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God Wants to Remind You

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When your heart and mind feel weighted; when your soul is weary and your body is drained, God wants to remind you that He can give you rest.

When your days feel purposeless and unfulfilled, God wants to remind you that He alone can satisfy.

When your nights are filled with worry, when you are restless and sleep just won’t come, God wants to remind you that His mercies are new each morning and each sunrise brings hope.

When the world speaks of uncertainties and the future seems vague, God wants to remind you that He constant and steadfast; He never changes or moves.

When you are scared and anxiety rules your thoughts, God wants to remind you that His perfect love casts out all fear.

When your questions seemed unanswered and nothing makes sense, God wants to remind you that He directs your path, lean on Him and not your own understanding.

When you look around and suddenly you see things working together for good; when your heart finds a moment in the day to be happy, to rest, to simply trust…then God want to remind you that…

He is here.

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It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

 

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My Mom requested a blog post today and I told her I’d have to see if I had one in me. I haven’t felt much like writing since last week because I feel like this space is for me to offer encouragement and I’m not sure I’ve been worthy of that lately.

But then I remembered the phrase so often heard in association with mental health.

“It’s okay to not be okay.”

I have cried a lot over the past week. I have cried at videos of elderly men singing to their wives outside of nursing homes. I have cried through worship songs because I have felt God’s presence and sometimes because I haven’t. I had an absolutely ugly cry over a little girl talking about Jesus’ heart bursting at the sight of how people have come together. I have cried over how much is different right now. I have cried out of fear. I have even broken down looking at the clothes in my closet and the jewelry hanging on my wall. Yes, you read that right. I haven’t had the need to wear the clothes I normally wear to work. I haven’t “dressed up” in weeks. Leggings and workout clothes are just more sensible when you are working at home and working out at home.

But I have also had good days where I’ve relaxed, laughed and joked, and just let God take over. My husband and I have worked outside clearing trees in the sunshine. Hard work does a body good. I have played basketball and baseball in my parents’ yard, and swung from a tree swing with my nephew. I’ve laughed with family, friends and co-workers through text messages. And I’ve driven the back roads listening to music, and danced in my living room.

My point here is that it’s perfectly okay (and normal) to not be okay right now. We are living during a time in history that we have never known. Obviously we aren’t going to navigate this at the same rate and same level of sanity all day, every day.

But keep a healthy balance. If you need a good cry, have a good cry. Let it all out. But don’t dwell there. Let yourself feel all the emotions and then find a way to turn it around. Maybe it’s music, or a favorite TV show. Yesterday was a a very anxious day for me so I watched bloopers of Friends last night on YouTube because I knew it would 100% make me laugh.

Also, don’t be ashamed of how you are feeling. If someone says “how are you?” then be honest. If you’re struggling, say it. Maybe that person can relate in that moment. If not, maybe they can offer encouragement.

Hang in there. We are all in the same boat. Remember that. This is hard for all of us but together we are all helping to end this. Take pride in doing your part. Simply staying at home is doing your part. Pray for those who are being exposed every day. Count your blessings. And pray.

It’s okay to not be okay, but I keep telling myself, it’s all gonna be…okay.

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Do You See It?

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I see you, families…outside in your yard playing chase, kickball, drawing on the sidewalk.

I see you, Pastors…learning new ways to reach your congregations and encourage them.

I see you, doctors and nurses…working extra long shifts, not eating, barely sleeping.

I see you, people outside hospitals…encouraging and thanking those doctors and nurses.

I see you, musicians, singers, entertainers…going live and giving your fans free shows because concerts have been cancelled.

I see you, Dads…posting videos of yourself being silly with your daughters in choreographed dances.

I see you, teachers…missing your students and still helping them any way you can from a distance.

I see you, parents…becoming home school teachers and making it work.

I see you, restaurant owners….offering delivery and curb side service so we can still
“eat out.”

I see you, truck drivers…making sure deliveries get made when a lot of odds are against you.

I see you, employees…bonding with your coworkers over teleworking and adjusting the best you can.

I see you, neighbors…checking in on each other.

I see you…you there online…making sure people in need are not going without.

I see you, friends…noticing a little more of this world God has made and the beauty of it.

I see you all slowing down. I see God coming into focus. I see hearts opening. I see blessings. I see goodness. I see it all. Do you see it?

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I Got You

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I feel like I earned my Ph.D in anxiety when I suffered through it all those years ago. Seeing everyone around me and our entire world in a heightened sense of fear makes me just want to say, “Hey, I’ve been there. It’s okay. I got you!”

I understand that my anxiety was an internal force and not the result of a global pandemic but the fear is the same, the feelings are the same and the will to trust God is still the best source of peace, but not always an easy thing to do.

Not living in fear is waking up every day with the mindset of faith. It’s stepping out in the midst of uncertainty and trusting. It’s deciding that we are going to believe what God has said.

I remember reading a quote once that said the present we live in is the line we are walking. Imagine each day that you are standing on a line. Anything to the left of the line is your past. Regret, times of sorrow, or maybe a longing for how things used to be, for happier times. Anything to the right of the line is your future. Worries about what may happen or fear of what is to come. Uncertainty.

But today, in this very moment, is where you stand in the middle of the line. It is where the past and present meet. Our goal is to stay balanced on that line, not to step left or right of it. This is a truth I had to learn to get past the worst of my anxiety. I would sit and think about how my life was before I truly knew what a mental illness was, and I’d miss that girl I used to be. I was constantly stepping left of the line. Then I’d worry about how I would get through the tomorrows to come, and if I would ever get better. I spent a whole lot of time to the right of that line. But then I realized that I only needed to take one day at a time. To stand dead center of that line and to let God show me how to balance.

So today as you look left to a time when the word “virus” wasn’t meshed into our vocabulary so often and you felt safe, or when you look right and wonder how all of this will play out and when, simply stop and ground yourself on that line. God’s word says to not be anxious for tomorrow. So decide today to believe what God has said.

I got you… and He’s got you.

 

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From Here…to There

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Me again. Two posts in a week. I have a lot in my head. It has to go somewhere and it’s usually here or in a journal. I’ve decided to share more this week than keep it to myself.

*SIGH*

Have you done as much sighing as I have lately? Ya’ll know I have anxiety issues. If you’ve followed me along this journey, then you know that’s why it began.

A couple weeks ago as the COVID-19 virus began to invade our personal space more and more, I remained relatively calm. I had no idea why. I even saw posts online about how people similar to me, with anxiety, weren’t freaking out. Maybe because we live our lives in a constant state of worst case scenarios.  I really don’t know.

Then last weekend I came down with a terrible headache. I treated it with meds and assumed it would be gone the next day. No go. It continued all through the week. I had a headache in some form every day for seven days.

When I did a few minutes of yoga this morning, I realized my body was completely tense. Every single muscle felt like a tight rubber band, especially my neck. No surprise my head was hurting so badly. I realized that I most likely hadn’t been immune to the anxiety that has come with this virus and quarantining. I think it was most likely running silently in the background, much like an app on your phone that runs and slowly drains your battery. My anxiety has been slowly draining me and affecting my body.

Tonight I came across a post by Kirk Cameron. He spoke about the fear and uncertainty we all are facing right now. If you’ve ever had an anxiety disorder, you know that uncertainty is a nasty little word. We don’t like not knowing what is going to happen. We like schedules, and set dates and times. We like to know outcomes when possible. But this situation isn’t something we can get a definitive answer on. The timeline is sketchy at best.

But as Kirk spoke, he talked about how God is using this time to reset our hearts and refocus our minds. I immediately thought about how God had used my anxiety to do the same thing for me seven years ago. I went through an uncertain time. It was completely new to me and each day was like stepping into the unknown. I had no choice at the time but to fully put my trust in God. To draw nearer to Him. To lean fully on Him and not my own understanding. In the process He reset me and helped me point my focus in His direction.

Where else can we go today but to God? Yes, there is fear and uncertainty. Joshua 1:9 says to not be afraid or dismayed for God is with us wherever we go. Put your trust there. As someone who has walked through the unknown and came out on the other side, I encourage you to let God get you from here…to there.

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Don’t Get Lost in the Dark, Be the Light

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I met Mr. Connor in the Walmart parking lot this morning. It was no mistake. I intended to go to Walmart early today, but God gave us a beautiful spring morning, with birds chirping and a sunrise that distracted me and kept me on the front porch taking pictures. I finally made it to the store, got what I needed and headed out the door through the parking lot. That’s when I saw him. This fragile looking man wearing a mask, gripping a cart with one hand, his other hand severely crippled and held close to his chest. He shuffled his feet slowly as he made his way toward the store and I knew what I needed to do.

I stopped him and asked if he would like help getting his things in the store. He seemed a bit surprised but said yes, if I didn’t mind, he’d like some help. I ran my things to the truck, unloaded them and met him at the front of the store. We made our way to the produce section for some blueberries, then on to frozen foods for some biscuits. He pointed out that he loved blueberries with sugar on them and a hot biscuit. We dropped off his medicine at the pharmacy and he said he’d like to see if there were any birdhouses for the bluebirds in his yard. We chatted along the way and it turned out that he knew my Grandpa and my Daddy’s side of the family. He kept saying I was a “real nice lady” and I reminded him these are hard times for everyone and we have to help each other when we can.

The last items he needed were in the back of the store and I got them while he waited so he wouldn’t have to walk more than necessary. I scanned his items and bagged them, then asked him if he would mind if I paid for them. He handed me his debit card and said “no, I can’t let you do that.” I told him I’d love to bless him today and pay for them. He finally accepted and we made our way to his car. I loaded his things and he just stood there looking at me when I was done. He asked then if he could give me a hug. I told him I wouldn’t want to make him sick and I hesitated, but then wondered when was the last time he may have had a hug. So I leaned in, away from his face and gave him a hug. He said I was the sweetest person he’d ever met and he appreciated me so much.

I got in my truck and cried. Because that’s what I do. I’m a crier. I don’t pretend to be a perfect person. I have many flaws and oftentimes I have selfish thoughts and become easily frustrated. But God put this man in my path today and I was able to bless him and in return be blessed myself.

We are living in unprecedented times right now. I am currently working from home, which is totally new for me. Every day something new closes, more people contract this virus and more people die. It is easy to become bored and agitated right now.

I feel unsettled at times myself, wondering what will happen in our country and our world. It feels similar to how I felt after 9/11. Unsure of what the future held and sad at how much our country had changed. But we all came together and helped each other. It was us against the enemy, not us against each other. So I remind you of the same in this situation. It is us against this pandemic, not us against each other.

Yes this is new to us all. But look around you and see what needs to be done. See who needs help and find ways to come together instead of being further divided. Look for the helpers, BE the helpers. God calls us to be His disciples. It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are or what the situation is. You may be the answer to someone’s prayer. Maybe I was the answer to Mr. Connor’s prayer today. Don’t get lost in the dark. Instead, be the light.

 

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Forever Changed

Born…

Softened clay, molded by the Potter’s hand into a perfect image.

Broken…

Hardened clay. Falling from the Potter’s hand. Jagged edges scattered on the ground.

Forever changed.

Saved…

Picked up by the Potter’s hand. Edges smoothed, fused together in red. Made perfect by grace.

Forever changed.

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Scars and Broken Hearts

I had to remind myself of this today.

Life is hard.

I’ve been to the edge of hell and back with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, been abused by someone who said he loved me, given birth to a child naturally with no drugs and wear an 8 inch scar on my side, with 18 marks from the staples that held it together. I’ve been a single Mom, fought with the devil, and had my heart broken more times than a girl should.

I’ve cried a lot of tears. Felt defeated. Felt insecure. Felt worthless, broken and alone. And felt “not good enough”.

But I’ve survived all that and lived to tell about it. Sometimes stubbornly doing it alone and sometimes finally giving God control.

None of these things, or the residual effects of these things, are battles that are won and then forgotten. They are day to day struggles.

But they don’t have to control you. Let your weakness grow your strength. Let the hard times give you a lesson.

Never doubt your fierceness.

Never doubt God’s power.

And never, ever give up.

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Messy Heart

 

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I logged on here to comment on a post from one of my favorite bloggers…Hi Bill!

And then I noticed that the button at the top that says “write”, was staring at me. Like a little hand up there, waving. “hey, remember me?”

No I haven’t been here for a little while and I definitely don’t post as often as I used to. Maybe you miss me, maybe you don’t but either way I felt like I needed to fill this space. I’ve had a thought rolling around in my mind for a few months and even planned to make this subject my topic at our women’s meeting when I was scheduled to lead it in March, but inclement weather kept us from having our meeting. So the thought sat in my head and the notes sat on my flash drive and now they are landing here. And how they will come out are as much as mystery to me right now as you. I’ll keep writing. You keep reading. And let’s see what happens.

A song. (Surprise!…If you know my writing, then not really.) A song got me thinking. A song about Jesus loving a heart like mine. Not the pretty, shiny heart that sparkles in the sunlight and beams radiant light for all the world to see.

But the messy heart. Oh, that messy heart…the one that gets tangled and torn and falls short of what God intends, expects and desires for me. Do you understand the one I’m talking about? There have been so many times I’ve veered away from the place God intends me to go. Like driving down the road and trying to keep your tires between those yellow lines. Sometimes I’ll veer to the left or slightly to the right and yes, sometimes even go far enough that my tires hit those rumble strips, making that awful noise and giving me a wake up call. Heaven help me on those days!

I’ve said so many times, “God just please be patient with me while I figure out this messy heart.” And I believe He hears that and He understands, and will straighten out that mess as soon as I get out of my own way and let Him guide me.

After all He is the only one who truly knows our hearts. No other human can understand what lies within us or what we struggle with or feel. And the best part is that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less than He does right now in this very moment. He just simply loves us. Unconditionally. Forever. All He’s ever wanted is our hearts.

Even the messy ones.

 

 

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Broken Vases

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We’re all just broken vases trying to keep flowers alive.

I read this quote a few weeks ago and I reread it several times wondering exactly what the author was trying to convey. I suppose it can be interpreted many different ways but if I put my own spin on it, I see it as a perfect quote for someone who has dealt with any type of mental health issue like myself.

We are all broken vases in some way. We have all been cracked or damaged by some type of struggle. Most of us more than once. Or twice.  And sometimes it feels like we are trying desperately, so desperately to keep those flowers alive. To keep some sense of normalcy. To keep from completely breaking down and letting those flowers die.

To me the vase is my shell, my body. The flowers are my spirit, my soul, my mind, my hope, my faith. The thing that threatens those flowers are my anxieties, my hurts, my doubts, my fears, my sadness, my exhaustion.

Some days the flowers prosper, they bud and bloom and light up a room. Some days they wilt, the leaves turn brown and some fall lifelessly to the ground.

Those are the days I need God to step in and breathe new life into those flowers. To breathe new life into ME. Into my spirt, my soul, my mind. To fill me with hope and faith.

No one expects those flowers to constantly stay beautiful. We are all going to struggle. But when you’ve come to the point where the flowers have faded and you just don’t see how you can reawaken them, simply put some new ones in there and start again.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month…..Speak it. Share it.

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“Dear Daughter”

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Dear Daughter,

I promise this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This is not what your high school days should be about. They should be about getting an education without fear, making memories with friends, thriving, learning who you are and who you want to become, and the heaviest things on your mind should be your chemistry test or history project. This definitely isn’t the world that I grew up in and it breaks my heart that fire drills aren’t the only thing you are instructed to prepare for anymore, but that active shooter drills and lockdowns have now become a part of your routine. I thought when you turned 16 that my biggest worry would be your safety driving to school, not your safety while you are there.

It makes me angry and it makes me sad. I don’t have the answers for why this happens or why so much hate has taken over our world, but I know that we can’t let it win. Hate is loud and ugly and gets the most attention, but love is the cure. It is the constant flow within us. The thing that gives us hope. We have to fight back with LOVE. So reach out to those who seem lost, lonely and have no one. Pray for them. Be a friend to everyone and let God shine through you every day. Be the light. Be that city on a hill that we sing about. Don’t fear the future, but be a driving force to change it. One little stone thrown in the water may not seem like much, but it has a ripple effect…and it can make a difference

 

Faith

Hate Has Not Won

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We all woke to the horrific and heartbreaking news Monday morning of yet another mass shooting. Our hearts cracked a little more as we saw the numbers rising and the realization that this time, those numbers would surpass all of the other incidents that were already unimaginable.

As a fan of country music, this one hit a little closer to home. I’ve been one of those concert-goers, in cowboy boots, in outdoor settings, just simply enjoying the music that I love. Even in the uncertainty of the world we live in, it’s still hard to imagine why anyone would rein terror down on an unsuspecting, innocent crowd. We can’t understand it because it is not normal. It is not how this world is supposed to be.

But I have hope…

Hate has not won. We look around us and sometimes it seems as if it has. As if hate has a throat hold on love, compassion and humanity. But no, hate has not won and here is why.

I have read and watched a lot of the stories that have been pouring out since Monday morning. Some things I wish I hadn’t seen. It’s hard as someone with anxiety to not be overcome by the sadness and fear that is related in these stories. But I search out the ones that always prevail in these situations. The heroes and heroines. The selfless acts of kindness and humanity that rise above the nonsense of hate fired from a heart of pure evil.

The people who stopped in the midst of the spray of gunfire to carry someone to safety who had been shot.The girl who picked up a five year old who had been separated from his family as the crowd rushed past and spent hours trying to locate his family. (He was eventually reunited with his Mom and was unharmed.) The men who covered their wives, girlfriends, even people they didn’t know and died protecting them. The nurses, doctors, EMTs and police officers who stepped up as their job calls them to do and went into action without a second’s hesitation. And the thousands who stood in lines, some for five hours or more, to donate blood to the Red Cross.

These are the moments when hate hangs its ugly head and cowers away, because there are still good and kind people in the world whose hearts remain full of what has God instilled in us. LOVE. Love allows the bravery and mercy and self-sacrificial acts to prevail in tragedy.

We cling to HOPE, and TRUST that God continues to be in control and that His design for the human heart is fully intact in the outpouring of love we see when hate attacks.

What Satan means for evil, God will use for good.

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He Prepared Me

God never asks anything of us that He doesn’t first equip us to do.
Read that again….

God never asks anything of us that He doesn’t first equip us to do.

When I read this today it jumped out at me as if it were in bold type, italicized and underlined. I can’t say that God gave me anxiety but I do think He tests us in order to refine us into someone more like Him. 

That being said, I found a sense of braveness in this quote. He knew that this was coming. He knew what my struggles would be.

AND….

He prepared me.

He literally prepared me for this. How do I know? Because I am typing this right now. Because I have been winning this battle for the past five years, even on days when it doesn’t feel like it. Because I got up and went to work today. Because I am not sitting at home scared and worried and afraid to face the day. I can say anxiety has fought me but God equipped me to fight back. He gave me tools. He gave me a patient family, a wonderful church, friends, books, prayers, love, kindness of strangers, music…and strength, hope and a desire to press on.

Wherever you are…you are equipped. You are prepared. I guarantee that you wouldn’t be in this battle, this decision, this season of life, whatever it may be, if you weren’t. Look around you and use what God has given you to persevere. Don’t raise that white flag to the enemy that seeks to destroy you.

God has your back. 

 
 

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This Is My Story…

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I know you all are aware that I have a mental health disorder and thank you for following me on this crazy ride the last few years! I have given bits and pieces of my story over the years but I don’t think I have ever told my whole story or my entire testimony so that is what this blog post is about. It’s a fairly long read but if you make it through to the end, thank you. And if you can relate, please share, share your own story. Talk to someone about mental health. It’s okay to say. It’s okay to not always be okay. And it’s okay to get help.

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In October of 2011, I was a normal, healthy girl in love with her life. I have always been slightly introverted and I would say as a child I was a bit nervous and OCD, but for the most part it didn’t keep me down. I considered myself a strong woman and I tried to always look at the positive side of things.

But in November of that same year, I began the hardest journey, to date, of my entire life. This was in spite of finally having a healthy relationship with a man who made me feel safe and loved and cared for.

In October, I began having some health issues that required tests and a procedure. Of course, all of these issues caused me concern and I began to worry. I prayed about it often but instead of trusting in God to bring me through and trust in His plan for me, I chose the worst possible scenario and ran with it. I ran fast and furious.  In my mind, I was picturing the most horrible outcome.  That was my first big mistake and I have since learned that this is a classic trait of someone with anxiety.  One of my favorite speakers, Joyce Meyer, likes to call it evil foreboding. Predicting the worst for your own future. This is where the devil began his stronghold on me. I was depressed in the weeks leading up to my procedure. By the time the day arrived I was a complete mess, which was out of the ordinary for me at the time.

As it turned out, everything was normal. Nothing to worry about. But two days later, the result of my stress and worry emerged in a way that I will never forget. It was absolutely the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I went to take a shower and suddenly felt as though I was dying. I couldn’t breathe, my chest hurt, my arm was numb and I had the worst feeling of doom. Everything was out of control and my head was spinning. I was certain I was having a heart attack. I screamed for my daughter and she called my Mom because my (now) husband was at work. She took me to the ER and after running some tests, the Dr. told me I was slightly dehydrated but everything else appeared normal. Then he told me that he felt certain that I’d had an anxiety attack. My first thought was no, not me. I don’t have those. I have been through far worse and survived. I am stronger than this, I thought. But at that moment I felt so weak and defeated. Ashamed and embarrassed.

I went home and tried to rest. But in the coming days and weeks, I kept remembering how awful that day was. How scared I was and how my life felt out of control in those few minutes. I worried that it would happen again. It was constantly on my mind. And that’s where the vicious cycle began, because fear produces fear. My fear of an anxiety attack fueled my anxiety and created more attacks. Toward the end of that month we had tickets to see a concert that I had been excited about for months. I was nervous about it but determined to go. I made it through the first opening act but by the time the second came on, I was a mess. I began to feel as if the music was louder than it should be. The people around me seemed too close and the building I was in seemed to be closing in on me despite its massive size. I had to run. I had to get out of there. I told Greg I needed to go to the bathroom and bolted. I stood in the stall crying and shaking. When I finally went back into the hallway I couldn’t bring myself to go back in. By this time Greg was there by my side and we walked circles around the outside hallway until it passed and I was able to go back in, but the night was ruined and I felt horribly guilty.

I managed to get through the holidays with a few attacks here and there but in January, the real nightmare began. I thought I had been through the worst of it but I had no idea what was coming. If it’s possible for the devil to have you in his grips, then I am certain I was there. His stronghold on me became tighter until I had nothing left to fight back with. I basically became a complete mess. I couldn’t leave home. I couldn’t even get out of my bed. I would sit and wring my hands, grip the sheets on my bed and constantly twist my hair. I had so much nervous energy. I would dig my nails into my thighs because in that moment it felt good to feel even a little pain. This may make no sense but I would soon learn that this is why people with these kinds of disorders turn to cutting. Think of a pot about to boil over. It will explode under pressure. Any type of physical pain will relieve the mental pain and take over, giving a release. By this point I was scared of going crazy, of losing my sanity. I was in a war zone. A battle for my own mind.

It’s very hard to explain how I felt and unless you have been there, I doubt you could ever understand. I began having multiple panic attacks a day. Not just anxiety but panic. The best way I have ever heard anxiety and panic attacks described was this: Imagine there are a group of hungry, angry lions at your feet, baring their teeth and growling. You are tense and nervous, sweating and shaking. Fear of not knowing what they will do grips you. Now imagine those lions following you wherever you go. You are sitting at work trying to focus with those lions breathing down your neck. You are at home trying to help your child with homework and the lions sit at your feet, roaring. They keep you on edge in a restaurant, at church, in your car, during a conversation with your husband. You constantly fear them. But you know they aren’t real. They are fear in its most epic form.

I tried to keep my regular schedule at work but it was just too much. I missed an entire week of work in February. I went back the next week and missed only a little time but the following week I was so emotionally drained  and still anxious, that I missed another whole week. At this point, my paid time was being depleted and although my boss was very understanding, I was told that due to the lack of paid time left, I was in danger of becoming a part-time employee with no benefits. This was somewhat of a wakeup call for me. My daughter relied on me and I had to keep my job to take care of us.

At this point, I saw no other answer but to start taking medication. I was against it completely at first. I have never liked taking medicine that alters my emotional health.  I was on depression medication in my early twenties and after only a couple doses, I was feeling completely out of sorts. I was ready to climb the walls. So naturally I was scared what this would do to me and I was afraid to be reliant on medication to be who I was supposed to be but I felt I had no choice.

I also began counseling. This too, is a great way to cope but again, it just wasn’t for me. The counselor wanted to talk about my childhood and my divorce and how all of that affected me. I’m sure some of it had an affect but I wasn’t interested in diving back into my past. I wanted to be healed. As much as I wanted to know why this was happening I wanted more to know how to fix it. And I wanted to believe that God and I should be able to handle anything together.

But in that moment, I felt more removed from God that I ever had in my life. Where was he? I certainly didn’t feel Him with me. The medication finally allowed me to calm down and live a somewhat normal life but I could tell that it was only masking the anxiety. I was so dependent on it. I was calm but I was also becoming more depressed. I still wasn’t myself. So after three months, I decided to stop taking it. It was in this moment when I realized God was listening after all.

I had prayed about stopping the medication. I had read that it wasn’t easy to come off of it and that it may very well put me into a tailspin. I prayed for days about when to stop. Finally one morning, I felt like God was saying today is the day. I was nervous about going to work without the medication to get me through. I said “Okay, God I will trust you, but I am going to need your help, in a big way.”  I was at work for a couple of hours and around the time I would have normally taken my medication, the school nurse called and said my daughter wasn’t feeling well. I picked her up and took her home. It turned out to only be a simple stomach ache, but I realized that God had kept His word. He provided a way to get me through the day without my medication. Being at home that day gave me a sense of peace and I have not touched that medicine since then.

That’s when I realized there was only one way I could be cope. The answer I had been searching for was there all along. My Savior. It was time to put my problems back into God’s hands and take them out of my own.

I began to pray. Every day. Faithfully. Having grown up in church, I had called on God many times in my life and He always answered and carried me through. But this time was so much different. I think it’s easier to cope with pain and brokenness when you have someone to blame. You can ask God to heal a broken heart that someone caused you. You can ask God to help you find a new job and sustain you financially after the company you worked for went under. But we don’t always know why our minds are so tired and confused. Yes, there are things in our past that can have an effect but sometimes there aren’t. We don’t often realize that there is an enemy who is seeking to destroy us. This is when you have to dig deep and really listen to what God is saying. And believe me I didn’t always want to listen. I wanted a solution and I wanted it RIGHT NOW. I was impatient. I would have a fairly good day one day and the next day would be a disaster. I would get so frustrated with God. I would be on my knees crying out, fists to the sky asking why? why? why? WHY are you doing this to me? I am as faithful as I can be. Where are You when I need you?

But as we all know, He never leaves. He was still there. I was the one who kept moving. Moving toward a quicker solution. Being impatient. Taking back the things that I put in His hands when I didn’t see immediate results and not really listening to what He was saying every day. I also realized just how the devil works in our lives. The closer I got to my Lord, the more the devil hated it. Things would happen to cause me a setback. Those moments when I would get angry at God for not completely healing me, those were the moments the devil took pleasure in. Those were his doing. Those were the days I had to fight him the hardest and just meditate on what God could do FOR me not what the devil could bring AGAINST me.

For the first time in my life, I had a real relationship with God. Not just an admirer of His, but a follower. I was being refined through the fire.  But it’s not an easy road to take. In Luke 9:23 Jesus says “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”. For a long time I thought this meant that my anxiety was my cross to bear. That it was the thing I was burdened with and must deal with. But I learned that Jesus meant the cross just as He saw it. His death. We must die to ourselves in order to completely follow Jesus. And I will tell you, this is hard and there are still times I struggle. Because the closer you get to Him, the more the devil wants to tear you down. See, the enemy hates for us to have a relationship with God. He wants to remind us of our flaws and shortcomings and burdens. I am sure the devil thinks he had one over on me but in simply speaking the name of Jesus, he has to flee. This is not to say that he doesn’t still try. I would like to say that my anxiety is non-existent but I can’t. God didn’t take it all away. Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms US in the storm. And there is a reason. He isn’t finished with me yet. I need to be reminded often to come back to Him and I need to be able to look at someone and say I know exactly how you feel because I have been there and from time to time I am still there….BUT my anxiety is more manageable because of the One whom I cast my burdens on. Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 to “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The devil cannot once again maintain a grip on me because my faith rests in my Savior. It may be tested from time to time but I am promised in John 16:33 that “in Christ I may have peace. In the world I will have tribulation. But take heart; Jesus has overcome the world.”

Sidenote: I just want to say that although medication and counseling didn’t work for me, it can be a tremendous help for so many others. Don’t feel ashamed if you need medication to get you through and if a counselor is someone who can help you sort out your issues. I will also say that if those things don’t work for you and you are at a loss, turn to God. He is waiting.

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If The Cape Fits…

On Friday I learned about a campaign that is helping to spread the word, positive word, about mental health disorders. They asked that you post a selfie holding up four fingers and to use the hashtag #1in4, showing that one in four Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness. I am one of the four so I felt compelled to post the selfie and help the campaign. I started writing a caption for my picture and began with “I am 1 in 4 who suffers…”. Then I paused and thought about that word: suffers. I decided that I didn’t want that to be the word that defines me. So I switched it to: “I am 1 in 4 who daily overcomes the struggle with a mental health disorder” because in the big picture, yes I have times I suffer but at the end of the day when I have OVERCOME the battle with anxiety; that is what I want people to know about, because this is no easy feat.

anxiety-girl

I saw this cartoon a while back and I had to laugh because there are times that I am that girl. I can go from mole hill to mountain in 0.5 seconds. But there are other times I feel that I earn that superhero status for different reasons; when I am the girl who overcomes and doesn’t just suffer.

The definition of a superhero is someone who has amazing abilities and battles a villain. You may think that anxiety is my villain but the devil is actually my archenemy and anxiety is his kryptonite.

But in God I have the perfect ally. He gives me the courage and the strength to fight and each day that we overcome the enemy I can consider myself to be at superhero status and here is why:

  • I am courageous when I stick it out at work and not run when I am having a bout of anxiety. I use my strongest tool: prayer. I put on happy music and I walk around the building and I overcome.
  • I am courageous when I try something new or push myself out of my comfort zone. In a couple of weeks I am participating in a comedy mystery play as a benefit for our Relay for Life team. I was asked and I said yes because it will make me step outside of that box that says anxiety controls me.
  • I am courageous when I am open and honest with someone about my disorder. Whether in front of my women’s group at church, with a total stranger, a friend or on this blog, I use my pain for a purpose: to help others. And trust me when I say that this takes a lot of nerve.
  • I am courageous each time I choose to think positively instead of negatively. This may seem like a simple thing to those who don’t know the grip of anxiety but it’s no easy task when your mind is wired to default to gloom and doom thinking.
  • I am courageous when I choose to let God be my strength and at times that can be the most courageous thing a person with anxiety can do. This can oftentimes be hard even for someone who doesn’t have a disorder but for those who do and want to constantly be in control, it requires handing over your fears, your doubts and total control of your thoughts and just trusting.

So when I find myself in a place where I feel less than confident and maybe a little bit of a failure, and when the enemy tries to squash my super powers, I will remind myself that I am worthy of a cape (teal, please) and exploit my unique powers for the greater good!