my beast, there is a hindrance to communication. Perhaps, there is fear of being viewed as weak, as lazy, as flawed, as crazy. Perhaps there just are no words, in oral language, to say what is happening.

Perhaps all that is left are wordless sighs and aching groans …

“Meanwhile,
the moment we get tired in the waiting,
God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don’t know how or what to pray,
it doesn’t matter.
He does our praying in and for us,
making prayer out of our wordless sighs,
our aching groans.
He knows us far better than we know ourselves,
knows our condition,
and keeps us present before God.
That’s why we can be so sure
that every detail in our lives of love for God
is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:26-28

Praying for those whose difficulty in life does not have a diagnosis, a cure, or those whose groans come from such a deep inner agony, that their story is told through the destruction at their feet. May God, who we trust will work all things (even groaning and aching things) for good, bless each one today.

Amen.

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This is the first post in a series, about a woman named Amara. It started as an idea for a short story, and it grew as I grew to love this fictional character. There are 20 parts on my site (linked at the bottom of each segment). This summer I have been re-posting from my first year of blogging, so as to avail my writing time to working on the completion of this story, hopefully in book form. I’d love to know what you think.
CW

As Amara sat behind the steering wheel of her car she got increasingly frustrated.

She looked around her empty front passenger seat for clues as to why she might have driven to this professional building, in the middle of her small town. She could not remember why she drove there, all that she could remember was steering her Oldsmobile into this parking lot. It was as if in turning her wheels towards the lot, her purpose for being there had disappeared completely from her memory.

She tried to look around, hoping to see if something around her might twig her memory as to why she had driven there. Nothing sparked her memory.

Maybe if she retraced her steps, but all she could remember was the moment her front tires turned into this parking lot. ‘Oh, what is happening to me? I cannot even remember any other part of my day, and here it is already eleven in the morning!’ The last thing that Amara could remember was climbing into her bed the night before.

That memory was vivid. The striped bedsheets had felt cool on her skin, as she had climbed into her side of the bed. Her side of the bed … after almost ten years of living without him, she still had her own side of the bed. She started every night there, and she would awaken in the morning, never having passed the invisible center line of the mattress. Once, having given herself a talking to, she purposefully lay in the very middle of the bed … and awoke the next morning where she always awoke, on her side of the bed.

As she pondered thoughts of him Amara’s anxious heart ached for his presence, for his companionship, for his wisdom and laughter in frustrating circumstances like this one. He had a way of seeing a lighter side to the tough stuff of life, and he had a way of lightening any anxiety that she was feeling.

But, he was not here with her, and Amara sat feeling more and more frightened. She wanted to let the tears that were filling her eyes fall down her cheeks, but that would be ludicrous for a woman of seventy-two crying like a baby where anyone could see her.

There must be a sensible reason for this odd bout of forgetfulness …

Unfading – Part 2

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Have you ever felt like ‘anxious’ is the most sincere response you could give to the common question, “how are you today?” I would bet my last dollar (which is the bank’s dollar anyway) that your response to that question was not an honest “anxious” but instead the typical response, “fine” with a sugar-coated smile to complete your fakery. I know this because I have done it too, and I think we all have. It is so very difficult to be honest about the things that we worry and fret about.

Anxiety, worry, fear … those are all common feelings to us all. They can rip at our very being, taking over our every thought, controlling our every moment, and even putting our physical health at risk.

Just last night I read the following:

“Do not be calm about anything,
but in everything,
continuing to grasp at control and busyness,
with an entitled attitude,
keep your worry to yourself.
And the stress and anxiety
that overwhelms and suffocates
will eat away at your
heart, mind and very existence.”

Now I do not know if this is original by my friend Jenn, or if she was quoting someone else, but, it really made me stop, and wonder, is that me? Is that how I, really and truly, live my life? Is that who I am in my most furthest place from “fine”, my truest me?

I asked myself, those questions and quickly replied to myself (yes, I do sometimes converse with myself … there is no mind reading in those conversations), “no, not me” … echos of “fine” ringing in my ears.

Then I thought of the day before;

  • I was not calm, but I had so much to get done
  • grasping at control and busyness, but I had to because things needed to get done
  • with an entitled attitude, but they needed to get done right, and that (of course) meant that I needed to do them!
  • I kept my worry to myself, but, well, what good does it do to burden someone else with my problems?
  • my heart, mind and existence were … occupied, full and frazzled … but, but

What my friend had written was the opposite, or flipped version of one of the most encouraging, strengthening, empowering and freeing messages of God to us in our broken, stress-filled, anxiety-ridden world and lives.

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

Why would we choose to allow:

“the stress and anxiety that overwhelms and suffocates to eat away at our hearts, minds and very existence”

over

“the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus?”

Thank-you Jenn, for flipping my thinking!

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Recently I was watching the television show, The Dog Whisperer. The ‘whisperer’ himself made the statement, “human babies are innately curious, but babies are not naturally fearful.”

I am not sure if he is right, but there might just be some truth to what he said (or maybe he is planning on a career change to The Baby Whisperer).

A baby certainly can strike fear into the hearts of his/her parents! When a wee one is whaling wildly (oh how I love alliteration) in the middle of the night, mom and dad can be found running around like whirling dervishes. The needs of a baby, and learning how to communicate with each other early on is something that is a necessity for the survival of all involved! Otherwise the issue of fear becomes the only issue.

This is not unlike our Father-child relationship with God.

He is there and attentive to meet all of our needs, and He is faithful to always give us what we need.

Unfortunately, we often get impatient, and we start to cry like banshees when we feel a need must be met. We lose focus of the provider of our needs and how He is faithful to meet them. We get scared that we are going to starve, and we try to meet those needs ourselves.

1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear …”

As a baby grows in communication with their parents, the crying does lessen (for some it can take a few years … not that I know anything of that … redhead child). The child learns, over time, what has been true since his or her conception … that their loving parents provide the security that the child needs to not experience fear.

We are like that loved child who grows up not concerning himself/herself with things like food, shelter, security because we have learned to relax and rest in the assurance of our heavenly father’s provision.

And, like that child who has learned of their parents love, we have no reason to experience fear.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you”

Luke 12:22-28

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Are you sure she is able to come here on her own? You could meet with the doctor alone today, and bring your mother here for a second appointment?” Dr. Faw’s receptionist said with sincere concern, but laced with the urgency of a vulture. My mother’s delay was impeding the efficiency of this woman’s day. And was that sarcasm I heard when she specifically said “coming here on her own?” Was she insinuating that I should have brought her myself? Well, if only she knew the efforts I had made to try to convince my stubborn, highly independent mother that she should let me pick her up!

“No, I will wait just a couple more moments for her,” I replied to ‘vulture lady’ while smiling my sugary sweetest. She faked an accepting nod and smile to me.

Oh, what was keeping mother? Did she remember? Did she forget where she was to go? Did she misplace her car keys again? Did she go wandering on the trails again, and forget her way home? How can so many possible reasons for mother’s delay go through my head so quickly?

Today was just bound to not go as planned. Joe forgot to set the alarm, and the entire household started the day on the wrong foot by starting late. The kids were late to school, which seemed to be disastrous for both of them. Jilly was irate that we forgot to set our alarm, causing her to have less preparation time to beautify her sixteen year old self. And even five year old Jessica was upset that she did not have time to brush all of her teeth ten times, and refused to say goodbye to me when I dropped her off at school.

On my part, I was frustrated with Joe too. He knew how important today and this appointment were to me. He knew how stressed and uncertain I was feeling about what was going on with my mother and what might be the reason for the strange behaviors my mother had been exhibiting. He knew this was important, and he forgot to set the alarm.

Sigh.

That seems to be happening often … sighing. It is as though there is so much air in my lungs, from holding my breath, that it constantly needs to be forcefully emptied with a full, loud expression of sighing. It seems that I sigh so that my body feels it, and my ears hear it to remind my body that I am still alive. I wonder if I ran away to a tropical island would I still be sighing?

I reached into my purse to check the time on my cell phone, but where is it? Oh no, I left it in the car! Maybe mother had called me with an explanation of why she was not here. Maybe her car wouldn’t start, or she fell, or her alarm didn’t get set (no, that would not have delayed her. My mother has been awakening earlier all the time for the past few years. She even phoned me last week at three in the morning to tell me about her neighbor’s falling the night before. She had awakened, gotten dressed, and had breakfast without noticing the time on any of the clocks in her house. No, an alarm clock was definitely not the reason she was not here).

I stood and approached the Vulture lady, “I just realized my cell phone is in my car, I will go get it to see if mother has phoned me.”

“Alright then,” Vulture lady said sharply, “but I can only hold your appointment time for another fifteen minutes.”

I sighed, “very well then.”

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 3

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