Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?Mark 4:40
Wow. That one hits me pretty hard. And sadly, I have to let it hit me hard often because I always manage to forget it.
I remember a time in life when I had no cares in the world. I trusted my mom’s watch would beep and tell us it was time for my meds when it was time. I trusted I would have my medicine and I wouldn’t have to do it on my own because my mom was there to help me. Now I’m an adult and panic when I have to be somewhere in half an hour because what if all of a sudden the time flies by and I’m late and my generally understanding boss somehow becomes angry that I’m two minutes late for the first time since I started the job and my thoughts just keep rolling like that and I panic.
Some days, I can take a breath and calm the flurry that rises in my stomach.
Other days, I’m restless even when I try my hardest to chill out.
I wouldn’t have said I had anxiety until I started using Trim Healthy Mama Feminine Balance and I wasn’t so anxious anymore. I started that at the end of December 2018 and I started writing in January 2019. Apparently, I was too anxious to write. I got a new job and left one that stressed me out, but I would have been too anxious to do that before. Yet, still, some days are not easy.
Some days I walk out the back door to go to my car because the thought of neighbors being on their front porches staring at me when I use the front door makes me want to curl up in a corner and hide until Andrew gets home.
Some days, I get snippy with Andrew when I feel like we are running behind and will be late — even if it’s to something I don’t even want to attend. I’ll spend the entire time I’m there wishing I wasn’t there and that it would be okay for me to leave the room and be by myself. Usually, I can’t even go to the bathroom and hide because what if someone walks in on me or what if they realize I’ve been gone for way longer than necessary.
I enjoy knitting, but sometimes I tire my hands out because the repetition of it helps me stay calm, similar to how moving my legs helps me calm down or at least handle the stress a bit better.
Sometimes, I take my knitting places with me so I can have something to do with my hands that doesn’t seem quite as rude as playing on my phone. Actually, most people find it interesting and try to watch, which then stresses me out more and then I read this verse and God goes HELLO. I’M STILL HERE. REMEMBER ME?
The Bible says over and over again to not have fear. I believe he’s still speaking to us, telling us not to be afraid, telling us not to be anxious because what is there God can’t handle? And I have God inside me, so why should I be afraid?
I’m not saying no one who is a Christian can have anxiety. I am a firm believer in the miracle of CBD (or, in my case, “hemp oil”) and even anxiety medication when necessary. I am also a firm believer that Jesus gives us those things as gifts because we are lacking something, and those gifts can help us find him more. Since I started taking hemp oil, my life has been crazy:
- I decided I’m going to write a book.
- I joined hope*writers.
- I started a clinical study at NIH which involves genetic testing that we still haven’t heard any news from. (Twenty-seven vials of blood, y’all. That was a crazy day.)
- I started a new job after years of praying for one to fall in my lap. (I was still sitting in my car when I got to the church I teach ballet at, the pastor came over and asked if I wanted a job. One week later, I was their new administrative assistant.)
- My husband and I decided we were going to transition from his church, which is where we were attending on Sundays, to the church I grew up in and was still teaching at on Wednesdays. Then, at the end of May, we suddenly had a curve ball thrown at us when the pastor and the board at my childhood church decided to make some decisions several families did not agree with, were hurtful, and not Christ-like, especially toward my family. So, all of a sudden we weren’t leaving one church, we were leaving two and helping start a new one instead. (website still under construction…thanks to my talented husband!)
- In June I had the hospital stay that made me never want to stay at a hospital again, then had an allergic reaction to a medicine they put me on and ended up in the ER – all within less than a week.
- Then I started a medication that made me sick to my stomach and unable to eat. (After already having a hard time eating thanks to the emotional stress I was under from the church drama. I’m already under ninety pounds, so that was stressful and worried my doctors, of course.)
- In August I decided to totally quit from my job at Kohl’s so I could have more free time to rest, study, and write.
- I got a cold my first week not working at Kohl’s, so I didn’t get much done for a couple of weeks there, but I am trying to get back up and writing again.
- And in all of this, we have also been looking at houses because town life is not for me, give me the country any time. But, I’m picky and we have yet to find a house in our price range that we love since we both agree we don’t want a “starter” house, we’re already in a house we own so why buy something to just move in a few more years? That’s silly. If we move out of here, we can rent this apartment out and hopefully get good, paying tenants in this one and our two bedroom and that generates a decent amount of income each month. (But only if people actually pay and the rental company doesn’t forget to pay your water and electricity and you don’t come home to find notes on the door saying thing are/are going to be turned off which is another story I’m obviously not terribly thrilled about).
- Oh, and right before the whole church drama, my sister’s dog died, leaving my dog all by herself and she was heartbroken and cried all. the. time. at my parents. Poor Andrew did not realize when I said she was mine that she’s actually my dog…he had always said we weren’t getting pets. We now have a dog. Bonus perk: she helps me not be so restless when I’m home alone a lot and when I get paranoid for a few days every month.
So. Life has been crazy. But, it hasn’t been overwhelming. Before, I probably would have been having melt downs and stressing out but instead, I’ve managed to spend time with Jesus almost every day. Before, I stressed about not having enough time to get everything done, but now I can see what’s most important and get that done. I try my hardest to remind myself that spending time with Jesus is the most important thing I can spend my time doing, and doing the work he wants me to do is the second most important thing I can do.
Some days, that means I get to write or learn for hours. Other days, Jesus tells me to take a nap (true story. I can’t serve him and my people the way they deserve if I’m tired, sick, and grumpy). Some days, I feel like I NEED to get something done and instead Jesus tells me to go sit outside in the garage with Mountain Pie and watch Andrew work because he enjoys that.
When I forget everything God has already done for me so far, life can seem overwhelming. Yet, through everything, I know God is still there. If I let myself stay stuck in fear, I would miss so many beautiful things:
- The peace God has given me throughout all of the chaos.
- The love I feel as I grow closer to Jesus and as I trust God to help me love my husband better.
- The words that I have written that help me heal and have helped others heal or understand better.
- The community of people I found in hope*writers with similar writing struggles.
And that’s just a couple examples. By living without fear and remembering who I have inside of me, who is with me at all times, I can do more with my life, my words, my days than I ever realized was possible.
Maybe it’s a struggle I will face every day. Maybe some days will be better than others. Yet I still believe without wavering that Jesus still asks,”Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” and that he asks it in the most loving, gentle voice. He asks it daily, sometimes louder than others, sometimes repeatedly, but he doesn’t get frustrated with me the way I do with myself. I have learned so much in the past ten months that doesn’t make me waver at all, instead it draws me closer. When you realize how much you are loved by the Savior of the universe, your perspective changes. Your small, quiet voice gets a little louder, more confident, less fearful of what humans think and you watch miracles happen, lives change, your perspective change.
God calls us to have no fear because he loves us; everything he does is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
I initially typed this out as a rant to myself because I often feel I keep failing in this area, but I really believe everyone has a similar struggle. What would you do if it weren’t for fear?