Categories
anxiety

you’ll work, but you’ll love it!

My husband and I are very thankful for the team at Ramsey Solutions. As most of you know, Dave Ramsey has been teaching for 25 years about how to win with money. His motto is, “Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.” Along with his radio show, where he helps people get out of debt and build wealth, he has also employed several “Ramsey personalities” to focus on specific areas of financial struggles. One of those personalities is Ken Coleman, who talks about what you were born to do. He helps you find your dream job, and discusses practical steps of how to get there.

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to feel discontent at my job. But, after listening to Ken Coleman’s podcast, I realized that I’m doing exactly what I enjoy doing. I’m doing exactly what I’m good at doing. As he would say, I’m in my “sweet spot.”

Ken Coleman taught me how to truly pursue my dream. My dream is to work from home as a freelance editor. I’ve always imagined working in my home office, typing away at my computer, making myself available for my friends and family. What’s stopping me from pursuing a freelance editing career? If I really thought about it, nothing. (Visit this page if you need me to take a look at your novel!).

Through this season of self-discovery, God affirmed my identity in Him. He truly has called me to work where I am now. After years of uncertainty, now it is clear: He loves me, and He is pleased with me. Thank you, God!

Did you know that God intended for us to enjoy work? Work was actually assigned to us before the Fall, so it is not a punishment for our sin. God gave us land to work and oversee (see Genesis 1-3). As a result of the Fall, we now struggle in our jobs (and have work anxiety), but we don’t have to.

Here are some ways to fall in love with your job again!

  • Discover your dream job. Ken Coleman encourages his listeners to find our talents (what we’re good at) and our passions (what we enjoy doing). That is where you will find your “sweet spot.” Take some time to think about what you’ve always loved doing, and what you are good at doing. Then, think about what jobs will help you feel that sense of fulfillment. You now have your dream job!
  • Remember why. Sorry to break it to you, but most likely, you will not get your dream job overnight. You might have to go to school. You might have to get a dead-end job to build up experience or an income to fuel your vision. You may need to pay off debt! If you are not in your dream job, remember why. Why are you pursuing this career path? How is this job going to help you in the long run?
  • Maybe it’s not about your dream job. You may not enjoy your job for legitimate reasons. Your boss treats you like garbage. You have a conflict with your co-worker. The commute is way too long. The pay may be terrible. Before leaving the field where you work, try to pinpoint what about your job you don’t like. Do you fundamentally not enjoy what you do, or do you need a change of environment? Knowing the difference between a toxic work environment and not being in your dream job can change your attitude about your work ethic, and, dare I say it, your identity as an employee.
  • Search wisely. If your current job isn’t going to help you in the long run, maybe you need to look for another job. Before making the jump, consider why you want to leave your job. Holding nothing back, write down all the reasons why the idea of going back to work makes you sick to your stomach. Then, when you search for a new job, make sure the company doesn’t have those things on your list! Ask employees of those prospective companies about the work culture. Research the salaries they offer. Check the job description!

As the popular phrase goes, “If you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. You will work, but you will love what you do. According to Scripture, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). What makes your heart come alive? Pursue a job where you can love what you do, and your work will bring glory to the One who created you.


Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

how thoughts affect our health

There it was, right on cue. Pains ran through my stomach, instantly nauseating me. Isn’t it suspicious that they always come when I’m about to walk into work? Sometimes I get them a little earlier, like when I get into the car or when I first wake up. But what are the chances that I have a stomachache every morning when I know I have to work in the near future?

On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I have fallen victim to psychosomatic symptoms, health challenges that stem from suppressed emotions. In this case, I experience stomachaches before work because I struggle with work anxiety. Now that I know this, I know how to stop it.

While some of us may be more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts, our feelings do not determine our reality. Our feelings may feel so real, but they are not true. Especially if our feelings are related to fear and shame.

Fear and anxiety may cause you to develop other symptoms. You may have headaches before you’re about to confront a co-worker about an issue. You may have chest pain before you go to your family member’s house. You may have acid reflux before you are about to take a long trip. 

Of course, you could just be sick. We get stomach viruses and sinus infections every once in a while. But pay attention to when you develop those symptoms. Why did your stomach start gurgling at that moment? Is there a connection between your symptoms and your circumstances?

If you struggle with psychosomatic symptoms due to suppressed emotions, there is only one solution: deal with the feelings. I personally like to journal, but you could also process out loud alone or with a friend. Be intentional about identifying what you are feeling, and why you could be feeling that way. Why are you scared? Why are you angry? You may even be joyful, but you’re not allowed to show it because of those around you. Don’t be surprised if you start to develop psychosomatic symptoms while you’re dealing with your feelings.

I’m so thankful that God knows my heart. I can come to Him at any time of the day and share my feelings with Him, knowing that He will never leave me or forsake me. He created my emotions as signals to how I’m reacting to my circumstances. God is not freaked out or intimidated when I discover fear, shame, or anger in my heart. Even better than that, He can replace those “ugly” emotions with His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The truth of God’s Word tells me that I am a child of God. I am fully loved by God. His grace covers every sin I’ve ever committed. He gives me good, not harm, all the days of my life. In light of these truths (and countless others found in Scripture), how could I be afraid? Of course, the feelings will continue to come, but we have to fight them with God’s Truth. Don’t let your feelings control your truth; use the truth to control your feelings.


Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

how do you recharge? (confessions of an ambivert)

I can remember the feeling as if it happened to me yesterday. The first time I ever felt overwhelmed. I had started my first semester at college in another state. To make all of us freshmen welcome, they had different events for us to attend. Every. Single. Night. The first night, I was all in. I made friends, I played games, I ate snacks, and I had a great time. The second night I was a little tired, but I still made it out and enjoyed myself. I reconnected with the friends I had made the night before, I played some games, I ate some snacks, and I had a pretty good time.

But the third night, it was like I was a different person.

My friends ran to my room and asked me excitedly if I was going to the Freshman Palooza Big Bash Day Before Class Starts Event (or something like that). Whatever it was, the name alone exhausted me. I turned down my friend’s offer with a frustrated, fatigued, “No.”

And she never came to pick me up from my room again.

Why was it possible for my friendship to change so quickly? It was sad. Since that day nine years (?!) ago, I have grown tremendously, and I have learned a lot about myself. But where was grace for me? And what happened to make me go from energetic and social, to angry and isolated?

Lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected from other people. I live a good thirty miles from all of my friends, and even thinking about driving all the way over to their houses makes me want to crawl into bed. But there’s still a desire, and a need, to be around people.

Over the years, after taking different personality tests, praying, and interacting with smart people, I’ve discovered who I am. I am an introvert, but I am also an extrovert. There’s a special name for people like me. I’m an ambivert.

If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs test, your results will be a combination of different results. You are 100% a person, but you are a certain percentage introvert and a certain percentage extrovert. When I received my results, I was almost 50-50 introvert-extrovert (54% introvert, 46% extrovert). Tests like this one, in addition to journaling and self-analysis, can help you figure out how you best need to recharge.

I’m anxious when I’m not recharged. It’s called being burnt out. I need time alone, away from the noise, away from the stress, away from people. But, as I learned this past week, I need time connected, in the midst of my friends, in the midst of the party, in the midst of people.

I’m so thankful that God knows what I need before I do. Last week, I was feeling really lonely. I was seriously angry with my connection (or lack thereof) but I knew that my feelings were not rooted in truth. I knew that I had friends and family that loved me, but may have been preoccupied. I prayed that God would help me connect with my friends again. Shortly after praying, my friend invited me over for a game night, and my other friend invited me to her house. That weekend, I also went to the pool at my apartment complex and talked to some of my neighbors. In a matter of hours, my entire outlook on life had changed!

The truth is, we are ALL ambiverts. We need both solitude and people to recharge us. God has created us for both the need to be alone and the need to connect with your community. We follow Jesus’ example of retreating often to solitary places, and we also follow Paul’s teaching on the importance of connecting with the body of Christ.

How do you need to recharge today?


Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety Marriage

Marriage and Anxiety

Marriage often brings two different people who work together to become one, and in so doing, there is some growth between the two people. My husband, with his calm demeanor, has helped me tremendously with my anxiety, while I, with my organization and administration, have helped him to plan better. However, if we’re not careful, we can let anxiety put a wedge in between our marriage. Our previous coping mechanisms can isolate us, and can confuse our spouse, especially if he or she does not struggle with anxiety.

Before I met Lenny, I believed that my husband would cure my anxiety. For those who are single and waiting for a man to fix you, read this carefully: Marriage does not fix you. Only God can take your brokenness, redeem you, and make you new. But for those who are married, God can use your husband, however great or however flawed he is, to help in that sanctification process.

You cannot rely on another person to fix your anxiety. While therapists, friends, and family can help, you still need to deal with your anxiety yourself. No one can make you stop believing lies; only you can. No one can control you when you have a panic attack; only you can. The only difference between being married and single is, now you have to be open with your spouse about your anxiety, and see how God uses him/her to help you overcome it.

While anxiety has consumed less of my life in the last couple of years, here are some practical ways to be open with your spouse about your struggle with anxiety:

  1. Be clear with your spouse about your fears, triggers, etc. If you have been following along with this blog long enough, you have dealt with your triggers, so you know how to communicate them with your spouse. Your spouse may not understand right away, so he/she might need a reminder. I’ve told my husband about my obsessive thoughts, and it didn’t click with him until I was telling him about another person who had the same disorder. Suddenly, my anxiety made sense to him. He said, “Oh, is that why you do such and such?” If you have specific coping mechanisms, tell them to your spouse, especially if they involve what to do in the middle of a panic attack. Although you may be tempted to isolate yourself when anxiety strikes, you can’t do that anymore. You need to let your spouse into your pain. I’ll warn you, it is not an easy process, but it will help you both become one in your journey together.
  2. Don’t be afraid to say no. For most people, anxiety is like a physical ailment. When I’ve had an anxiety-inducing day, the last thing I want to do is be around people. I don’t want to be exposed to more anxiety. If I know a situation is going to bring me into panic, I tell my husband I can’t do it. He understands, and he advocates for me.
  3. Be flexible when you can’t say no. We both have family in Florida (a plane ride, or a ridiculous drive, away). I hate planes, as they give me debilitating anxiety, but I can’t let that be an excuse not to see my family. If my husband has a work event, or a family gathering where I have to be, and I’m not able to say no, I kind of have to suck it up. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Remember that you have to be there for your spouse, and take the focus off of yourself. Now, if you are forced to go to an obligation, plan ahead. If you have an anxiety-inducing event on Tuesday, take it easy on Monday or Wednesday.

Don’t let anxiety creep into your marriage. Bring your anxiety to God, and then to your spouse, to find healing and to become one in your marriage.


Photo by Kylli Kittus on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

distracting myself

Do you have OCD? Well, I have the obsessive part but not the compulsive. I don’t have chronic compulsive behaviors, but I do have obsessive thoughts that I can’t get out of my head! Like a bad song. I also have psychosomatic symptoms, so when I have an idea in my head, it almost always makes me sick.

Recently, I caught myself before I was about to go into the “obsessive” trap. I ate something, and I thought it would make me sick. Almost instantly after I thought it, my stomach began to turn. I was going to be sick. But I recognized the thought, realized that I wouldn’t get sick that quickly (especially conveniently after the thought just entered my head!), and then told myself I was fine. The more I thought, “I’m fine,” instead of, “I’m going to be sick,” the less sick I felt over time.

It was literally all in my head.

When a thought enters my head, it won’t leave. But, now that I’m older, I have learned how to drown out the thoughts. It’s called distraction.

Here are some practical ways to distract yourself, so that you don’t have to keep hearing the noise of regret, doubt, shame, or simply that nagging voice telling you what you need to do:

  • Music: I’ll typically listen to something that will calm me down, so that my body will naturally relax. Worship music is my go-to, as a lot of worship songs talk about the healing power of God, or about whatever I need from God in that moment. Focusing on God’s presence instead of the false pretense that something bad will happen shows me the truth, that my anxiety is a lie and that God’s will is for me to have peace. The same is true for you.
  • Prayer: While listening to music is a defensive way to distract yourself from obsessive thoughts (it’s like a shield), prayer and reading the Bible are both offensive. Think of prayer as a sword. You are declaring the promises of God out loud to yourself and your fear. You are speaking to the anxiety and telling it to leave. You are actively speaking against what your heart might be feeling or your mind might be thinking. You are speaking to a real person, who cares for you, listens to you, and helps you in your time of need.
  • Reading the Bible out loud: Like prayer, the Bible is a sword we can use to pierce the anxiety and the obsessive thoughts. Open up to the Psalms or one of the Epistles (in the New Testament) and read about God’s love for you. Reading it out loud uses more senses (hearing, seeing, and feeling) than it does if we simply read it in our heads. It also proves to be more of a distraction from the obsessive thoughts, as you’re focusing outside of your head rather than within.
  • Games: Sometimes, a good old-fashioned game on my phone helps me relax. When I’m anxious or have thoughts I can’t control, I’ll play a game of solitaire and take deep breaths. If I’m extra anxious, I may play a couple of games, but usually by the first game I’ve calmed myself enough to move on.
  • Journaling: This is one of my favorite ways to distract myself. It helps me process my thoughts (instead of ignoring them) and it gives me a reference for when I’m dealing with the same issue in the future. I love looking back on journals I’ve written 10 years ago and gaining insight from my teenage years.

These things help me drown out the noise in my head. What about you?

Categories
anxiety

God Gives Us More Than We (Think) We can Handle

When I was in college, as part of my major, I had to go on an internship out of the country for at least six weeks. After months of searching and praying, I finally found an internship in Andalucia, Spain, with an organization called Camino Global (which has since then merged with Avant Ministries). It was required that I speak at least intermediate Spanish, and I had to raise funds all on my own. Then, when I finally learned Spanish and mustered up the funds, I had to take a plane by myself, and be in a country where I didn’t know anyone…all by myself.

Needless to say, it was more than I could handle.

A common misnomer is that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. The basis for this is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. I’ve wrestled with this for years because, as I struggle with anxiety and know that God has spared me from so much pain, I know that God truly is in control of my life. But there also have been times where I truly believed that God had given me more than I could handle.

The axiom should be replaced with God knows what we can handle. Instead of trusting in our own strength, we can trust in the grace of God. We can trust His hand to guide our lives. The early church was persecuted for their faith; Paul even says that when they were in Asia, they were burdened beyond what they could bear (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But, as Paul declares, God didn’t allow them to go through beating and mocking for nothing. Rather, Paul and his missionary team endured trials so that they could rely on God and not on themselves.

We place limits on ourselves that God never put there. God also places limits on us through our circumstances when we think we can handle it. The same guy from the Bible, Paul, heard “no” from God several times. God actually prevented Paul from going to Asia and Bithynia at a certain point in his ministry (Acts 16:6). There are different speculations about why Paul wasn’t allowed to go to those places at those specific times, but the short answer is: it wasn’t God’s will. Maybe it’s that Paul couldn’t handle it, but maybe it’s that God knew what was best for everyone involved in the situation.

To come back to my experience in Spain, I did it. Taking a plane by myself was difficult, and even debilitating, but God provided. On the way there, I sat next to two gentlemen who traveled to Spain every year; they gave me advice about what to do, and they even showed me how to go through customs. On the way home (the longest flight I’ve ever been on), I sat with a boy from Israel whose family had moved to Texas; because he was sitting away from his family, I felt responsible for him, which gave me little time to worry. On my connecting flight, I sat with a guy who was a prayer leader for Liberty University, and he prayed with me during the flight. And that was just the plane.

The first few days were hard, but again, I did it. I made some friends and listened to music and practiced my Spanish. I had a couple of nightmares, and I did panic once, but God used the people around me to help me find peace in Him. By the end of the experience, I was ready to go back to Spain after paying off my college loans. Thank You, God, for your grace!

During that time, God knew what I could handle. His grace sustained me through the six weeks I was away from family and friends. In fact, His grace allowed me to make new family and friends. However, there were other times where I wanted to go and serve Him in other countries, but He closed each door. I like to think that God knew what I could handle, and that He found another person who He would grow like He grew me in Spain.

You’re braver than you think. You can handle more than you think you do. But for the things that debilitate you, trust in God’s grace. He knows what you can handle.


Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

The day they locked me in a salt cave

We went to a salt cave a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, I was living under a rock, because I thought we were going to a literal cave. But actually, it isn’t a cave at all. It’s a building that is filled with Himalayan pink salt, which has never been processed. People with allergies, dry skin, joint pain, and anxiety, can benefit from the atmosphere as they breathe in salty air, lay back in zero gravity chairs, and stick their sock-covered toes in the pebbles beneath them.

What I’m going to say does not reflect my experience at the salt cave in particular, so I am not going to say where I went. The staff was great, and people seemed to enjoy it, but I would neither recommend it nor tell you not to go. This is simply what went through my mind while I was sitting in that chair, in the dark, in a closed room with four other people I didn’t know.

When we arrived, the staff made us take off our shoes and recommended that we use the restroom before we started, since we wouldn’t be able to walk out once the session began. Oh, great, put me in a room full of strangers and lock the door. Sounds relaxing to me! Upon entering the room, we were told not to talk, snore, or get up during the experience. Again, I felt trapped. Thankfully, there was a chair right next to the door, and even if we couldn’t move, I at least pretended I could leave.

As we sat in our chairs, the door gently closed, and music began to play. For forty-five minutes. I had nothing to do but breathe and think. So that’s what I did.

I took a deep breathe and felt like I was at the beach. Oh, THAT’S why the beach relaxed me. I thought about how stressful my life has been, and how I hadn’t made any time for myself. But as I took another deep breathe, I thought about how many opportunities there are to relax. We can get a massage, we can do yoga, we can even go to a salt cave. But how come those don’t have lasting effects?

Needless to say, the salt cave did not help my anxiety, but it did make my skin feel like I had taken a bath in body lotion. Seriously, my skin was soft for at least a week after going. So, that was a plus. But since this post is about anxiety and not about skin care, I’ll finish my musings about anxiety.

What I didn’t mention was that I had done some research about this particular salt cave before making an appointment. They do not just have a spot where you can sit in salt for an hour; they also have psychic mediums, reiki, and singing bowls. Knowing this, here is why these self-care techniques don’t have lasting effects.

In my Christian faith and my understanding of the Bible, I believe that we are spiritual beings. Our souls have eternal value. I completely believe in the spiritual forces behind yoga, mediums, reiki, etc., because I have seen it first hand, before I came to know Jesus. However, I do not trust in these spiritual forces, as they are not for Jesus, but against Him. Jesus wants to set me free from anxiety, but the “other side” wants to keep me in bondage. While it looks like these mainstream self-care techniques want to give us peace, it’s not true peace. It’s numbing the pain, not dealing with it.

True peace comes from recognizing that our souls are secure in Christ. When we leave this life (because every one of us will one day die, or Jesus will come back), will we be in the loving arms of God, or far away from Him in the pit of despair? When we know that God will be with us no matter what, suddenly, everything we fear doesn’t seem so scary anymore. It’s not that we’ll never struggle with anxiety again, but that we have a Person to turn to when we do have those panic attacks, instead of dealing with it on our own.

In a world that wants to medicate pain instead of treating the wound, don’t lock yourself in a salt cave! Check your heart before you indulge in any self-care techniques. Some Christians enjoy yoga, and I have no problem with that, as long as they do their research and treat it more like a stretching exercise than like a spiritual awakening. No matter what you do to relax, meditate on the God who can offer you true peace. Only in Christ will you have true peace in God.


Photo by Vincent Erhart on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Who (or what) is your master?

As a Christian struggling with anxiety and worry, I cannot tell you how many times people have quoted Matthew 6 to me. Not that I don’t love the Word of God, but after hearing Philippians 4:6 and Matthew 6:25-34 over and over again, it seems more like a spiritual band-aid than as loving.

While reading Matthew 6 today, I realized that Jesus isn’t just talking about anxiety here. He’s talking about money.

The original Bible wasn’t split up into sections like it is today (in fact, Jesus spoke these words, so the original Bible wasn’t even written!), but the Bible is organized the way it is for a reason. In the NIV translation, the following is all one section (Matthew 6:19-24):

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

We should not store up treasure that this life offers, because it will not last. We can know what’s in our hearts based on what we treasure, and based on what we seek.

In the second paragraph of this passage, the word “healthy” can also be translated as “generous” or “single” in Greek, so we must have eyes to see money and wealth the way that God sees them. God is merciful and generous, so we also must be merciful and generous. Instead of holding on to wealth, we should have an open hand, willing to receive and willing to give at any moment.

Finally, we can only serve one master, and if we’re chasing after money, we’re not serving God. In fact, Pastor Robert Morris claims that “money” in this case, often translated as “Mammon,” was a literal figure.

It’s interesting that this passage is right before Matthew 6:25-34, the passage of Scripture that everyone loves to quote to those of us with anxiety.

We have needs, and it is normal to worry about how those needs will be met. Our basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, and security. We are conditioned to worry about where those needs will be met, because in the real world, we have to get our own food, clothing, shelter, and security. Jesus originally shared this with people who had to provide, not only for their families, but also for their communities: fishermen, farmers, clothing designers, carpenters, and the like. Of course they had to worry about where their next meal would come from; it was their job!

However, Jesus tells us not to chase after treasures on earth. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we have; it only matters that we pursued righteousness (Proverbs 11:4). Jesus wasn’t saying that it’s wrong to work or that it’s wrong to have money. He is saying that it’s more important for us to be pursuing righteousness than it is for us to be focusing on our paychecks.

God loves you, and God is in control. As scary as it is to not be in control, it’s so much more comforting to know that God, who has been around longer than any of us, knows what He’s doing. And, as it says in Matthew 6:33, when we put God first, we’ll have His righteousness and we’ll have our needs met.

Who is your master? Trust God with your needs today.


Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

What have you accomplished today?

A few weeks ago, we discussed abandoning our to-do lists so that we could rely more on God and can have more peace. Some of you have admitted that it’s difficult to give up a to-do list, especially with our busy schedules and all the appointments we have to make. So, for those of you who are performance-based, accomplishment-driven, or just plain disorganized and in need of some structure, here is another way to look at your tasks for the day.

Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church shared in his leadership podcast that the habit he wants to create this year is to celebrate little wins. He has been so focused on the big tasks, that he doesn’t want to forget about the everyday accomplishments and blessings that come his way.

While looking at my to-do list, I realized how condemning it was. The way I have it set up, I’m never going to be satisfied. I may have a list of 50 items, but if I do all but one task, I feel like I’ve failed. And even if I do all the items on my list, throughout the day, I’ll realize there were items I forgot to add to my list.

Why not focus on the items that I did accomplish?

I understand that people may not want to boast in their accomplishments. “Let those who boast, boast in the Lord,” the Scriptures say. But I’ve found that, instead of focusing on our accomplishments, we tend to focus on our shortcomings, which also does not glorify God. Think about it: God has given us the strength and the ability to accomplish all that He wants us to do. If we sit around thinking we’re failures or that our lives are too overwhelming for us, we’re neglecting to use the power, grace and strength He has given us.

Here is what I do now. At the beginning of the week, I write a list of what I’d like to accomplish. Since I have multiple freelance clients, in addition to my part-time job and the ministries I’m involved in at church, it’s easy for me to have an idea of what to expect in the next couple of days. Whether I want to work on my book, follow-up with a client, or spend time with friends, it’s helpful to see what’s on the agenda.

However, every day, at the end of the day, I take out my journal and write what I’ve accomplished. I don’t even look at my to-do list; I simply look back on the day and reflect on what went right. Then, I write at the bottom: “God, thank You for helping me to accomplish these things.”

So, I ask you, what have you accomplished today? If you are a perfectionist, like me, you may feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. You may feel like you’ve done a lot of work but nothing to show for it. Let me encourage you, and challenge you, to consider what little victories you have made today that can propel you to keep going.

This week, try writing down what you’ve accomplished. Put away the to-do list, and focus on what you’ve done right.

To give you an idea, since waking up this morning about two hours ago, here is what I’ve accomplished:

  • Woke up
  • Spent quality time with my husband at breakfast
  • Read the Bible
  • Did an intense workout 
  • Made the bed
  • Took a shower
  • Got dressed
  • Wrote a blog post

I didn’t change the world doing any of these things today. I didn’t make any money. I didn’t even affect anyone’s life, really. But what I accomplished so far matters, and knowing what I’ve already done will motivate me to make it through the rest of the day.

God, thank You for helping me to accomplish these things.


Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

You’re braver than you think

I always beat myself up for having anxiety, but the truth is: for those of us who have anxiety, we are braver than we know. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Anxiety makes it seem like whatever is giving us fear is strong enough to keep us in bondage, but when we do what makes us afraid―like go on planes, put ourselves in awkward social situations, or deal with conflict at work―we’re acting in courage.

The key is to not let our fear overtake us.

After traveling recently, I researched ways that flight attendants help passengers who are scared of flying (like me!). I learned that flight attendants are trained to make passengers feel comfortable and safe on each flight. But in some of these articles, I read flight attendants’ stories about how fearful flyers “gave in to fear.” The worst one that someone experienced was where a customer made a threat against the airline, so they had to call security to bring the customer off the flight.

There have been times when I’ve given into fear, when I’ve let fear take over me. But now that I’ve had several fearful experiences happen to me, I’ve learned that anxiety-inducing situations are part of life. In the middle of the storm, it’s better to do what makes me scared than to let fear stop me. If I didn’t do what made me afraid, there would be days where I would be curled up in a ball in my bed, listening to the clock tick on the wall next to me. That doesn’t sound like an exciting life!

As a Christian, I always hear people saying to let my faith be bigger than my fear. For a while, I’ve assumed that meant that God was going to shrink my fear and grow my faith. However, as I’ve learned over the years, I have a part to play as well. God grows my faith, but it’s my responsibility to choose to trust my faith instead of my fear.

God doesn’t make things easy for us just because we’re scared. Gideon, for example, was a man who almost let fear get in the way of him being used by God. Yet through each moment, God was faithful, and continued to give Gideon strength. You can read his story in Judges 6. Gideon was the weakest member of his family, who was part of the weakest tribe of Israel. But when the angel of the Lord came to speak to Gideon, he said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” The angel told Gideon, essentially, that he was braver than he thought. God was about to use this man, and three-hundred able men, to bring down Israel’s enemy.

My favorite part of the story of Gideon is that God truly cancelled every reason for Gideon to fear. The night before Gideon and his army would attack, God told him to go to the enemy camp and listen to a man speak. God promised Gideon that he would be encouraged after visiting the camp. Here is the account of what happened when Gideon obeyed:

Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. ‘I had a dream,’ he was saying. ‘A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.’ His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands'” (Judges 7:13-15).

Of course, Gideon had to go and fight, but God had prepared the way for him to have the victory. I believe that God does the same for us in our struggles. We may not always understand what God is doing, but He gives us just enough to get a taste of the victory we’re going to have through Him. Then, He gives us the strength and courage to act.

Will we take that next step in obedience to God?

No matter how much God does for us, we have to trust Him. We have to make that effort, as He has given us that responsibility to act in faith. God could open a door wide open for us, but it is our job to step through the doorway.

So, what are you scared of today? You don’t have to attack it head on, but if it’s stopping you from living the life that God has for you, you need to deal with it somehow. Even if fear threatens to cripple you, do it scared. Trust me: You’re braver than you think!


Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash