letting things flow

I’m starting to come to the realization that while my homeopathic constitutional remedy greatly helps with my anxiety, I will likely always be prone to anxiety problems.  Plus, merely living an adult life in an ever-changing, sinful world can be anxiety-provoking.  Add children to the mix, children for whom you only want the best and for whom the maturing of their minds and souls you feel keenly responsible — and it’s a recipe for anxiety.  It’s at times like these I need to remember the Bible passages that talk about anxiety, such as “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.”  Thanks to reactions in my mind (and body), it is very obvious to me when it’s anxiety I can’t control and when it’s anxiety I can try to control.  When I can’t control my anxiety (and it’s more biochemical in nature), my prayer is that God hold me in his hand and that he work even this out for my good.  When it’s anxiety I feel that I should try to control, my prayer is that God helps me to turn control of the future over to him and helps me to remember that my job is to simply be faithful.

When I’ve had anxiety moments recently, I’ve created a visual image that helps me.  It began to take shape after re-reading a childbirth book (Yes, I re-read favorite, interesting books in my spare moments. :)) that I hadn’t taken off of my shelf in a while.  I opened up the book at random, and happend to hit upon a page about Fear of Childbirth.  Despite two childbirths, I can still relate to that particular fear.  When I gave birth to Lyd, I was still in the Not Afraid of Anything stage of my life.  I approached childbirth confidently and almost totally without fear, and I had a marvelous birth.  With Jujubee’s birth, I was scared from the moment I knew I was pregnant.  I was scared of the pain the whole pregnancy, and I fought against the pain during my entire labor.  I couldn’t relax into the labor, I couldn’t ride the waves of the contractions, I couldn’t just let my body do what it needed to do, and remain emotionally unattached.

As I read in the book, I made the connection in my mind between fear of labor pain and fear of my anxiety.  I fear being anxious; I really do.  So I think it will serve me well over the long run to learn to NOT fear the anxiety, but to remain as relaxed as possible, despite what my body is doing.  I used to fear that the anxiety would never stop, but now I’ve dealt with this long enough to know that the anxiety always ends, sooner or later.  I need to learn to ride the waves of the anxiety, as it often does wash over me in waves.  And when I’m feeling anxiety, I need to just let my body do what it will, and not fight it.

I created this visual image of me sort of surfing on the waves of the anxiety, except it’s not a surfboard that I’m riding on – it’s the palm of God’s hand.  That image has been helping me lately.  The calmer I can stay, the quicker the anxiety goes away.  So, picturing myself calm and serene in God’s hand, despite the churning waters below me, is an image to which I can latch on.  If it’s a biochemical anxiety that I can’t control, I can visualize being safe in God’s hand.  If it’s an anxiety I think I can control, I can still visualize being safe in God’s hand, no matter what may happen.  The visual works no matter what the cause.

I plan to use that image to face other fears in my life, too, one of them being my fear of childbirth.  If I am to be a doula (and that’s really what I want to be, more than anything else), then my learning how to conquer my own fear of labor will enable me to better help other women conquer their fears, too.  It’s funny; I wouldn’t have expected that reading a childbirth book would have helped me with my anxiety, but it did.

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Tonight as I was preparing supper, the thought occured to me that my Grandma Violet was about the same age that I am now when her husband became an invalid in a wheel chair.  Grandpa had Multiple Sclerosis, and back then in the early 1950’s, they didn’t know what to label it other than the Creeping Paralysis.  My dad says that his father went into a wheel chair when he was four years old, which means Grandma would have had four kids, roughly aged 1, 4, 9, and 11 to care for, along with a dairy farm — and the sick husband, of course, when Grandpa went into a wheel chair.  Probably Grandma had been taking care of him for a while already before that happened, as MS is a slowly debilitating disease.  My goodness, that must have been difficult for her.  I literally can’t imagine it.

I was thinking about Grandma in regards to my anxiety, too, as I’m sure she dealt with plenty of anxiety in her life.  I know at least that in her later years, she would often lie awake at night, unable to sleep, when worries were on her mind.  Yet in one of my last visits with her, she told me, “Don’t worry so much, Emily.  Just let things flow.”  I think it’s interesting that she used water imagery, just like I mentioned earlier.  It’s good advice; don’t worry, just let things flow.  Considering what Grandma went through in her lifetime, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to get to a point where she could confidently give that advice.

So, as I learn to live with residual anxiety that still crops up in small ways now and then (and, I expect, always will), I’m going to try to keep Grandma’s advice in mind.  “Don’t worry so much, Emily.  Just let things flow.”  I know that, comparatively, my life is far easier than hers.  Yet, everyone has their own struggles, and those struggles are big to the person dealing with them.  Somehow, things always work out for good for God’s people, and even if life continues to be difficult here on earth, Christians have the knowledge that heaven is waiting for them.  No matter what we have to endure here, it won’t even begin to compare with the life that awaits us in heaven.

Grandma’s been enjoying life in heaven for almost a year now.  I think about her frequently, her and her daughter, my aunt.  I’ll be glad to join them someday and be freed from the problems of this world.  But meanwhile, there’s work for me to do here, especially to train up my children to know and love God as well.  More than anything, I want my children to join me in heaven someday.  So, I do my best to carry on a to be a good example for my girls.  Part of that example is to not worry, and to just ride along with whatever happens.  I’m glad to have had good examples of that for me to follow, and I hope I can be a good example for those who come after me, too.

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