Anxiety/Worry, Control, Faith/Spirituality, fear, Trust

God is repetitive

A couple weeks ago I was In Hawaii. Sigh….

As we drove to the beach on our last day there, my mom and I had a discussion about Hawaiian words. How I can’t pronounce any of them properly, for starters. I mean, how would you pronounce Kapaa or Poipu or Lihue? (However you said it, I can pretty much guarantee that’s not it). I might as well have been trying to speak French. Also, as we went through the spelling of the various cities and areas we visited, we noticed a few things. There are some letters they rarely if ever use ( s, t, and r for example) and some that they use repeatedly (k,w,p,m and lots and lots of vowels).

Fast forward about an hour as we were laying in the sun. We started talking about a study my mom was doing. It happened to be written by one of my favorite authors, Beth Moore. This led us to bring up Anne Lamott, another favorite author of mine. I told my mom that a couple people have told me that my writing reminds them of hers. My interpretation of that compliment is that it’s mostly because we are both pretty honest about our own messed up selves and tend to land on similar topics like grace and love and vulnerability. But there is a huge difference in that she is a real writer who uses smart words and creative and intentional descriptive sentences that are simply way out of my league. My blogs are like the Walmart version of her Ralph Lauren writing. And that’s when it hit me and made me laugh out loud; I am like the Hawaiian version of Anne Lamott! There are just some words and letters she uses that I will never, ever be able to use. And most of all, I am Hawaiian in that I repeat the same few words over and over and over. I use words like “like” and “thing” and “very” and “soooo much”. My descriptive repertoire (I had to look up how to spell that!) is sorely lacking and simplistic.

My vocabulary is not the only thing that is repetitive. The more I write, the more I see the pattern. My topics are also repetitious. Any given blog you read will address issues with worry, anxiety, trust, fear, control, grace and acceptance. And to be honest, while that used to cause me to feel dumb and narrow, I now feel like I am good company. Because you know who else is repetitive? God. And if this is one way I can be more like Him, I’ll take it. If you have ever read the Bible, or even if you haven’t, you should know that even though there are approximately 807,361 words used in the Bible, they tend to highlight certain themes over and over and over in different ways. The main two topics that run throughout the Bible are 1) love God and 2) love people. God also regularly address how we should handle worry, anxiety, fear, control and how to live a life of peace and contentment as we trust His will over our own. It’s rather repetitious when you get right down to it.

I repeat myself because I struggle with the same tendencies on a regular basis. The tendency to let worry and fear dominate, resulting in complete lack of trust in God’s plan for me and the world around me. The tendency to control; to force solutions so that life works out the way I want it to and the people around me live up to my expectations. The tendency to withhold unconditional love and grace and judge others as if I were the great “I AM”. From what I have heard from readers, I am not alone in these tendencies.

But God has gone ahead of us and given us His words of comfort and wisdom to help us navigate this repetitious life-cycle we are riding. He gives us the tools and promises to find relief from these areas, if we choose to use them. He knows its a life long battle for us, which is why He repeats Himself. He tells us the answers in a thousand different ways so He can get His main messages to us across in just the way we need to hear it.

I have a strong tendency to forget to keep the main things the main things. Thank God He is repetitive.

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.