I’m tired. I’ve been sick this past week. Not enough to knock me out, but just enough to sap all my energy. Do you notice that when you are out of energy that you just don’t seem to care as much? It seems I have had a much easier time letting things go this week simply because I don’t have the energy to worry about it. Honestly, I’ve been more relaxed. I don’t know if you find this to be true or not. It comes back to perspective, doesn’t it? My life seems to be continually circling back around to that word: perspective.
Check out the definition for a second:
a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
I really think I am going to put that word in large letters on my bedroom wall. If I could just go through everyday choosing the “particular attitude” that God wants me to choose, it seems like so many things that I worry about would not be nearly as important.
What is happening to my heart when I worry? Does it begin to choke on the rising levels of anxiety? When I let all my needless worries go, can it breathe again? My heart is a vital part of the equation that needs to be well-tended and conditioned; ready for anything. Do I give it the attention that it needs? Do I treat my heart like it is more important than what people see? I’m afraid the honest answer is no.
It seems easier to take a few minutes to fix up the outside than to commit to doing the work that it takes to surrender the inside.
1 Sam 16:7 says: “…For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
What does God see when He looks at my heart? Does he smile and say, “Well done.” Or does His smile fade, knowing that He needs to discipline areas that are being neglected? I believe He might see something that looks a little like this:
There is love, but there is also selfishness.
There is compassion, but there is also impatience.
There is occasional peace, but it continually gets drowned out by anxiety.
There is humility, but the battle with pride is real.
There is a desire for order, but it is easily derailed by procrastination.
There is a willingness to surrender, but a drive to control.
There is a creative soul, but it is inhibited by fear.
…there is imperfection and weakness, but God.
But God. If I just take anything that follows “but” and surrender it to God, He IS BIG ENOUGH. He covers it all. He takes the dark, ugly parts of our heart and makes them clean. As long as we are on this earth, there will be a constant battle in our hearts. But the good news is we don’t have to fight it! We are on God’s team.
I learned this a little while back and it is a subtle difference but don’t miss the powerful truth:
God is not on our side. We are on His.
I learned this while studying Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst, and it has changed my perspective ever since. God doesn’t move. He isn’t up there choosing sides. We need to ABIDE in Him. We need to choose His side, give Him our battles and let Him do the fighting. I explained this to my kids when I first learned it. They had to understand that every time they made a choice to disobey that they were choosing the wrong team. Now when I see them making wrong choices or going in a direction that is going to get them into trouble, all I have to say is, “Go Team!” and they immediately understand what I am referring to and they (for the most part) quickly get back on the right team.
What does God see when He looks at your heart?
Who is fighting your battles?
Whose team are you on?
Let these questions settle on your heart like seeds in soil, and let God be the one who tends the growth.
Anxiety reared its ugly head a couple of weeks ago. I should have known it was coming. This time of year is always especially hard for me, but I thought this year was going to be different. This year I was ready. I knew the post-Christmas stress would be coursing through my body. I knew that every year I bottom out after the emotional high of the Christmas festivities, the annual trip to California, and the sweet times we spend with family members that we don’t see often enough.
I knew all of this. But it still got me.
It’s funny how harmless that word can look on paper but as I did battle with it earlier this month, I realized, once again, how powerful it really is. Before I share with you this part of my journey, I want to be very clear that this is MY story and everyone is different. I am not a doctor; I am not here to fix you. Your mind and body are not something to mess around with. Make sure you are taking care of yourself in a way that is right for you and seeking help from professionals when necessary. I am simply here to hold your hand as we wade through the muck of anxiety together. This is a little long, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. I hope it speaks to you and that even just one person is blessed and strengthened by my vulnerability.
For over a year now, every time I mention my struggle with anxiety to my doctor she recommends Prozac. And every time I am conflicted, asking myself questions like: “Has it really come to this? Am I really at a point where this needs to be chemically managed? Is this right for me?” And because I could not answer these questions to the point of peace in my spirit, the prescription just sat there…unfilled.
Fast-forward a year and I saw my doctor again. She was still confident that I could benefit from Prozac. This time I even went one step further and filled the prescription. But the bottle sat in the cupboard. Those questions were still unanswered. I still had this nagging check in my spirit that this wasn’t for me. But I kept those bottles there, just in case. And I waited. Waited to see if it would get bad enough to go ahead and see if maybe the medicine was the answer.
Christmas came and the craziness ensued. And as the stress increased, I made a decision, “I will wait until a time that the anxiety seems particularly flared up and try the medicine.” I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t seek the Lord about it. I just decided.
After our travels to California, I felt the usual emotions rising to the surface. Sadness most of all…almost a let down feeling…because it was all over, and once again it did not feel like enough. Not enough time to visit, not enough time to relax, and I was nowhere near ready for it to be over. I start to feel anxious that all the time I spend preparing was wasted on the wrong things and I didn’t pay attention to what mattered. I spent so much time checking things off my list that by the time I relaxed all the things I had been looking forward to were nearly over.
Time doesn’t stop and wait for us to be ready. It keeps moving forward, like a powerful wave. Daily life had to resume whether I was ready or not. And after a particularly terrible day with all three of my children, which ended with me, in tears, banishing MYSELF to my room; the surge of anxiety and adrenaline coursing through my body, I made a decision. The next day I was going to start the medicine. Enough was enough.
Without praying about it, without talking to anyone I just took that first pill and waited. Both the doctor and friends who have taken Prozac told me that I would know within a couple of days. Well, what I knew by the end of that first week is that I had made the wrong decision. I was ALL OVER THE PLACE! I was crying more, easily offended, anything I had been anxious about before seemed magnified a hundred times over. I purposefully didn’t tell my husband that I was going to start the medicine because I wanted someone to see the change in my behavior objectively. Only this is not the kind of change I was hoping for. This was so much worse than before. And as I sat and told him what I had done and asked him what he thought, I already knew my answer.
The things in my life that had been causing the anxiety were real things. Hard conversations that I was avoiding, guilt over not being everything to everyone, dwelling of my fear of the unknown. These were not things that were going to go away by taking medicine. Now, again, I want to say that there is a time a place for this medicine and it has helped a lot of people that I love, but it is not a magic pill to take away the hard things of life. I wanted to escape what I had to do, not face it. I began to feel like Jonah.
I stopped running and I faced God. I faced Him and I surrendered, yet again. We never run out of chances with God. I love that! He takes us back EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. As I prayed and asked God for direction, He gave me the strength to have those hard conversations, he led me to a friend whose words were a balm to my fractured soul, and He, once again gave me His peace, that kind of peace that doesn’t make sense, but yet it is there. The kind that leads me by still waters and restores my soul (Psalm 23).
Its been a week that I have gone without the medicine, and instead have taken my time, my fears, and my failures; laid them on open hands in front of Jesus and said, “Take them. Show me what to do. Give me the strength to do it, and the strength to let the rest go.”
I am praying for you, my sisters with anxiety. This is a hard road, but we know who to follow. May we be reminded daily to not take our own way but trust that He knows what He is doing. All we need to do is follow.
Happy New Year? I don’t know if I feel happy about it. Yes, I love the idea of a fresh start but I also mourn the fact that the magic of the Holidays is over. I love Christmas, but even more, as I’m sure so many other busy moms do, I love a BREAK! I so look forward to having a couple weeks off to regroup and rest. But when it goes by in a blink of an eye and I didn’t get to do HALF of the things I had hoped or dreamed about doing, it just seems a little depressing. And most years that puts me into a bit of a funk when it is all over. This year has been a little different and I think I can point to why. My focus is different. It’s not perfect. I’m still struggling, but I am grabbing a hold of it before it gets away from me. I am not looking back and dwelling on what WASN’T, but I am looking at where God has me right now. I am making a conscious effort to look at each day according to the Spirit. This means that I have to continually quash the desire to live according to my sinful nature, my selfish one. The one that wants to do things half way because to do it ALL and to do it WELL seems overwhelming.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;
but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
So the more I live in accordance with the Spirit, the more my soul is at peace. I am no longer striving to complete my endless to-do list but I am striving to accomplish what God has for me to do in that moment only. As we trust and follow His leading, step by step, the rest will come.
If I had it my way, I would have posted here about a week ago. But I had to let it go and know that God’s timing is better than mine. We traveled over the holidays and when we came back I felt like life went from 0-100mph in no time flat! There were suitcases to unpack, clothes to wash, jet-lag to get over, teenagers to get out of bed and off to co-op, meals to plan, shopping to be done… Finally somewhere in there I broke. I couldn’t do it all or be it all. I had to let go of my expectations, get myself back into God’s Word, and figure out where HE wanted me to start. Once I began to do that, the peace came trickling back in. It always seems to come back to spending that invaluable time with God.
The more you spend time with God, the more you get to know him.
The more you get to know Him, the more you fall in love with Him.
The more you fall in love with Him, the more you trust him.
The more you trust Him, the more you surrender to Him.
The more you surrender to Him, the more you will have the peace, freedom and victory that only comes from Him.
Take it one step at a time. He will meet you where you are.