I read a devotional this morning on the Bible app, You Version. The study is entitled, “How to Stop Worrying.” The devotion defined worry as to torment oneself with cares and anxieties. As I read that definition, it felt like a 2×4 to the face.
Everyone has thoughts on the things that most concern them. We can plan the best ways to meet our goals or take care of dire situations. But when these thoughts turn to worry, they torment us.
I allowed worry to be a daily exercise in my life. However, most times, the things I worried about never came to pass.
Be conscious of your thoughts and the words you speak. When there is a deep history of living your life in worry, it will take a while to undo it. Have grace with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when you catch yourself worrying.
If you catch yourself in that mode of worry, say, “Oh! I have a worrisome thought.” Then ask yourself, “If I continue to dwell on this, will I be able to remain positive or be anxious?” If it is the latter, choose to change your focus.
In these perilous times, worry will not solve anything. I have spent the last few weeks, taking a lot of deep breaths, finding solace in prayer, trusting in the Lord and meditation, communicating with others (online), and watching light shows. May you find peace from worry today.
At the beginning of March, I read an article about people hoarding toilet paper and paper towels due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The virus had not reached The States quite yet. I decided to prepare for it during my scheduled monthly trip to Costco.
I arrived at Costco at their opening time and the line wrapped around the building. The entrance of the store wasn’t chaotic, just crowded. However, inside the store, the atmosphere was different. You could feel a level of desperation in the store. People were grabbing things, but not in the Black Friday sense, just 3-4 times what they would usually get. I asked a person why they needed so much toilet paper and paper towels. The person replied, “if we get quarantined for months, I would need this much, and these were the items China ran out of first when they needed to stay inside their homes.”
I began to catch the “fever” of shopping hoarding. I grabbed as many cases of toilet paper and paper towels that I could fit in my cart. As much as I justified the need to buy, this convicting feeling came over me that this didn’t seem right to do.
I took a pause and began to rationalize the situation. We will still have water and electricity. One case of toilet paper and paper towels lasts my small family for many months. Safety and food are much more important than hoarding shopping. I took a few deep breaths and decided to buy one case of toilet paper and paper towels, bleach and other cleaning products for my family and some non-perishable foods.
In the next two weeks, our national government leaders claimed everything was under control but quickly changed their claim to this will be horrendous. The panic in our country began to grow, and more cases of the virus became evident. In the middle of this, my daughter got lice and then lovingly (through all the hugs and cuddles) gave them to me. I focused more on destroying the lice and doing 35 loads of laundry in one week than focusing all my worries on the pandemic.
Thank God, the lice are gone, and the washer and dryer took a day off. My family has been home this last week. Then the underlying anxiety in me rose to the surface at midnight. I truly began to panic. Every tickle in my throat or sniffle I felt began to worry me. My husband coughed, and I would think, “Oh, sh*t!” I thought about the “Downton Abbey” episode, where many characters caught the Spanish Flu and suffered or died. My mind did somersaults imagining the worst-case scenarios.
Stress, lack of sleep and exercise, dehydration, and poor eating habits contribute to low immunity and sickness. An event like this has not affected the world in a long time. There have been pandemics, but not in this day and age. We are all navigating this for the first time together. As much as I want to get mad and criticize our country for not being prepared for this, it won’t do any good. I could not imagine the responsibility that the medical field, the government (state, local, federal), the public school system, and first responders (and countless other entities) have in this situation. The best thing I can do is cooperate, stay home, wash my hands, and pray.
This image included in this post of Jesus holding a child always brings me great comfort. When I get anxious, I have to surrender to God, trust, and allow Him to be in control. While I know the health and financial crisis this pandemic has brought will affect us all, it will be temporary. I am not in any way diminishing the long term effects of it, but we will get through this in some way.
Stay safe, friends. Take this opportunity to do things that bring joy to your life every day. Reconnect safely with family and friends. And if you are having difficulty managing all of these feelings of despair, please reach out because someone would be glad to help.
Lesson Learned: Anxiety does not help me in situations like these. Gaining perspective is better. And, I don’t like creamed corn from a can unless it is very sweet.
Prayer: “Dear Heavenly Father, I command this virus to cease spreading and be eradicated in the name of Jesus. Heal and restore everyone who has been affected by this virus, especially the victims’ families and the hardest-hit industries. I pray countries that have been devastated by this virus to be re-built. Protect those with low immunity. May family units become strong again. Give our government leadership and direction, which will be in the best interest of the citizens. I rebuke the idea for people to take advantage of the helpless in this time and bring to light anyone who does this. Let love, grace, and mercy rule as we re-build and restore our lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
This week has been a whammy. Daylight saving time, full moon, Friday the 13th, extra workload, Corona Virus fears, and pandemonium, and my child and I had our heads invaded by lice. (Cue Scratching.)
The physical and emotional toll lice took on me felt like the end of the world to me. I counted that I did 12 loads of laundry for over 2 days. I spent a lot of money to have someone come to the house and treat us and purchase new hair brushes, hair supplies, and bedding. My child had the lice eradicated in 1 treatment, while it took 3 treatments to get rid of them on my hair. My hair is very thick, so I have a hospitable environment for them. Lice are equal opportunity jerks, I felt dirty and poor, even though that is far from the truth.
I went to the dry cleaner to take our comforter to be professionally cleaned. I already washed it at the laundromat, but it smelled like everyone else’s laundry. I noticed a post-it note on the wall at my dry cleaner. The dry cleaner scribbled out, “Gratitude is riches. Complaining is poverty.” She had it there to remind her to be grateful. Little did she know that the quote was the encouragement I needed to help me through my exhausting week.
Even in the middle of this inconvenient and tiring time, I could be grateful for several things. I only have one child to deal with this. My husband didn’t get it. Bed, Bath and Beyond had a clearance sale on bedding. My washer and dryer handled the enormous loads of laundry. My house has been Spring Cleaned. And I knew deep in the back of my mind, this to would pass.
In my years of having anxiety and fear, gratitude was never a priority. If complaining was an Olympic sport, I would have more medals than Olympian Michael Phelps. I had a complainer’s mindset. When I had a difficult situation to deal with, it seemed like it would never end. I remember being in a grocery store and started to have an anxiety attack (grocery stores seemed to set me off for some reason). Then this thought came into my mind: there are plenty of people in this world that would trade their life for mine. So, I began to count my blessings. The anxious feelings fled, and I carried on with my errands.
When it comes to the definition of being wealthy, our income may not qualify in the area where my family lives. However, being grateful truly brings out all the riches in my life. May the person reading this post find something to be thankful for and see their riches!
Lesson Learned: Focus more on all the good things in your life.
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for looking for the things I do not have. Thank you for the blessings that you have bestowed upon my life. I am grateful for everything. When times are difficult, Father God, I am thankful the time is temporary. Thank you for your provision, protection, and love. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”
I have a terrible habit of comparing my beginning to other’s years-long journeys. The social media posts out there drip with humble brags and accomplishments. In my early twenties, many of my peers had finished college and entered the workforce, I was right in the middle of enduring trauma. My confidence and motivation were squashed by my circumstances.
As life progressed, I got married, and we had a child. Also, I have been a stay at home mom for the last 12 years. Even though I was productive in raising a child and running a household, I felt low because I did not make any money or feel I was in the right place in my life. My past tormented me, and my self-worth was still low.
Yesterday, my friend sent me the above-referenced meme. Even though she sent it to me to show how it encapsulated her life, I felt it represented my life as well.
Honestly, I am exhausted. Years of anxiety and fear have drained my mind and body. But I have worked on restoring my nervous system and quelling the anxiety and fear through therapy and self-reflection. I have learned I cannot expect to change overnight when I have endured years of turmoil. Every so often, I see a reminder that success can happen later on in one’s life.
There is a promise from God, we will be taken care of. “Blessed are they who perseveres under trial; for once they have been approved, they will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” –James 1:12
Do not let a bad day, week, or even year persuade you that your breakthrough will never come!
Lesson Learned: Your timeline does not need to reflect the successful person next to you.
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me from the trauma I have endured in life. Remind me of your plan and purpose for my life. Expose the lies from the enemy and show me the resources that will help me become committed and prosperous. Forgive me for not trusting in you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”
Today, I saw a feature on a television program about Reverend Dr. Lakeesha Walrond. She became the first woman president of the New York Theological Seminary. The feature story contained her recollection of when she heard her calling in the church, her plans for her presidency and how she endured sexual molestation at the age of nine.
The interviewer asked her how do you talk to people who have lost their faith. Rev. Dr. Walrond answered, “Faith isn’t lost, it’s just covered.” I felt this surge in my spirit. Faith is covered by many things, such as our circumstances, fear, anxiety, health issues, and doubt.
Our God is bigger than our greatest obstacles. Be encouraged today to uncover your faith! Remove that negativity and put your thoughts towards God.
“Dear Heavenly Father, may I put my trust in you each and every day. May I remember all the blessings in my life and for my faith to increase. Give me strength and endurance during difficult times. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”
I do not like experiencing tension between myself and others. In the past, I exhausted myself to make everyone else happy around me instead of protecting myself from the drama.
As much as I desire peace and harmony between myself and others, there are times where it won’t happen. I can promise peace for myself by establishing boundaries and not engaging with the drama.
Sadly, years can go by before I discover the true nature of a person. I am in the process of learning that I must let go of trying to get along with someone who does not want to be civil. It is not my job to appease them. These difficult people are energy vampires. Would I want to have someone suck out all of my energy? No, I’m over forty years old, and my energy is scarce but sacred!
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Continual engagement with difficult people will not bring out the best in me. As much as I want to know why they are the way they are, it will not solve anything. Only God can change a person, not me.
May you be released of any burden you carry to help those who do not want to change.
Lesson Learned: Let God handle those who bring you down.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I know peace is precious in a fallen world. Help me to manage conflict effectively and without becoming too invested. Give me the wisdom to protect myself when dealing with difficult people. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
As I entered adulthood, I began to have debilitating anxiety. I would receive (unwanted) advice from people regarding anxiety. Their advice of “stop worrying so much” hurt me more than it helped.
A former co-worker of mine wanted to become an esthetician. She asked me if she could practice giving a facial. Of course, I jumped at the chance. For some reason, those intimate environments cause people to open up. I brought up the subject of anxiety and the troubles I had. She scoffed at me and said, “aren’t you a Christian? I thought your God helped you?” Her words hurt me. I wanted to melt into the table and evaporate.
My issue was this, the trauma that I experienced in my life clouded my ability to trust in the Lord. She was sort of correct, though, in a mean and condescending way.
Everyone’s journey to healing is different. Here has been my path (so far). I prayed. I cried. I had others pray for me. I read the Bible. I did Bible studies. I attended church and weekend conferences. I had years of therapy, coaching, and bodywork. I took medication. I ended toxic relationships. I kept boundaries. All of these things helped me to get on the path of healing. I did wish for God to heal me after one prayer. However, I know every hurt I experienced brought me the knowledge I have today. Neurolinguistic trainer, Al Sargent said, “There are no experts in a new experience.” In my young adult days, I wasn’t experienced yet to walk in victory. As I look back, it was okay that I didn’t have all the answers.
My name, Colette, means victorious. The enemy knows my weaknesses and wants me to forget God has already made me victorious. God doesn’t want me to suffer but to thrive. I can rest in His arms and allow Him to fight my battles for me.
Lesson Learned: My journey is different than others, but I am already victorious in Him.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you, Lord! Help me walk victoriously in you. Remind me of all the times; you have carried me. Thank you for your grace and mercy. I believe I am healed. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3
Certain situations rile me up with anxiety. A visit to the dentist guarantees an anxiety attack. It would upset me that I couldn’t go to the dentist without an issue. The shame was real. I would ask myself, “why couldn’t I get past this?”
A typical visit would entail sweating through my clothes, crying, or blacking out. I remember the dentist shaking me as she yelled my name and telling me to breathe. I gasped for air and came back. It was embarrassing and scary.
I experienced trauma as a child and adult from trips to the dentist. One hygienist yelled at me when I was seven years old. She said, “I will sit on you if you don’t stop moving around.” She was a large woman, too. As an adult, one dentist told me to never come back to his practice because he couldn’t handle me. Those situations, combined with the money I spent and the pain I endured, made dental visits unbearable.
As I sought therapy for anxiety, I worked on settling my nervous system and giving myself a lot of grace when I knew I had to face a difficult situation. I have to go to the dentist every four months to get my teeth cleaned and checked. My dentist is near the beach and a beautiful Outlet Mall. I decided after a dental visit, to go to the beach and do some grounding work by stepping into the sand and water and watch the waves go back and forth for about 15 minutes. Then I would get lunch at the Outlet Mall and walk around and window shop. After a few times of doing this practice, I soon looked forward to a trip to the dentist.
Here are some pictures of going to the beach after my last dental visit.
I never took a gentle, loving approach in dealing with difficult situations. I took the advice of “suck it up, stop complaining and deal with it.” That approach hurt me instead of helping me.
My healing from anxiety has not been quick. It has been a long journey. As much as I wish God took the anxiety away, I needed to go through a process. There are three therapists who I have come to know that have helped me get through anxiety. I have also learned to eliminate a perfectionist attitude.
My road to recovery has looked like this. Seeking God first, establish boundaries, treat myself gently, learned ways to ground to keep my nervous system out of fight or flight, and know I am worthy and deserve peace.
If I can stop being anxious, you can too! Healing and restoration take determination and consistency, and it is worth it.
Lesson Learned: I am deserving of a life that has joy and peace. Victory over anxiety is worth the work.
“Heavenly Father, I allow you to heal me in the areas of my life that need healing. Forgive me for holding onto things I cannot control. Reset and restore my nervous system. Remind me who I am in Christ. Whenever I face scary situations, show me that you are right there beside me. Thank you for the victory over anxiety! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”