Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Do Not Be Anxious

As I sit here, warm cuppa beside me, amazon.com tab pulled up (grey and ivory chevron rug runner is my obsession right now), I feel that deep pull of anxiety in my soul, and I know that if I give in, it will ruin me.

I've been there before. Where anxiety and depression pull and tug on the heart until you just simply cannot take another minute of the thoughts swirling around in your head. I know all too well how that feels. And while the sources change, the feeling remains the same.

It has occurred to me as time has gone by how much my posts have changed. All I wanted, when I first started blogging, was to feel secure about who I am, to embrace the person that I am, to be free from the constant pressure (it might be pressure I put on myself, but it's still pressure) to show the world at large a perfect face. And I wanted to share with you the things I was learning as I started changing and growing, because these aren't things we should keep to ourselves. I still want to feel secure about who I am and I still want to be able to embrace my own brand of beauty. But lately, most of my posts have centered around parenting, because right now, parenting my two children is consuming me. Sometimes to the point where it's all I think about.

I know in my head that I do have enough. I do have what it takes to parent these two kids, who, by the way, but have been entrusted to me--specifically-- to take care of.

However.

Sometimes, and it seems this happens at the most crucial hours, I totally forget that I have been given the essential skills I need to parent the children that I have. And then I flail around in this ocean of parenting, looking for a life raft, or a Strawberry Shortcake floatie, or something to keep my head above water. And it's only because I have taken my eyes off of Jesus that I'm coughing and sputtering, but something happens in this head of mine that makes me think that He is my last resort instead of my first. But I think He has placed me here, in the middle of this ocean, with no land in sight, because He knows that I need to rely on Him and only Him, and if I see land, I'm going to try to row to shore.

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Last weekend, there was a vigorous debate over the merits of allowing my daughter and her friends to watch a PG-13 movie. While we ultimately decided that the content was a bit heavy for a sleepover (although, I argued in my head, I watched Dirty Dancing at sleepovers when I was 12), the debate didn't end with my daughter, who is decidedly persistent. And last night, there was an energetic and robust dispute over being allowed to watch TV while doing homework, which is against the rules in our house, although it would seem that everybody else in the entire world watches TV while they do their homework. There was a one-sided conversation (with me being the talker and my son being the listener, or ignorer, depends how you look at it) about making friends. And even though most of the time he insists that he doesn't want any more friends, there was a quiet moment yesterday where he looked at me and quietly admitted that it was lonely to sit by himself and draw because he doesn't have any friends in his class, and yes, he wishes he did have more friends.

And my heart aches for my children, for her stubbornness and defiance, and his loneliness.

The ache turns into that anxious tug that won't go away, that threatens to occupy my thoughts and turn the occasional sleepless night into a frenzy of distressing, albeit illogical, speculation.

My mind races with thoughts like am I doing the right thing? and what can I do? and should I do something different? and will they be okay? My thought processes begin and end with the same statement: I don't know what else to do. And it makes me feel helpless, because I feel like I should know what to do, and somewhere along the line, I missed the memo RE: KNOWING WHAT TO DO.

Enter anxiety.

That feeling hovers somewhere in the back of my mind, and while I can distract myself and forget about it for a few minutes, or a few hours, I know it's still there, like a dark cloud hanging over my head, and when I allow my thoughts to center on that feeling, the anxiety rushes in like a fog, smothering me under it's weight.

As I struggled under that weight this morning, thinking of all the things I feared most for my kids in their current state of affairs, it suddenly occurred to me that not only was this weight too heavy, but it was unnecessary. I was not made to carry such a heavy burden, and I was reminded of that when I caught a glimpse of a verse I have written and taped up in my closet.

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}

I am slowly beginning to understand that I'm not out here in the middle of the ocean all by myself, as He is gently, day in and day out, reminding me that He's not providing a life raft because He is my life raft. I need to depend on Him, and only Him, in every situation, not just the ones that I've checked as okay. Compartmentalizing my life and applying the God treatment to certain areas doesn't work. He want access to it all, and I don't need to be so afraid to open all those doors.

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I've tried to memorize Philippians 4 so that I can repeat it to myself when I start feeling anxious, but I don't memorize things all that well, and sometimes all I can get out is don't worry and peace of God. But I know that he knows that what I'm trying to do is remember to put my trust in Him instead of in anything else, because I want that peace in my life.

We may not do this parenting thing perfectly, but at least we aren't doing it alone.

Fear not, 
for I am with you; 
be not dismayed, 
for I am your God; 
I will strengthen you, 
I will help you; 
I will uphold you 
with my righteous right hand.
{isaiah 41: 10}

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