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risksforhappiness

Fear is a Liar

For days (possibly weeks, it’s honestly hard to tell at this point), I have been listening to one song. When I say that, I don’t mean it’s the only song I’ve listened to during this time, but it’s truly the only one that I’ve HEARD. During this time, I can’t tell you how much of my time is spent with this song on repeat. Either in my car as I drive around thinking, on my work computer for background music when working, or as I’m around my apartment. It is more than a comforting melody. It’s more than soothing background music. It is truly a message from God because I take something new from it every time I hear it, which at this point is A LOT. It’s been on my heart to share because maybe it will be a message someone else needs too. “Lord, let Your fire fall. Your love is all I feel.” (Zach Williams, Fear is a Liar)

I know I’m not alone in falling victim to this, but fear is an awful, cruel thing, but something that stops me far too much. I fear that I don’t have the right words, I fear that I’m not smart enough, not creative enough, not brave enough, not enough. If it goes on for too long, I start to believe those dark, evil thoughts. It manifests it’s way into my way of being and how I see myself and becomes next to impossible to overcome.
But there is always something that can overcome anything and everything. Or a someone, to be more exact. Jesus sacrificed his blood- his perfect life- for me and God is far too good to allow myself to continue to give in to the awful thoughts that I’m not enough. Because whether or not I feel I am, I don’t make that decision. He does. And He knows my name and my heart and the deepest desires it holds when I haven’t even thought of them yet. 
Life comes in seasons and this one is challenging. There is so much going on- triumph, struggle, the weird in-between- all at the same time, so that I am often just too tired. Too tired to praise and pray. Too busy to think about His word, let alone read it. Too busy for Him. And in return, too busy for me. How can I honor myself if I am not first honoring Him? It is so easy to give advice or counsel to others and then not follow it myself. So here’s a painful step trudging through that fear in an attempt to let His fire fall: Lord, please move in my life. Move in the lives of those who struggle to ask for it. Your love and mercy are too great for words to ever be able to encapsulate. Your provisions in my life are far too much for a thank you to be enough. Move in my life, creating a light that burns for you, Lord. Fear is a liar, but You are truth and peace, serenity and love. That is more than enough. 

https://youtu.be/sQTnREEtuNk 

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Changes

As a child, I don’t remember having a favorite season. New England was plentiful with them: Fall, Pre-Winter where everything is just gray and cold, Winter, Why is there so much snow, Oh look-the snow is melting!, Just kidding, Mud, Spring, Maybe we can grow flowers now, Summer, and that one week where it’s super hot. Given this explanation, it’s probably obvious that it was so hard to chooose because there are so many options. As I’ve grown older, fall has been it. Especially since moving down south where fall exists for maybe one day and then the next, all the leaves are dead. Also, this happens in December. 

Anyway, fall. There is something about it to me that speaks to my soul. I remember visiting my undergrad institution in October as a senior in high school. This was my top choice from the outset, but walking onto campus and seeing the mountain behind the actual setting where I would be walking to class or to my room…it was breath-taking. I fell in love. Since  then, there has never been anything quite like that experience with fall. Smelling the crisp air, walking on the crunchy leaves, breathing outside and it just starts to create that fog around you, but you can still breathe because it’s not too cold. 

Fall also always represented change. It was always the beginning of a new school year. My birthday is in fall, so turning another year older. Given that my professional career is in education, my year calendar still revolves around fall as the start. 

It’s crazy to me to think that every single one of those changes- the leaves changing colors so that it looks like the trees are on fire if the light catches it just right, the crunchy leaves as you walk through them- those changes were so easy and welcomed. And yet, so many other changes are dreaded or feared or avoided at all costs. 

Something I am trying to push myself on is that change, while still being unknown, does not have to be scary. Because the key to this is that I have a God who has a plan for me. A plan that involves changes and ups and downs and probably a lot of things that won’t be “nice” or “good” in the moment. But His plan is the only one to follow. So I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t have to like the change. But I do have to trust in the fact that my Heavenly Father has something in store for me that is more than I could dream of. 

Change is inevitable. But something that has been in head and on my heart since I listened to the podcast from my church’s service this morning is this, “When people begin to rise up, enemies will rise up too, in order to tear them down.” Looking at my own, mediocre existence, this is so.true. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” There is no way to truly stand firm against the devil and his attacks without first cementing yourself in the love, grace, mercy, hope, and salvation that Jesus Christ provides. I pray to remember this more. There is no one higher or more glorious than Jesus. 

Lost

Social media allows us to put out the things we want others to see about our lives. To screen what is known about us. To create a facade that everything is great. 

But that’s not true. It never has been for me. There are days when I feel like I have my ish together and I can take on the world. There are far more days where I feel overwhelmed or exhausted or broken. I’ve been in a constant state of that lately, but hiding behind a forced smile or the excuse that “work is busy” or “I’m tired.” To be fair, those aren’t empty statements. Work has been colossally busy and I’m exhausted. 

But I also feel absolutely lost. Like I’m wandering around this life and floundering because I haven’t found my purpose yet. Lost because I moved myself 2000 miles away from my family and no longer feel like I have one here. Lost because when I pray for answers, I’m not given them and I’m not strong enough to take that in stride and truly know that God’s plan is greater than mine ever could be. I’m not able to believe that His timing will come. Because all I feel right now is like I’m wandering aimlessly in a forest. With trees and leaves so thick, I see nothing but more forest. How do I know which way is mine to take when the trees and leaves sit there, silent and stoic? 

Moment of pure honesty, internet: I feel like a fraud writing these because today/the last few weeks have been some of the worst I’ve experienced so far. I know I likely won’t share this with people I know, but even in my current state of mind, it seems important. 

As someone with anxiety and depression, I read every list of facts/to-do lists/lists of things you should know/etc. in hopes of finding solace in not being alone and also to find one that sums up all the things I can’t articulate to give to those I care about and don’t want to be scared off by my mental illnesses. There isn’t a list that exists that has felt 100% true, so here’s a try at my own list that I’ve been writing for a weeks. 
1. While my anxiety attacks or bouts of depression aren’t personal towards anyone else, during those times, my overactive brain analyzes over and over again any interaction I may have had with you. That seemingly friendly exchange of hello this morning? I’ve probably relived it enough times to convince myself that the tone of your voice was slightly off and we’re clearly in a fight I don’t know about. 

2. While I crave alone time because it seems safer, I long for interaction with people who I feel safe with. Let me qualify that “interaction” here typically means simply co-existing in the same space, separately. Your mere presence can make or break my mindset. 

3. I get frustrated at how frustrating being anxious or depressed is. This quickly becomes a never-ending cycle. If you notice it, gently remind me that it’s okay to frustrated, but it’s also okay to be anxious and/or depressed. Dwelling in those things though, is not okay. 

4. I will doubt everything. Rationally, I can know things, but rational thought gets pushed out of the way for the irrational anxious thoughts without my approval. 

5. I will crave reassurance in a million different ways and I know it’s annoying. Am I doing a good job? Am I good friend? Am I good person? Am I being too much? Are you as frustrated with me as I am frustrated with me? I talk/text/message you too much, don’t I? Have I asked about you enough? Do you hate me? Are you sure you don’t hate me? You texted back with (or without) punctuation, clearly you hate me. I have a degree in math, but 12 times 12 is still 144, right? 

6. I will apologize a million different ways for a million different things that I likely don’t need to apologize for. This essentially breaks down to being sorry that I’m such a burden on others, so I must apologize for existing, profusely. I have also been on the other end of anxiety/depression with friends and due to my job, have some extra knowledge as well. I know how draining it is to be on the other side and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But if you’re there, I’m going to apologize for that. 

7. There is no list that could ever be made to encapsulate everything for everyone. How anxiety/depression manifests itself in me is different from others. That’s okay- we’re all different for a reason. 

8. I will feel like the worst friend/family member/coworker/person in the world and there is pretty much nothing that you can say to convince me otherwise. 

9. I will likely want to talk, but not know how to start the conversation. Questions help and provide structure I can adhere to. 

10. I may ask for help, but not know what will help because I am too stubborn/worried about asking for help to actually do so when it would be helpful. Make sense? Great. 

11. If I avoid eye contact and am fidgety, I’m not okay. Tell-tale signs. Add in more than normal crying and being extra spacey to have an extra definitiveness to this. 

12. Hugs help. They will also likely induce crying, but typically most things do at that point. 

13. If things get really bad, I will push people away. Pretty much all people. Or at least the ones who have proven to see past my bullshit faking. 

14. I may not want to talk or be talked to. As much as I wish there was a magic solution someone else could provide, I know it’s on me. 

15. Don’t minimize my feelings or point out others have it worse. I know that. And have thought it probably a million times already. 

Nowhere

If I don’t want to be here,

     then where do I want to be?

Sometimes that answer is nowhere,

where I imagine blankness,

     warmth,

     stillness. 

I long for it, to exist nowhere. 

Because it is free from the confines

     of the prison that is my mind. 

Quiet. Stillness. Warmth. 

How lovely. 

The Weight of Worry

The weight of worry is equivalent

     to a stampede of elephants

     to the heaviest boulder 

     to the tons of bricks used to build all the structures of the world. 

The weight of worry is equivalent

     to a bag of feathers

     to the air we breathe. 

The weight of worry is equivalent 

     to everything. 

It is

     neverending 

     all-consuming

     overwhelming. 

The weight of worry is everything. 

Listing Some of the Good

I feel like I should write this down for future times when life piles up and I can’t seem to catch my breath…

Things that help fight off anxiety & depression: Continue reading “Listing Some of the Good”

The Bad Side of the Seesaw

Over the last week or so, I’ve been feeling my anxiety building. I don’t have a good reason, or at least nothing out of the ordinary. Work is stressful and frustrating: I work with people, so that’s kind of a given. The next step in life is a giant question mark: the same as it’s been for the last three years since I started my current job. Suffice to say, nothing new has happened. There has been no triggering incident. And yet, up goes my anxiety level.  Continue reading “The Bad Side of the Seesaw”

Joy

IMG_6791 Continue reading “Joy”

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