“I’m beginning to think that there is something wrong with the way that I react to things. This has been on my mind because times that make others feel happy make me feel sad, and ideas that should be wistful feel like weights on my chest. The fact that I can’t pay my bills feels like a brick that is hooked to my ribcage. What I should see as wonderful I see as terrifying, and I am finding myself more and more frightened by things and can’t seem to figure out why.” – One of my entries into the Emo-Journal I cry into before listening to old MCR and wearing fish net shirts
I don’t know if either one of you readers have noticed, but when I’m emotionally torqued I get quite whiney. I’ve noticed this, and I feel very grateful for those who put up with my constant “waaaaah!” Believe you me, I would rather be productive, or even just happy, but apparently I was created to be in touch with the sides of myself that finds anxiety in many situations.
This anxiety is triggered by the following, but is not restricted to; the current job hunt, relationships with my female friends, food, relationships with my male friends, money, my family, planning things, food being stuck visibly in my teeth, the fact that my hips hurt a lot these days, the condition of my skin, the sound of people coming up the stairs or slamming doors, the idea that I or someone else cannot logically control themselves on an emotional level, whether or not there is hot water for a tubby, whether or not one of the cats got stuck somewhere and will pee on things or die, cigarettes and how much I need to quit smoking, alcohol and how much I think I should quit drinking, television, singing in front of other people, self-medication in all forms, trust, and generational curses.
During my college years I went through some interesting and possibly defining moments that involved all kinds of things that gave me anxiety, including a few of the things listed in the Anxiety Triggers List above. Usually I would end up talking to my dad about the money problems, fears, and anxieties, and he would always tell me to look up a certain verse. (“What does the bible say about that? I don’t remember what part it is, but Jesus says not to worry about it. That he cares about the lilies but he cares more about you. So look it up.”)
I did. I had that verse staring at me each time I opened the bible for 4 years. It was obnoxious, really, because of how simply it states God’s views on anxiety.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” – Luke 12:25-28
Sometimes I think God loves to proverbially slap people in the face with the bible. I understand why, because I am also a big fan of people understanding what you’re saying the first time and trusting you to mean what you say, but it’s not always pleasant to be hit in the face with a hardcover.
Of course he’s going to point out the obvious here, when you worry about things you aren’t having faith. Well, I must tell you that I DO have faith! I just also have realistic ideas about what can happen in my life if I lead it the way that doesn’t scare me into anxiety spirals, which would be not leaving the house, putting the communication devices in the woods out back, reading and writing and drawing and watching movies and nothing else really at whatever time of the day I happen to wake up. That doesn’t provide much opportunity for God to work his plans into my life, especially if they involve other people. So I do it on purpose, I scare myself with life because it’s important not to miss everything. (Please note: I do not care about missing every possible thing, I just care about missing anything that could be good or bad or challenging because I decided to truly turn the house into the next Grey Gardens.)
Writing about these struggles now requires me to make two points.
When I was a really young kid my favorite bible story was from Mark 4, the story of Jesus and his disciples taking a boat trip that gets hit by a bit of rough weather. Jesus was napping in the stern, which is cool because he had been busy telling stories with double meanings all day, when one of his guys woke him up and asked if he was cool with them drowning. The poor kid. Not only did he wake up the son of God (Which is something you want to really think about for at least a solid 20 minutes, no matter why you think it’s necessary) but he also woke him up to flip out on him in a passive aggressive way. So Jesus got up, told the weather to stop, it did, then asked the disciples “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
When I was 4-years-old or somewhere around there I went to a birthday party where they played us a nifty 80’s cartoon of this. I loved it, probably because I was geeking out on frosting and candy, and this I remember: when my mom came to get me she asked me in this person’s living room about the movie, quizzing me on my bible stories, and when it got to what Jesus told his disciples about the entire faux pas… well, I don’t know if it’s because I had a lisp and heard everyone through a lisp-filter, or if the adorable little cartoon had shoddy craftsmanship, but I told her Jesus asked his disciples “Where is your faces?” Mom still think this is a very funny story, but I’ve been thinking about it for other reasons. When I was little and I got scared I covered myself up. If I was afraid of things I couldn’t see in my room (with a sister who sees demons and feels God’s hand, please don’t judge me) I would make sure that my blanket was tucked around me, and I would put the blanket up over my head and tuck that in. (Even now, if I hear something late at night in the house or something, my feet are going to be tucked. It’s logical, if they get through the blankets and get my feet I can’t run away!) So I thought Jesus was making an excellent point at the time of hearing the word Faces instead of Faith, because scared people don’t have faith, and scared people cover their faces instead of facing what’s scary. Hence I refuse to let myself be scared by things like public speaking, meeting new people… my extroverted side completely gets this story. So while I was a lispin-lass I also was brilliant, if you hadn’t noticed, because I made this connection when I was somewhere in the 4-year-old age range and have sort of lived with it in the back of my mind ever since (which might add to my constant list of things that make me such a child most of the time). I have always considered myself one who lives looking forward to the promises that God gave me, and I am stubborn enough to say that my refusal to debate what I believe he will do for me, or that he means anything less than what he says, can be called faith.
This leads me to my second point: I strongly believe that the areas of your life that cause you the most anguish, grief, drama, discouragement, etc, are the areas that have the best possible potential for God to work and blast your socks off with his amazingly creative ways of following through. I really truly and honestly believe in God and his promises and miracles and that he loves me and has a great plan that I have no clue about. I also struggle with not knowing the plan, with not feeling loved (5 love languages anyone?) and with not getting to “experience” miracles in my own life. So this has to be important! Why would the devil give me such a hard time with these things otherwise? He wants to fuck up what could easily and powerfully give glory to God. And the devil is smart, because he knows that most of us look at the areas of our lives that are hard and say “No, thank you, I’ll do other thing instead.” He’s a thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. And obviously he would like to steal some of the glory that should belong to God or else he wouldn’t have gotten fired and exiled in the first place. So he’ll steal your thoughts, lie to you, kill your hope, and other things that Hitler would have loved to know about during WWII because it will leave us desolate, useless, and most likely completely drained in the area that would offer the most glory to God.
And so I would call myself a woman of faith, on those days I think I’ve acted like a grown-up, and I do think that because of the challenges I face with it there is strength there that I haven’t figured out about yet. Same thing with prayer, but I’ll give that one its own post or 40.