Self-Discovery in Quarantine

My faith was shaken today. I cursed at God. I told Him, I don’t want to believe in Him anymore. More unpleasant words flew out of my mouth, and tears streamed down my cheeks.  

Yesterday, my husband and I got into an argument on our walk with the dog. I saw huge amounts of dog poop on the grass for anyone to step in. I said, “these irresponsible, f-ing people piss me off!” He got upset with me and said I have been complaining about everything. I call my husband, “the great compartmentalizer.” He can leave work at work and home life at home. All areas of my life bleed into one another.

I asked him what he wanted from me. He said, I want to come home without hearing you and our daughter argue (our daughter is 12, almost 13 years old-easier said than done) and for all of us to go on a family walk willingly. Maybe that isn’t too much to ask, but when I am angry, and in pain, I don’t feel capable.  

I came inside after our walk and Googled, “why do I complain too much?” And this article came up. One of the steps said to be less judgmental. I thought, “well, I don’t judge.” Well, I admit it now, I do(a lot!), and we all do it! When I stay in that mindset of negativity and only seeing the bad in everything, how can I ever see anything good?

The world has seen a lot of change in the past few months. We all have had to re-arrange our lives. In some way, we all have had to grieve something. A lost job, canceled events, no school, even losing a loved one. Traumas we have dealt with in our lives somehow found a way back. My trauma is an eating disorder.

Every morning during this quarantine, I have stepped on the scale. Ounces gained became pounds, which turned into binding shame. Those voices of negativity and hatred are in my head again. I want the ground to swallow me up. I don’t look down at anyone the way I look down at myself. The pain is deep and vast.

So today, after I cast my anger at God, I asked for forgiveness. I prayed for God to reveal Himself to me in my daily bible reading. I went to my Bible app, and the reading consisted of Job Chapters 1 and 2, Luke 6, and Revelations 4. Job 1 and 2 dealt with his life in utter turmoil and pain, yet he never cursed God. Luke 6 explained judging others, amongst other important things. And Revelations 4 ended with verse 11, “worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and your will they existed and were created.” God delivered me answers to my pleas. Also, today is our trash pick up day, and the scale found its way into the trash bin.

I have years of experience in thinking in a negative way, which developed neural pathways of negativity. It hasn’t been beneficial to me. The good news is, neural pathways can change. My therapist said two things to me that helped me today—the first piece of advice, the brain changes in increments, not all at once. So, do not expect negative behaviors to go away after you decide to change. And second, when you do catch yourself reacting negatively, you can say, here is the new way I can handle it.

Everyone is affected by this COVID-19. May the virus be eradicated, and we find real meaning in our lives. Until then, be gentle with yourselves!

Lesson Learned: I see God cares for me, and neural pathways aren’t permanent.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I believe for the complete eradication of COVID-19 in the name of Jesus. I pray for healing and restoration for everyone who has become a victim of it. I pray for the loved one who lost a family member to COVID-19. I pray for comfort and peace during their mourning. Protect the first responders and hospital staff who are treating patients every day. Father God, I lift every person with mental illness and who are in abusive situations during this quarantine. Make a way Lord, for clarity or a way out. Thank you, Jehovah Shalom. Give provision to those who have lost work and revive this economy. Forgive us, Lord, for not trusting in you. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole of Anger

“Control your temper for anger labels you a fool.”  Ecclesiastes 7:9

People in the world seem quick to anger.  There are situations where having a cool head is better than being a hot-head.  Yet, people exhibit explosive anger over everyday mishaps or misunderstandings.

A week ago, I went to the mall in the evening to return an item.  I began to smell the aroma of the food court and decided, I need pizza now!   I walked over to the pizza place.  After I placed my order, I sat down at a table nearby.  

I began to hear a person yelling and using foul language.  There was a young mother, holding her child’s hand and she was yelling at an employee.  She began to slam down her belongings on the counter and pointing at the man’s face.  I thought, she was too petite to be so aggressive. She stormed off with her child and brought her over 6 foot tall, muscular,  tatted up husband.  He began yelling at the employee too.

This employee remained calm.  His co-worker, another young woman, was visibly shaking with fear.  The man started knocking over items on the counter and the caution pylon on the floor and telling the crowd behind him that this place was closed until he got what he wanted.  

I walked over to the pizza place and told them to get security or call the police, because it didn’t look like it would end well.   I wasn’t privy to the conversation of what started the initial argument.  One can speculate what happened, but no one will truly know.  But I knew it looked bad on the part of the couple.  

My order was ready and I got out of there as quickly as possible. I got into my car and took a deep breath.  I thought, “that couple lost their minds at Hot Dog on a Stick!  They looked so bad!”  Then, I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit say, “you’ve done that too and it is foolish.”

A few weeks before that incident, I was driving in the neighborhood around my daughter’s school.  I park behind the school because there are less crowds.  After I parked my car, I walked towards the school and noticed a woman walking her dogs and she was giving me some serious stink eye. I didn’t  know her at all.  

There was a dance at the school that night and we decided to help out.  My daughter walked with her friends to the multipurpose room and I got back in my car alone and drove towards the front of the school.  As I was driving down one of the residential streets, this same woman, was now walking down the middle of the street towards my car.  I had to literally stop my car for her to pass me.  She yells at me “slow down b–!” I yelled back at her “what the he–?!  I am going 15 miles an hour, you shut the “ f” up!”  and drove off.

“How dare she say that to me?”  I hate being accused of something that I didn’t do.  My emotions were in overdrive.  I kept thinking of all these things to say and thought about driving around to look for her.  Really?  What is the point?  It took me hours to calm down.

She was probably tired of people speeding around the neighborhood and decided to speak up. I just didn’t like her tone.  Regardless, there was no reason for me to lose my mind.

The enemy loves to give us interactions of conflict with people.  No one wants to be civil or apologize, everyone wants to be right even if they are not.  We act like this and our children or loved ones see us and think this must be the way to deal with things.   Every situation we are in does not have to end up in “fight or flight” mode.

There are times, it will be necessary to have an angry reaction.  However, my hope is that I chose to respond calmly and not sin from my anger.  Rage doesn’t look good on anybody.

Lesson Learned: Collect one’s thoughts before responding to a difficult situation. And sometimes we have to be like Elsa from “Frozen” and “let it go”.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for being in a rage over insignificant things.  Holy Spirit control my thoughts and calm me down before responding.  Remind me how we are the hands and feet of Jesus and a light for the world.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Decluttering the Mind

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious.  If there is any excellence and if there is anything that is worthy of praise,, think about these things.”  Philippians 4:8

 

Admission time…I have anger issues and I am not proud of it.  I use bad words.   Flip my lid.  Yell and scream at my husband, our child and strangers.  I leave passive aggressive notes for my neighbors.  This is a very dangerous road to be on.

 

I arrived at church with a knot in my stomach.  The past 2 weeks haven’t been my best physically.  I threw out my back, had a migraine for 3 days and now my stomach burned.  And to top it all off,  the weather was  100+ degrees for one of those entire weeks.  Plus, I was angry at everything.  It didn’t matter the reason, large or small, I was angry.

 

As I got out of the car, I saw my friend.  She is a mighty prayer warrior.  I consider her my spiritual mother due to her strength and spiritual wisdom.  I asked for prayer.  She prayed and tears streamed down my face and I began to tremble from all the anger that I had been holding on to from the past, let alone the past two weeks.

 

My friend knows I am a minimalist at heart.   She told me it is time to do some decluttering of my mind.  My friends said remove the thoughts that are working against you, not for you.  Think of the way Jesus sees you, more eternal, less earthly thoughts.  The day changed from there.  I enjoyed the church service, my stomach stopped hurting and it was a day of rest from those thoughts.

 

Today I read the following quote in a Bible devotional, “Whatever you believe on the inside will manifest on the outside.”  Most times, anger, anxiety, fear, depression manifests in us physically.  My back, my head and my stomach were all being attacked because I was allowing anger’s energy to control me.

 

The world today thrives on anger.  People are short fused and it reflects in society.  My hope for the near future is that I can use anger in a useful way.  If I see injustice, I try to come up with a possible solution.  But most importantly, I don’t let the angry thoughts consume me and manifest and to also pray and lean on the Lord.

Lesson Learned:  Think of what is true and good and the mind will be renewed.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for letting my thoughts over take my mind.  Forgive me for dwelling on the past and relying on my own strength.  Remind me when I begin to give in to anger.  Give me a renewed mind, like the mind of Christ.  Change my focus on what is eternal.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Responding to Other People’s Anger

“If your enemy is hungry, then give him bread to eat and if your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  Proverbs 25:21-22

 

There are days when you receive bad news, you process it and deal with it.  You realize it is may be difficult but God is on our side and there is nothing that is too big for Him.  Then there are the everyday problems that seem to cut us to the core.  They are trivial, but feel like a ton of bricks drop fell on us and we can’t get out.

 

A few things were going on that were causing me some stress.  I was given a work project that was requiring me to work more hours and my mother had been having some serious health issues.  Despite being tired and having some worrisome thoughts on these matters, I wasn’t having a difficult time.  I prayed and gave my cares to the Lord.  Then a small matter occurred with my neighbor and I lost my all sense of civility.

 

Southern California has been baptized with lots of rain (thankfully) but it wreaked havoc on our yard.   One morning,  when I had some free time, I decided to clean the front walkway and backyard.  I planned for this to take 30 minutes the most, but it ended up being 90 minutes of total work.

 

I was raking the leaves and after about 10 minutes, I realized that this task would take hours before I could clear it out.  So I decided to use our leaf blower.  Leaf blowers are annoying and loud but are helpful for bigger jobs.  It was 10:00 in the morning on a weekday, so I figured I was in the clear to use it.  After seeing some progress, I also decided to do some other gardening and bought 6 bags of mulch.  One bag weighed 30 pounds.  I loaded them into the cart and into the car and dragged each bag to the back yard.   My arms and back throbbed in pain.  

 

Several hours later I came home with my daughter from her school and had to begin my other job’s work.  My neighbor saw me come home.  Not more than a couple of minutes of us pulling into the garage,  I received this text message from our neighbor.  It was rude, accusatory and unsettling.  She was complaining about me using the leaf blower.  The gist of the text was she wanted me to tell my lazy husband (her words) that if she could pick up the leaves without using a leaf blower, he should be able to as well.  There are leaves all over her yard because of it and that she threw them all back over our fence (there was trash from her yard happen to appear with the leaves too).  So she insulted my husband who wasn’t even there.  She attacked my family.  I was shaking from the anger.

 

I wanted to text her back some salty words and give her a piece of my mind.  But every time I began to type the text, my hands shook so much, I would drop the phone.  I knew I needed to put the phone down, take a breath and calm down.  Thankfully I prayed and waited several hours before I responded to her text.  

 

All I kept hearing was “hands and feet of Jesus”.  Honestly, I didn’t want to be when I felt attacked.  But I knew, deep down, attacking her was not the way to go.  Her boyfriend has cancer and she seems troubled herself.  We have to drive past their place to leave our home every day.  In everyday life,  we don’t need to talk to them for anything, but I know I didn’t want there to be any issues between us.

 

So I reached for my phone and asked the Holy Spirit to write the words for me.  I responded by apologizing for the leaves going into her yard and how I never would intentionally blow them into their yard on purpose and I offered to clean them up. 

 

She responded back with an apology and how she is overwhelmed cleaning and taking care of her boyfriend having cancer.

 

So, if I went off on her, it wouldn’t have solved or proved anything.  It would have created animosity and enemies.  I am so thankful, that I chose God’s way instead of mine.   

 

Lesson Learned:  It is difficult, but more beneficial to be the bigger person, than getting sucked into a useless drama.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father,  help me to control the anger that wells up when drama comes up in our earthly lives.  Remind me of what truly matters, being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Give me courage to do the right thing that temporarily feeling good, by getting someone back.  Help me see that people are damaged and hurting and to offer encouragement.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”