Friday, October 4, 2019

Fighting Anxiety

I was in a kayak once or maybe it was a had two seats and I sat in front which meant the person in the back was steering us, at least that is what I was told. We were on intercoastal waters and at one point we were heading straight for a wall that was covered with spiders that was reminiscent of the spiders from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. At least that was what popped in my head when I saw it. I immediately used my oar to push away from the wall and began to try and steer.  Isn't that what we do, or is that just me?  I'm always trying to steer.

I had never been in a canoe in my life and at one point I was pretty sure that would be the end of me. I was going by way of manatee or spider, not what I would have chosen but it would make for quite the story. As I type this out several years later having never stepped foot in a canoe again I can say I think we're safe from that fate.

As I looked at those spiders on the wall that beautiful sunny day though they were huge.  The largest I had ever witnessed and so many of them that I panicked. I hadn't prepared for this situation. A wall to the right of me and a wall not ten feet to the left of me and the only way out was forward or back the way we had come.  Life feels that way sometimes.

As I look at the storm we currently find ourselves in, not one we haven't been in before mind you, but one I never thought I'd be in again to this degree. and one with several complications,  I can feel the panic rising. I feel like I'm in a canoe and there is a wall of spiders on either side of me and the water is beginning to get waves that are rocking the boat.  There is only one way out, I know that, and it isn't the way I came.  What is done is done and there is no going back. All I can see are the waves and the spiders and I didn't bring a life jacket and I was never a good swimmer and I'm pretty sure there are alligators in that water.  Fear and panic rise. I can't breathe.  I can't see. My inability to rationalize and think are gone and I'm probably going to have a bit of a breakdown before it ends. I'm exhausted.  I need rest. I can't find it. I'm consumed by trying to steer and find a way out.

That is what anxiety and stress does to me.  I'm not sure how else to describe it.  I'm not sure how it plays out for others who go through it. All I know is I am so tired. I am ill equipped to deal with the ongoing stress of trying to steer a boat I don't even hold a license to drive.  I tell myself I need to work more. I need to work more. I need to work harder.  I just need to work more and just work harder and my heart races and time speeds up and slows down at the same time. I can't possibly work every hour of every day. I will die...or maybe I will just wish for it. Do you feel that?  Do you get to that place?  Or maybe you talk yourself out of things. I'm an expert at that. You may not know this but I can't do anything.  It's not true, if I slow down and get out of my own head long enough to see truth, I know that. It's not always easy.  In my memories on Facebook recently I was reminded of a quote from one of my coworkers, she said, "We're drowning but we're still swimming."  I laughed so hard when she said it at work.  I still chuckle when I think about it.

But what if...even though we are drowning we kept swimming?  What if instead of concentrating on the waves and the walls and the spiders and the alligators and whatever else we just kept focused on the shore?  What if we shifted our focus and searched for Jesus in the midst of the sinking ship we think we are in? I'm a runner you know. I mean I don't actually run. I'm a 0.0 miles of actual shoes to the pavement in running kind of girl. If you see that I am running, a zombie apocalypse may have arrived.  I don't run but I'm a runner. I will run away from my source trying to figure out my own problems and stress myself to the brink of a breakdown every single time before I will surrender it to the one who is capable of carrying it for me.  I am a from the belly of the whale kind of girl.  I have no idea why...better story perhaps?  Pure stupidity?  Probably the latter though I wish it were the former.

In all of the worry and working I have forgotten how to dream.  I have forgotten that I moved here in the pursuit of dream fulfillment and I've made it so that all I'm chasing is my own tail. I'm not having fun.  I don't lounge by a pool sipping iced drinks making plans for if and when. I'm living as though I've come here to die.  Not reading books for fear I won't live long enough to finish. It also came up in my memories on facebook recently that a few years ago I had finished reading over forty books in a month. I am unrecognizable to myself. My husband reads more than I do at this point which is unheard of.  As though he is confident that all things will work for the good.  As though he can see the other side of this and we won't drown by exhaustion from treading water for too long. Oh how I long to be more like him in most areas of life.

Living a what if life can be good if your what ifs get you excited about what could be. It's only when you fear the change that the what if can turn to crippling anxiety about whether the change is for the good or for the bad.  I've often said I'm a cross between a Moses and Jonah in my faith but what if I could be David?  What if I could have an even though faith like David? Wouldn't that be easier?  I want to walk through the fire knowing that I don't walk alone.  I don't want to be blinded by anxiety and fear.  I want to head to the battle ground of a sword fight with only a rock and a sling and know that I will not perish because it isn't my fight and that God will win it for me.  I want to be a woman who dreams again, who tells stories and isn't bothered by what others think of her because she isn't writing for them, she's writing to further the kingdom of God.  Where did she go? I really liked her.  She was cool.  What if she could resurface and believe in the One who could see her through the battles she faces and share the stories?  Who knows what could happen....only God.  It's time to draw a line in the sand.  It's time to choose.  It's time to tell the devil who whispers in our ears that we do not belong to him. It's time to fight.  It's going to be hard.  It's going to wear us to the brink.  It's going to be worth it.  Are you ready?


Jennie said...

Love this and this is right where I am! Thank you for sharing! ❤️✝️����

Chris said...

You know, we often forget that even Jesus realized He had limitations in His human form.

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23, NIV).

Jesus has just performed a huge miracle in front of a very large crowd. Some leaders here would have been on a high, right? Imagine the adrenaline. It must have been something like winning a sporting event! High fives for all, right? The energy from the gratitude of the people could have helped to push Him on to the next event. But this isn’t what Jesus does.

He goes by himself, up to a quiet place and spends time talking to His Father, God. He prays. He rests. He does this because He knows what is more important, and He knows that in His human form, He has limitations that only God can replenish.

We, as humans, run into a lot of traps or pitfalls that Satan has constructed. Two of those are here in your writing. One, we always think that when we are in the middle of the storm, we are all alone. We are tricked into believing that no one else has ever gone through something like what we are experiencing. That is a lie.

Two, we try to get out of the storm in our own strength and in our own way because we doubt God's ability to help us.

Look at Peter here.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got out the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31, NIV)

Jesus is part man and part God. He knows what the end result is going to be here. He knows Peter. He loves him so much. Yet, Jesus still tells Peter to come to Him. He provides a place for Peter to grow in his faith and in his relationship with God. When Peter fails due to doubt, Jesus doesn’t pound him on the head or yell at him to get back in the boat and try again. He is gentle. He is firm. He never condemns.

Heather - I love your writing. I love hearing your heart and seeing your search AND, yes, even the struggles you go through. Because it helps me and others to see, we're not alone and when we see you on the other side of this valley, we'll be able to hear the testimony of how God brought you through it and how He was always there walking beside you.

Blessings to you, my sister in Christ! He has a plan! FOLLOW IT!