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
Marriage

Where is Hope Found?

In modern English, hope has become an empty word. For example, when one says, “I hope everything works out,” there is no substance behind those words. The hope is not based on facts, circumstances, or even prayers! Therefore, when Paul says Love always hopes, what does he mean?

I love learning other languages, so I’m thankful for the resources out there that can make Greek and Hebrew (the languages the Bible was originally written in) easy to understand! In Greek, the word hope is elpizó, which means “actively waiting for God’s fulfillment about the faith He has inbirted through the power of His love.” In this meaning, the hope has substance. Love always active waits for God to fulfill his promises.

We live in a culture that is generally negative. People always have a reason to complain, and they take every chance they can to voice their critical opinions to us. Hope is a rare commodity.

However, Biblical hope has even more substance than the positivity that we crave in our world. In Romans 8, Paul talks about Biblical hope. The same word elpizó is used in this text to describe our expectation of God fulfilling His promise to redeem the world:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:22-24).

This entire chapter of Scripture has been viewed as a champion chapter for believers. We know through Romans 8 that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (v. 1). We know that God has adopted us as His children, removing our fear of man (v. 15). We know that God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (v. 16). We know that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (v. 37). We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love (v. 38-39).

If this doesn’t instill hope in believers, I don’t know what does!

Although this was a fun Bible lesson, this post is on marriage. How can we hope in marriage? In my opinion, when we have a heavenly perspective, nothing else matters. When we know that we already have the best future waiting for us in the next life, when we know that we can live fulfilled lives by walking with God’s Spirit and obeying His Word, when we know that we will all be united as one body at the resurrection, suddenly my problems don’t seem so big anymore. Suddenly, I don’t care about how much money  we have in the bank or in our retirement. Suddenly, I don’t care that my husband leaves his dirty dishes in the sink. Suddenly, I don’t care that I’ve been having trouble losing weight. Because in the end, everything will work out, in the most beautiful and glorious way that any of us could ever hope.

I know a few of my readers have experiences way worse than the ones I’ve mentioned, like trying to conceive or facing bankruptcy or dealing with affairs. I don’t want you to think that I’m downplaying your trials. However, I do believe more than anything else that God is bigger than any trial you may be facing. At the end of the day, when you place your life in His tender loving care, He will see you through your storm. Right now, I know, the pain is unbearable and the storms make everything so unclear. Yet, when you look back on your life, those difficult trials that you face together (Paul describes them as momentary afflictions in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18) will be like a bad hair day.

The hope that Christ offers us is an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19). Anchor your marriage in the hope of Jesus Christ, and He will see you through every storm.


Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash