One thing that I have learned about myself over the years is that I like the feeling of being in control. I don't mean in a "I'm the boss all the time" sort of way, more in a planning way. I'm a planner to a T. I thrive on being organized. I'm not obsessively organized (just check out the piles of clothes that have been on my dresser for weeks), but I love the comfort of knowing what's going on, of knowing what to expect.
I didn't realize how important feeling in control really was to me until I've been recently struggling with a bit of anxiety. On the surface everything is going well in my life. I have a wonderful husband, great family, I'm in a place of unemployment which I'm actually enjoying because it's given me an opportunity to pursue new things, to explore dreams I never thought I could. I'm being intentional about choosing joy, about finding fun moments, about planning get-togethers and exciting opportunities. And yet right in the midst of this joy- I find myself experiencing bouts of anxiety where my heart races, my chest gets tight, my breathing gets shallow, my mind goes into a downward spiral that often involves me feeling like I'm going to be sick or perhaps even die (yeah it's a little ridiculous). A simple trip to a friend's house has got me worked up thinking "oh dear, what if I have an anxiety attack there? What if I have to throw up? What if I get sick and have to excuse myself to go home? What if I have to go to the bathroom and there's nowhere to go?"
I must admit it has been a really big struggle for me. Not feeling in control in these moments (and not understanding where it is coming from or why) has thrown me for a loop. But this isn't where I want my focus to be...
This morning as I sat at my kitchen table with my potatoes, pancake, bible, and my daily devotional- I was really struck by the reading for today. [The following quotes are taken from (Jesus Calling) a daily devotional by Sarah Young.]
"Many things feel out of control." -- Yup. Sure do.
"Your routines are not running smoothly." -- I wish they were!
"You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable." -- Nailed it.
But besides nailing my emotions on the head, the reading has given me an encouragement in dealing with it.
"When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new."
I've basically been doing one half of that equation. I have definitely been gripping His hand tightly because quite frankly that's all I feel I can do in those moments of panic. I take a lot of deep breaths, self-talk, think of scripture, pray, and wait for the moment to pass. But what I haven't been too good at is looking for growth opportunities and accepting the challenge of something new.
It's so easy to go through life in our routines, trying to stay in our comfort zones. But what Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is that our lives are all about transformation. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." Each moment, each situation, each struggle is an important part of the process of changing, of becoming more like Christ.
Dealing with this anxiety stuff, this reminder is difficult because it challenges me to consider even this as a growth opportunity. I am so so thankful that in the moments of anxiousness I can cling to the One who protects me and know that He has overcome the world. But now, beyond that, I need to think about how I can look at it as a growth opportunity to becoming a better version of myself, to becoming more like Christ.
The image at the top of the page is one from Meghan Klein's Instagram page. [She was the assistant photographer at my wedding. Be sure to check out her webpage. Her work is lovely.] With this photo she shared a quote that has been an encouragement and a challenge to me the past few weeks. And I'd like to leave you with this:
"Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Him set the pace. Hold his hand in trust & the way before you will open up step by step."