anxiety and fear

over the last several weeks I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety. Part of it had to do with a traffic court appearance, but that has been resolved. Some centered around a medical situation. While that isn’t resolved, the anxiety isn’t holding me back. Since it is a big thing, it seems as though I am much more inclined to say, “this is in God’s hands.”

Family is always a source of tension and anxiety. But, once again, it feels as though my brain is finally understanding or at least remembering it is in God’s hands.

So why the extra anxiety?

In so many ways, I feel like anxiety is connected to fear.

God has been reminding me over and over again of 2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

I decided to look up the connection between fear and anxiety. Here is what About.comsays about the two:

Fear and Anxiety Produce a Stress Response

Fear and anxiety both produce similar responses to certain dangers. But, many experts believe that there are important differences between the two.

Muscle tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath are a few of the physiological symptoms associated with a response to danger. These bodily changes occur due to an inborn fight-or-flight stress response that is believed to be necessary for our survival. Without this stress response, our mind would not receive the alerting danger signal, and our bodies would be unable to prepare to flee or stay and battle when faced with danger.

Anxiety

According to authors Kaplan and Sadock, anxiety is “a diffuse, unpleasant, vague sense of apprehension…” It is often a response to an imprecise or unknown threat. For example, imagine you’re walking down a dark street. You may feel a little uneasy and perhaps you have a few butterflies in your stomach. These sensations are caused by anxiety that is related to the possibility that a stranger may jump out from behind a bush, or approach you in some other way, and harm you. This anxiety is not the result of a known or specific threat. Rather it comes from your mind’s vision of the possible dangers that may result in the situation.

Fear

Fear is an emotional response to a known or definite threat. Using the scenario above, let’s say you’re walking down a dark street and someone points a gun at you and says, “This is a stick up.” This would likely elicit a response of fear. The danger is real, definite and immediate. There is a clear and present object of fear.

Although the focus of the response is different (real vs. imagined danger), fear and anxiety are interrelated. Fear causes anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear. But, the subtle distinctions between the two will give you a better understanding of your symptoms and may be important for treatment strategies.

One thing I have learned from counseling is to isolate what is actually bothering me. But, that isn’t always as easy as it appears.

How do you deal with anxiety?

Lord, I pray you reveal the root of this anxiety. I ask that my eyes are opened. Teach me to hand these issues to you.

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is it just me?

or is the getting older thing difficult?

Over the last several months, I have railed against my idols and sought to find my identity in Christ alone. My self-worth, self-image, my self-everything only in what the Bible says and the words whispered in my Spirit.

But ladies, it is getting harder and harder!

No matter what exercises I do, my body isn’t changing.

The weight I have found over the last several years, loves it’s new home and it isn’t going anywhere.

I guess with the warmer weather it seems so much more noticable to me than before.

And that idol is being built up again, higher and higher.

The negative words come so easily.

For once I would love to feel like I have gotten past something, tore it down and it stayed down. But, I am seeing more and more, it takes vigilance. If you don’t stay on them. If you don’t focus on God and ask Him to help you each day with it….well, I guess you find yourself where I am right now. In another phase of having to tear down what I have started to build back up.

This is hard. HARD.

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rest

From Jesus Calling

Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. If only you could check everything off your list, your could relax and be at peace. But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list. The harder you try, the more frustrated you become.

There is a better way to find security in this life. Instead of scrutinizing your checlist, focus your attention on My Presence with you. This continual contact with Me will keep you in My Peace. Moreover, I will help you sort out what is important and what is not, what needs to be done now and what does not. Fix your eyes not on what is seen (your circumstances), but on what is unseen (My Presence).

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

As I have mentioned numerous times in the past, striving is something I struggle with. I want to succeed. I don’t want to leave things for others to do. I want to be better. I want to be God’s favorite.

This weekend, I was fortunate to see Beth Moore at a Living Proof Live event in Hershey, PA. Awesome!

But one thing that really hit home for me during her speaking (and no, it wasn’t one of the topics per se. I have issues staying on topic.) was that constant striving leads to constant self-loathing.

I have a laundry list of things I have not been able to forgive myself for from my past. But, my constant striving and grasping has only added to list. Because the lists and measures I have, I can’t ever fulfill. When I don’t fulfill those things, it feeds the self-loathing.

BUT JESUS…

Don’t you love those words. No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, there is always a BUT JESUS.

BUT JESUS, freed me of my past. He freed me of my present. He freed my of my future. He freed me from those weights. And holding on to them. Holding on to my lists and measures, that isn’t glorifying Him. By putting myself down, by not loving myself, by being unhappy, I am not proving anything. I am just taking away from what He has done.

We prayed for each other Saturday afternoon. We prayed that we would be freed from self-loathing. I believe that. And, at the same time, I pray, “forgive my unbelief”. I cannot do any of this myself. I have no power to do it. But Jesus makes me mighty. His desire is for me to grasp this freedom. Grasp His forgiveness and move forward.

This is me moving forward 🙂

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worry is a liar

for me, worry does one of two things. It either tells me there is nothing I can do about a situation, or it tells me there is so much I HAVE to do about a situation.

Both of these things are lies. Worry comes from fear. Fear of what might happen, will happen, could happen…just plain ol’ fear.

I woke up this morning with worry all over me;

“This situation is never going to work out.”

“If she would just listen to me and do what I am telling her, it would all work out.”

“What if it doesn’t work out. How do I fix it?”

I have wrestled with this for hours. Finally I opened my “living so that” study. As I started day 5 on prayer, I felt I needed to take these worries to God. I wrote out my feelings, my worries, and what ultimately showed up was fear.

Fear of how someone was going to be affected. Fear of their hurt. Fear of not being able to fix the hurt.

As I finished up day 5, Wendy asked us to write down one of the fruits of the Spirit that we have the most difficulty with. Mine, Peace.

I live with too much fear. I allow it to infest my thoughts. I allow it to render me useless. Isn’t that exactly satan’s goal. Keep us useless. The scripture Wendy directed us to for fear was 2 Timothy 1:7.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfullness, but one of power, love and sound judgement.

I have POWER, LOVE and SOUND JUDGEMENT. I ALREADY have it.

I don’t have to pray to have it. I have it! It was bought for me by Jesus. It is mine. I just have to tap into it. Stay connected to it by staying connected to Jesus. Allow Him to be the vine. His rightful place. And, allow myself to be the branch. My rightful place.

My prayer to Him now..

God, you have not given me the spirit of fear and anxiety. You have given me power, love and sound judgement through the Holy Spirit. I do not have to claim and hold on to the feelings I have about situations and people. Instead, I can lay these feelings at your feet and stand in the power, love and sound judgement you gave me. I am standing Lord. Through you and only through you, I am standing.

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striving and grace

I have been on a journey for roughly two years. Healing from a wound that was deeper and more widespread than I imagined. During this journey the Lord has met me, walked with me, and held me every step of the way. During this journey, He has healed me in so many ways. But one rock I continue to trip over is running ahead of Him.

I know my salvation is a gift of grace and mercy. This gift costs dearly, but nevertheless, Jesus willingly accepted His fate to free me from living a condemned life. I know there is NOTHING I can do to make Him love me or accept me more or less than He does RIGHT NOW!

But…

I keep trying. I don’t know how not too. It is as though it is completely hardwired into me. I want Him to be happy with me. I want to prove to the world how amazing He is. But, that isn’t my job.

Two and a half weeks ago I decided to lower my depression medication on my own. You see, God had already allowed for me to do this successfully two other times over the last 6 months. This time, I didn’t really ask Him. Oh, of course I prayed, God be with me in this. But not, God, is this what you want. Of course it is what He wanted. His goal is that I am no longer on any meds, right? Right?

Maybe not.

I don’t know the reason why it didn’t work. But it didn’t. After a week or so my family started to ask me if I was avoiding them. Was I angry with them? Did they do something to make me be so quiet and shut off?

This weekend I had to go back to my former dosage. And, I felt defeated. Failure was the word that swam over and over in my mind. I apologized to God for being a failure. Then, it hit me. Jesus doesn’t call me that. He calls me Beloved, Redeemed, His Child; never failure.

I wish I could tie this all up into a pretty bow. Lesson completely learned. I keep thinking back to something Sheila Walsh said years ago at a Women of Faith conference. Her words helped me then. I was ashamed the meds I was taking. And her words freed me.

She said that she decided to go off her meds. She thought in her mind, “everyone will see how well I am doing and ask me about it. Then I will say, I went off my meds. Look how well I am doing.” Instead a few days later, people who loved her came to her and asked her, what was wrong. She asked God, “why didn’t it work? why do I need this? isn’t it a terrible witness for me to proclaim how awesome and wonderful you are and then need medication to make it through each day?” She said God told her, “Who are you to decide what you need? I made you. Who are you to decide what does or does not bring me glory.” She said from that day on she thanked God when she took her little pill each morning.

I don’t know why depression is something I am to bear. I don’t know why it isn’t just removed. But, I do know that I can trust God. Whatever I am walking through, He allowed it to pass through His hands. I need grasp hold of the fact that instead of being ashamed, I can be thankful that He trusted me with this. Thankful that He does not leave me to walk this road alone.

Thank you Jesus.

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my heart during Holy Week

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moment by moment

for two years the words that have been continually spoken to me are “relax”, “rest”, “stop striving”. These words are difficult for me to process. Doing equals accomplishment. Accomplishment provides me with value.

my brain, it swirls and sputters at all times. I don’t know how to quiet the voices. Would I know myself if they were gone?

in my seeking, I feel as though it isn’t about relaxing and resting for me. It isn’t about stopping something. But it is about giving up my perceived control minute by minute.

walk closely.
listen intently.
ask for direction.
wait for the answer.
listen.
obey.

when my walk becomes moment by moment, then rest will come. I will stop believing that it is something I can do or that the answers come from me.

my natural inclination is to jump. do. fix. figure out. reason.

my dying to self, at least in this instance, is to wait.

why is it so difficult for me to remember that I can trust Him. That He knows me better than I know myself. I don’t have to make my way. He goes before me. He leads. I follow.

thank you Jesus.

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when i keep falling

this weekend I stumbled over a few things I thought I had put in my past. Hate it when that happens. I want to be an overcomer and find myself overcome.

I repented and prayed over these things. But, true to form, I started beating myself up over them. I mean really Teresa, how many times? When will you ever get it together? I was feeling low.

Later, the Holy Spirit whispered into my spirit:

When you do not receive my forgiveness, you are saying that My sacrifice was not enough for you. That somehow beating yourself up and feeling ashamed is needed for you to be forgiven.

Don’t dishonor Me. I am all that is ever needed. Repent. Receive. And move forward. Don’t be tricked by satan.

It is a trick and ploy of satan, that after we have given something to Jesus we still are not forgiven. We miss what God has for us on the other side of that stumble when we hold on to the past. I don’t want to give satan any more of my time.

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tripping

no matter how much you try, you will always get tripped up.

Over the last few weeks I have been presented with several situations in which I walked away thinking, “I just don’t fit in.”

Not only did I feel this, I began to allow myself to start walking in it.

The Holy Spirit convicted me of this today. When I am thinking so much about how I don’t fit in, I am forgetting what my real purpose is. I am not meant to be comfortable at all times. Actually, the better thing for me is to be uncomfortable.

I have a tendency to hide. It is easier not to have relationships for me. I spend so much time inside my own head anyways. I can easily isolate myself from relationships past those I have with my husband and daughter.

Don’t get me wrong. There are people I really like. But because I have always been awkward in female relationships, I fear being rejected.

Satan likes me to focus on all the ways I am not like other women, instead of focusing on all the ways I am.

This year is my year of living expectant. To live in all that God has for me. I can’t do that when I am hiding.

I will allow myself to be vulnerable. Because through that vulnerability I may make some amazing friendships, but I will also learn to rely more, lean in more, to my Savior.

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letting go

Jesus Calling for March 24

This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control. In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete. Take time to bask in the Light of My Love. As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.

You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence. The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes: I am the same yesterday, today and forever. As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand. Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you.

I read this when I got to work this morning. It really spoke to my heart. I have such a difficult time releasing my hold on anything. Even if my hold is really just an illusion.

I know Jesus is telling me, I have to open my hands. I have to relax in Him. The Holy Spirit nudges me to drop my arms and let Him lead.

“I can’t do new things when you are holding on to the old things.”

For the miraculous to happen, I have to be obedient in allowing Him to lead and handle my life, my thoughts, my fears, my insecurities.

In the final week of our study of Discerning the Voice of God, Priscilla states, “How many times have I forfeited God’s blessing in my life? I want to see God’s supernatural activity. I don’t just want to hear about it and watch it from afar. I want to experience it. As Abraham’s difficult obedience yielded supernatural results, wo will ours.”

My receiving God’s blessings is more about me not listening and obeying than God not doing. God beckons me to obey and draw closer to Him. The closeness is more dependent on me than on Him. It is laying down my list an dmy will to follow Him. It is truly, completely giving Him lordship.

But it is so very difficult for me. And I am ashamed of how hard it is.

Forgive me Lord.

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