Anxiety/Worry, Control, Faith/Spirituality, fear

Four winning-ways to worry

It feel so good to be back! Did you miss me? Remember when God and I and you all kicked Leukemia in the butt? Well, while I was unconscious and intubated in ICU, apparently my mom promised me that if I didn’t die, she would take my sister and I to Hawaii when I got better. Last week was that “better” and we spent 9 amazing days celebrating not dying! I thought of you often while I was in Hawaii. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

Awhile back, I signed up to receive a “word of the day” email since, as I write, I feel a yearning for better, smarter ways to express myself. Today my word was, nuncupative. Never heard of it? Me either. It means, “spoken rather than written: oral.” I thought, that’s what my blogs were like while I was in Hawaii; Noncupative! I was with my mom and sister and we had several conversations that would qualify as a blog entry.

So, for better or for worse, here is the first entry, post-Hawaii. I know you will be shocked to hear me write, again, on the topic of worry. But as it turns out, being 5 hours earlier than where I live and an ocean away, provides several new and improved modes of worry. I have experience with a couple of them, but it turns out they are heightened when you are 4,214 miles from home “as the crow flies” (that’s what Siri tells me).

The two basics types of worry are one, not getting what you want and two, losing what you have. In regards to not getting what I want, I realized I developed a way to worry that isnt just about fear of what might happen, but more specifically, about what might not happen. And by what might not happen I mean it involves my expectations. I expect my kids to graduate and get good jobs and not live at home forever and ever Amen. I expect my job to be successful and to move up and to the right. I expect my friends to call once in awhile and invite me out. I expect my body to look like a 21 year old, ok, how about 30 yr old, even though I am 47. I expect to be more mature and kind and generous and honest as I age and grow and learn. And I worry. I worry that those things might not actually happen, and God forbid, that they might happen but not in the way I have mapped out in my little head.

And let’s just graze the fear and worry that comes from losing what I already have. Even though my life isn’t perfect, it’s pretty good today. What if, in the blink of an eye it all changes. I have lost many things in the past few years that really side-swiped me. My health being up at the top of that list. As much as I fear not getting what I want in the future, it can also be terrifying to think of everything changing. Today, while it isnt perfect, is also not terrible. And I know how to deal with today because I am in it. What if any of it should go away?

So, those two are pretty common types of worry and ones I hear others talk about regularly. Lucky for you I have identified a couple more, less commonly addressed types of worry to add to your list.

You can worry about what might have happened in the past. While we were in Hawaii we went on a dinner cruise, which in reality was a roller coaster ride of 5 foot waves the majority of the time, up the Na Pali Coast. We had a wonder, and safe time. The next day my sister pointed out how crazy it is that boats can float. The physics of it all started freaking her out. And those waves? Oh my gosh, we could have died! How could a young captain and a marine biologist from the crew save 40 people? The thought of what could have happened started freaking us out! And to top it off, my sister had to leave a day early. After she had been in the air for 3 hours they captain announced that they would be back to their original location within the air. The plane was having mechanical trouble. They sweated bullets for the next hour and after they landed safely, they were towed in to the gate while fire trucks and ambulances stood by on the runway, “just in case.” Now, that there will give one pause to think about what might have happend.

And I just love this last one. I actually think I found a loop hole. God says to only worry about today. Meaning, what’s happening at this very moment. Well, about 8:00 in the morning, Hawaii time, I found myself worrying about a test one of my kids had later that day. When it hit me; it is later today in Illinois! I was free to worry to my heart’s content. It seemed like worrying about the future when it is actually the present has to be ok, right?

But, like I said about this blog, for better or for worse, God has the same answer for you regarding worry; Don’t do it. He says don’t worry 365 times in the Bible. Do the math. He says to be anxious for nothing, but in everything give praise.

The only way to keep our minds and hearts from being overwrought with worry of any variety, is to be grateful and trust Him. Be grateful for what we have and will have, even if it doesn’t fulfill our expectations. Be grateful for what we had and how long we had it, even if we lose it. And be grateful for and trust His sovereign (supreme, absolute, unlimited, boundless, ultimate, unconditional) will for our individual lives.

So, there you go. I have outlined a few ways you didn’t even know you could worry. I am sure you have a few of your own up your sleeve. Regardless of how many avenues you find to worry, remember: the solution is always the same.

 

Brokenness, Faith/Spirituality, Relationships

Myself! Myself! Myself!

I was talking with a friend a couple of days ago who has a story that rivals any memoir I have ever read about dysfunctional families. I told her she should write her own book. She basically told me, “No way! I don’t want to sit down and think about any of that on purpose!”. I get it. I know the feeling. There are some things that we would rather not reflect on intentionally. I bring this up, because although it’s minor compared to much of what I avoid thinking about, I have been avoiding writing about my follow-up story from last weeks blog entry on Hypocrisy. I am not 100% sure why, but I have been finding a lot of other, more pressing things to fill my time. I have an inkling that it is because it was exhausting and profound and difficult.

So, let’s get on with it (read the previous entry if you haven’t already, otherwise I might sound crazier than usual). Last weekend I wasn’t not planning to write. It was early morning and I was heading out of town to do some Homecoming dress shopping with my daughter and mom. I had a couple hours to get ready. I was doing my typical reading routine when the topic fell in my lap. Hypocrisy. Do I really live like I believe what I say I believe? I say God can take away my fears and worries but do I let those feelings consume me? Refer to that blog for more lovely examples of my duplicity. I mentioned, as a solution, that I can pray “God, I am feeling worried about __________, I am turning my __________ over to you.” That’s practical. I can try that. That would help me at the very least, turn my attention to Someone more powerful than me who can actually help. I made a promise to put this in to practice in the future.

The curious thing about the future, is that it starts immediately. And so it did. Almost as soon as I posted my entry, I checked my emails. I saw one that scared me to death. My mind went in to full “figure it out” mode and my brain started spinning information around and around. It was fear mixed with worry mixed with a terrible sense of being powerless and having no control. And the (potential) consequences were huge. Of course, my head went to the worst case scenario and I literally felt sick and distracted and panicked. I have never had such an intense physical reaction to “information.”

But then….I remembered what I say I believe. And what I had just written. I had no choice. I had to practice what I preached if I could look any of you in face ever again. I knew I had an entire day to spend with two of my favorite people doing something fun and significant. I didn’t want to let my fear and worry of what might happen in the future hijack my serenity for the whole day. I have most definitely done that before, with deep regret. So I reviewed the first 3 steps of Recovery in my head. I have heard them summed up like this:

Step One: I CAN’T
Step Two: GOD CAN
Step Three: I THINK I’LL LET HIM

This became my mantra for the day. I said it out-loud and in my head at least 1,000 times. It would be lovely if once would cut it, but my tendency is to turn it over and take it back, turn it over and take it back. I find it amusing, and telling, that about half of those 1,000 recitations came out backwards the first time around. I would attempt to say it and I would say, “I can.  Wait, no, I mean, I can’t.” I just so badly want to think I can. I Can fix it. I can control it. I can change it. I can solve it.

When my oldest son was about 2 we took a swim class together. It was torture, for both of us. He couldn’t swim-at all-but he developed his own little mantra that echoed in the kiddie pool area for the entire lesson: “My-self My-self My-self!” He wanted me to let him down even though he couldn’t swim or touch. I knew this but he was not believing any of it. He was convinced he would be safe. I was just holding him back from success in his two-year-old mind.

This is my typical reaction to God when things get stressful. “My-self! My-self! My-self!” It’s a dangerous and naive reaction. But I have to tell you, that last Saturday, when stress and anxiety threatened my serenity and ability to be fully present with people I loved, I tried doing the opposite. And it worked. I still felt fear sneaking up on me throughout the day, beckoning me to jump in with both feet, but I chose differently. I chose to trust Him. I repeated “I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let Him” until I climbed into bed that night and throughout the weekend. The situation was not and is not “fixed”, but my fears are diminished and I am not frozen with dread (does this happen to anyone else?).

I am determined to continue this practice of living as an Anti-Hypocrite. It’s much more palatable and will look much better on a T-shirt.