In These Times of Great Anxiety

Credit: Artist-David Bowman

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!

How to Manage Anxious Thoughts

“We destroy thoughts and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

What do you do with your thoughts in times of uncertainty? Are they helpful or harmful? Unfortunately, my thoughts have been unhealthy.

Those anxious thoughts affect me mentally and physically. I can feel my body sink into pain and suffering. My imagination runs wild with every bad scenario it creates. Those around me feel my tension.

A few months ago, I had to let go of a friendship. I had many trepidations throughout the relationship that I had been used and manipulated. Somehow I thought I was the source of the problems. Thankfully it was brought to my attention that it was them, not me.

After our last conversation, I had a lot of anger because I was unable to say what I wanted to say. For the next couple of weeks, I thought about this person. These thoughts woke me up in the middle of the night. In the day, I would get so upset and feel that anger burning in my face and stomach. It was not healthy.

How I Chose To Manage The Anxious Thoughts

As I came to terms with the lost friendship, I saw this quote from Dr. Caroline Leaf from her book, “Switch on Your Brain.” “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain as we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” So, I made a decision. Every time I thought of this person, I said, “I choose to forgive them, and I wish them well. And I am thankful I do not need them in my life.” I said this countless times over the next few days. The thought of them faded, and my thoughts were not held captive anymore. I felt light and free.

I wish I could say, I never think of this person anymore, but once in a while, I do. Now, I make that choice not to dwell or ruminate over them. It is not worth it. I have people ask me when we will reconcile. If God wants me to change the relationship status, then so be it. But I know now is not the time.

Life changes are beyond our control. People or things move in and out of our lives, whether we want them to or not. We can retrain ourselves. It is worth the hard work to take every thought captive.

 

Lesson Learned: Take those thoughts captive and dwell on the better things.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I chose to forgive those who have wronged me. I release that burden onto you, Lord. Forgive me for any pain I have caused on others and myself. I take every thought captive and chose to focus on you, Father God. Heal the wounds and fill those voids with your love, grace, and mercy. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

No Sin is Hidden from The Lord

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 12:2

There is a small pleasure of not getting into trouble when I should.  I feel it when I perform the California rolling stop when driving.  But the Sheriff behind me is looking for someone else, so they do not pull me over.  While that may be a sign of grace, true sin will catch up to us.

Many years ago, when I was in college, living at home, my parents were renovating the backyard.  My friend and I were at my home studying for a class. Except, we were distracted by the attractive construction workers.  (Hey! We were young and single!) They would have to walk past the kitchen bay window where my friend and I were “studying” next to, to get tools and supplies from the truck.

As they would walk, by we would smile big and do funny dances at them. We did this because the house had tinted windows. Well, we were so wrong about that! The next day, I was outside and walked past that same window and could see inside, when the lights were on in the kitchen.  And the lights were on in the kitchen that day were giving the construction workers googly eyes. From that day forward, I never looked at them and tried to avoid them at all costs.

I remember thinking, I  thought I could get away with acting like that.  If I knew the construction workers could see my friend and me, we never would have behaved that way.  In life, we sin and think we had gotten away with something or hurting someone because they would never find out about it. However, Father God knows every sin.  He knows every move we make. All of these sins will come to light, and we will be judged for it. There are no tinted windows between God and us.  Let us repent for our sins, and the sins were are unaware of daily!

Lesson Learned:  All sin will come to light.  No sin is hidden.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, convict me when I sin.  Holy Spirit, show me when I sin and not realize it.  Thank you for giving us grace and mercy. Give me guidance to always do the right thing. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Didn’t Like What I Had Become

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is a way to death.”
Proverbs 14:12

Most people decide a moral code for themselves. As we grow up, in childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, this code forms. This moral code provides us with the ability to get through traumatic situations as well as making everyday decisions.

My parents taught me to be a rule follower. Whether I was in school or home, I was expected to abide by the rules. Of course, I was human and broke rules. I suffered the consequences and usually learned the first time (okay, maybe after the third time) rules are there for a reason.

I feared disappointing my parents, teachers or God, so I stayed out of trouble throughout high school and even into college. However the summer before my senior year of college, I began to question some things and loosen up on following the rules. And the reason being, I met a cute guy.

The summer before my senior year of college, I interned for a professional roller hockey team. This team and their staff were filled with really cute and athletic men. Since I love hockey and many of them played minor league ice hockey in the winter, I felt like I was in hockey heaven. Not before long I noticed their athletic trainer and equipment manager, named Mike, who was a couple of years older than me.  He began to notice me too.

Mike and I began to hang out at the rink and soon began dating each other.  He would tell me about his goals of going to medical school after he saved some money from work. His father was an assistant coach and he seemed to approve of me as well.  The family seemed great and he was driven and on his way to being successful. But there was just one thing…he was a drinker, a heavy drinker and I never drank.

To describe my drinking history would be non-existent. I didn’t try any alcohol until I was 21 years old (rule follower). And even the couple of times that I would order a drink, I would sip about 25% of the drink and be done. I never had a hangover either.

As Mike and I dated, I began to drink. I knew my tolerance level, so I still would manage to not get drunk. He would be wasted. I was the designated driver for us.  After games, we would meet a local bar. I noticed a staff member named Michelle, starting to flirt with Mike. They each already drank a 6 pack of beer and the night barely started. I was getting angry that she was aggressive and he was loving it. In my anger, the quarter of margarita I was drinking for over an hour, suddenly was gone. Mike noticed I finished with it, gave me a “high five” and diverted his attention back to me.

We decided to leave, but this time, neither one of us could or should drive. I knew that I never wanted to drink and drive because I knew the severity of drunk driving. However, I tried to drive anyway. I was driving about 5 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour on the street but pulled over and said I can’t drive. Mike offered to drive and I told him neither one of us should drive. He got angry and said that maybe Michelle (the one flirting with him all night) should take him back to his hotel. I got mad, started the car and drove him to his hotel.

By the grace of God, I made it to the hotel. He wanted me to go up to his room and I did, even though I knew it was a mistake. Even as I made terrible choices that night, I prayed for a way to get me out of this situation. He opened the door and his father already was back from the bar.

Halleighluia!  This was my way out! Because I knew Mike would never try anything with his father there. I think Mike’s dad knew I was uncomfortable. He told me that Mike would pass out shortly and that I could stay on the couch (that was outside the bedroom) until I sobered up. I called my dad and told him that I felt to drunk to drive but I would leave as soon as I felt normal again. I drank water and rested. Sure enough Mike was passed out and I sobered up and left for home.

On the drive home, I did a lot of thinking about what became of myself. I didn’t like how I was behaving or the decisions I was making in the time I was dating Mike. It was time to stop dating him.  The next day,  I told him my decision and later that day, he was already hanging out with Michelle. Even though I knew it was the right decision, it still hurt.

I was 22 years old when this happened, I’m 40 years old now and haven’t drank any alcohol since that night.

Thank God, I didn’t get into an accident that night or was taken advantage of sexually.  So, I am glad that I realized I followed rules for a reason and my morality should be aligned with what God wanted for my life. In the next few years, I still made mistakes but I always found my way back to God.

God will always give us a way out of temptation if we look for it. To reap from sin is not a way to live.

Lesson Learned: If a choice seems knowingly bad, align it with what God would want for you and make the decision to stop.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and forgiveness. Forgive me for making poor choices. I ask that I hear the Holy Spirit loud and clear to make the right decision. Remind me that all choices have consequences to help me not make poor ones. In those areas where there is lack, fill them with love, acceptance and grace. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”