Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Beauty In Leaning Into My Anxiety

I have anxiety.

That sentence alone takes more courage to write than I am comfortable admitting....which is to say I don't like that I have anxiety, and I like even less admitting that I do. So...there is that.

Anxiety was something other people had....right up until the moment my counselor used the word in a session with me....to describe what was happening to me. Me?! Me.

I have mentioned it a tad here and there, more alluding to it than owning it. You might say that I looked at it as something else in my life to be managed. Some days, like anything else, I was winning the battle, and others....not so much.

My coping mechanisms for my anxiety are as varied and awkward as I am. Funny, huh?!

There is the stuffed monkey I occasionally have to sleep with....awkward.

There are the ice cold washcloths that I have to apply to my chest, and if the attack is bad....my entire body.

There are the numbing mechanisms that range from a glass of wine, a glass of scotch, a cigar, a bacon double cheeseburger, a cherry sprite with light ice from Sonic, a M&M blast no whip from Sonic, Popeye's fried chicken, or just a fried food smorgasbord.

I have spent the past year and a half adapting healthy "coping" mechanisms and limiting or wiping out my "numbing" ones. I have learned a lot about my body, my mind, and I have tried to be open that I am working to re-learn what is "comfort" and what is "numbing" - and ALL of it makes me feel like a big loser because can't I just be normal.

*insert eye roll*

I can't. Neither can you. There are crosses we all have to bear, and this is one of mine. The truth is I have had functioning anxiety probably since I was eight years old. That too is hard to admit. The truth is that in the brokenness of my life back then, anxiety manifested, and coping mechanisms were born, and some of them helped to save my life....and others led to bad habits that I am now alerted to in my 40s and working to unwind as quickly and in the most healthy manner available to me.

Here is why I am writing this....

The enemy is coming at me now, TODAY, in new fresh ways that it has taken more than a hot minute for me to catch on to. So today I am laying down a fresh line in the sand RIGHT in the throes of what can only be described as an ongoing anxiety attack that is picking up steam by the day. I am actually typing right now even as my chest is exploding and my mind is ON FIRE. I am in the middle of an act of defiance. This is me giving the enemy the bird. So to speak.

This morning I watched Sarah Wilson talking about her new book "First, We Make The Beast Beautiful" and fell out in the floor. First, let me say, I am not sure how I even got to You Tube and the video. I was on her site looking at some travel photos because we all know that I have the world's worst case of wanderlust, and I follow her because she travels and blogs and takes amazing photos. She is also known for quitting sugar, but you know I don't follow her for that - don't even play. See above paragraph regarding my numbing mechanisms. Anyway, I watch her video and find a couple of snippets from the book, and I just am tripping out. Let's be honest. Tripping. Out.

Then for some reason, I go and find this book I have been reading entitled "A Theology of the Ordinary" by Julie Canlis which I started last weekend and for whatever reason did not finish EVEN though I talked about it ALL weekend. It is a great, fast read, and I highly recommend. Check out Amazon to snag a copy.

Anyway, suddenly the conversations I have been having with "my people" (and they all know who they are) since January of this year (and really for a LOT longer than that) just started falling into place.

I have been doing this ALL wrong.

The writing.

The counseling.

The creativeness.

The consulting.

The work.

The storytelling.

The....fill-in-the-blank.

Somewhere along the line my anxiety (or the enemy - you determine for yourself) had convinced me that while all of this STUFF coming at me like a tsunami was of God, I had to somehow corral it, guide it, get fixed (i.e., counseling) for it, manage it, run it....oh and fix myself too don't forget....because the eyes were on me, or they would be. It was about me.

Jesus Wept. (here is looking at you Jon)

I am not sure how I got that all distorted and jacked up, but I did because as soon as I got done with church (great lesson out of Thessalonians) - I sat down and sent the most long-winded dissertation to two friends that I knew would stop me if what I had "heard" was too far gone. Then, because something in me said, "Don't wait one minute longer." I didn't wait for their reply - I started lining up and out what was going to be needed to launch some of this creative hot mess that has been bubbling for so very long.

ALL the while, my anxiety rumbles on. I took a hot bath....resisted the urge to go buy out Popeye's and prayed.....and it would not let up. I got out and checked my messages knowing it was too soon for a reply....I mean one of them is in France.... #forthelove ....but it wasn't. Both of them...BOTH had replied...."Keep Going" and then I posted on my writing page. If I am going to be held accountable - that group is going to do it. Ten seconds, "the text" - if you don't have a Lesley in your life, you are missing out. I could see her silly grin through the text. She knew.

So here I am in the middle of an anxiety attack that is NOT letting up, and I am crying joyful tears - writing ALL the hard words - saying just enough that I am now accountable and not too much to ruin the surprises that will be unfolding. AND I am going to be okay. Why? Because God has me...he has my heart.

*as I wrote that I just got a text message from someone who saw a heart in a tree and sent it to me*

*another text from a friend starting counseling soon; first appointment made*

I hear you God. You love them. You love me.

Breathe pretty girl.

We are all out here living out our stories, and I for one think the beauty of life is in the sharing of those stories because God is ALL in them. Every wink to every laugh to every anxiety attack. He is in the icky sticky, the messy, the beauty, the loss, and the growth.

I am done fighting this anxiety. The fight is a distraction from the cause which is new creative growth. I am done fighting against what God is putting inside of me. I am opening the floodgates come what may.
 
"The Spirit gives us gifts to add to the body of Christ, so that the whole body can be on its mission together (Eph 4:12, Rom 12:4)." {from A Theology of the Ordinary}

On mission together.

I am leaning into that promise which results in me leaning into my anxiety.

How about that?
 
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. // Genesis 50:20

I have always admired Joseph faithful perseverance, but this verse is a reminder to me that God has the final say over my life, my circumstances, and yes....even the gifts he has put inside of me.

So here is to embracing what the world says we need to fix about ourselves and letting God use it for whatever his will dictates.

I am leaning into him.

It is time for the enemy to take a seat.