When did my struggle with anxiety begin? The type of anxiety that torments and not the fun type connected to anticipation like the first day of school. The soul sucking kind of anxiety that picks at you when life seems to be just fine. For example, today, I wake up in my comfortable bed, and know that I have healthy food to eat and a happy life that awaits. My puppy starts to wag her tail and begs for a belly rub as soon as my feet hit the floor, reminding me of the simple pleasures in my life. I smile and rub. The innocent love of a puppy starts my day, and now its time to check on the kids. I am wondering, who else is up at 6:30am. I get ready to take my puppy for a quick walk, and already, I am feeling some slight anxiety to get the day started and our walk accomplished. There is a feeling of restlessness in the pit of my soul. I am not working today except for being the mom of 3 children in swim lessons for 2 straight weeks. As we start walking, I instantly start talking to God, ‘good morning God, good morning Jesus, good morning Holy Spirit, thank you for this gorgeous sunny day’. I breath in God and blow out my anxious feelings. Breath in, blow out. Over and over. I imagine God blowing through my soul and washing me with his glowing light. Ahhhhh. Where does this anxiety come from? Am I not happy and strong?
Its in that moment that I think, how can someone like me, with a loving husband, healthy kids, an air conditioned house, and the cutest puppy ever, be anxious. And what am I anxious about? Why do I feel restless? What is there to fear? I can’t think of why I feel unsettled, but I do. And some days its worse than others. But in this moment, I feel a deep emptiness, that all the blessings of my life cannot fill. I should be the happiest girl on earth, and I am happy, but still, there is a ache that I can’t put my finger on. Does anyone else relate to this? Is there something I should worry about? I do work on call as an RN in 3 different locations and part of me wonders if this is actually an underlying concern to me. I think that I like being on call, and having the freedom of choice but I am challenged being at the mercy of others needs. My work life is not really in my control, because I want to work when it works for my family, but ultimately its still based on their need for me. Such is life as a casual and I wonder if this bothers me more than I realize. So I talk to God and share my questions, why do I feel anxious?
It’s about this time in my thoughts, that I start to wonder, if I, Sheila Petersen, who has such an amazing life, struggles with anxiety, how do the poor, helpless, and vulnerable of the world deal with it? Seriously, who am I to worry about anything when all around me is blessing. Am I fearful of losing what I have? Or do we as first world people struggle with anxiety and hopelessness based on purpose, when the third world citizens are focused on the basic needs? Are we as humans meant to feel a certain amount of emptiness so that we are constantly seeking our Creators love and presence and continue to trust in Him alone? Is this the evil forces of Satan that start their attack the moment I wake up and my feet hit the floor running? Am I too confident and joyful walking with Jesus? Am I threat to Satans evil plans in this world? I believe Satan knows my weaknesses and knows what brings me down, and knows what thoughts are effective in his destructive attempts at my soul. I also believe that God is testing my character and allowing me to be challenged so that I can grow and prove that these attempts to discourage me are no longer a stumbling block for me. Whatever the reason, let Satan worry, because I am in love with my Creator, his Son and his Spirit. So I breath in again and blow out fear. And move on.
As I continue to walk, I start to think about the different people in my world right now. At this very moment, they are yelling at their children, or calming a screaming baby, or rushing off to work, or getting off a night shift and it reminds me of the movie, ‘Les Miserables’. My fav movie because it is a replica of our world and the birds eye view that God must have. The heart wrenching circumstances for so many poor, helpless, or abused. And again, I remember the movie and each character and I feel all of their pain. Even the pain of being the rude, abusive, selfish person. We have all been there at some point in our lives and for just a moment I feel the pain God must feel witnessing all of these lives. Where is the peace in this world? Where is the joy? And then I am reminded of the fresh air I am breathing, the sunshine on my face, and the puppy that is innocently tugging me along to the exciting smells of the neighbourhood. Life is still good. Life is still painful. But life is still worth it. I breath in God and blow out fear again.
I do love this life, but in my soul, I am reminded, there is much more than this. That’s what God is showing me. Don’t get too comfortable. Our work is not done here. Feel the hopelessness for a minute that some people may be feeling for days or weeks or years. Feel the uncertainty for a moment that some may be experiencing for a lifetime. Feel the weakness that is part of being a human and be reminded of my best friend and Creator that has my back. It’s a test. We fight back the pain with hope and joy and peace and God’s love. I am not strong enough on my own to be who God wants me to be. Thankfully, I am a daughter of the King, and together, I am powerful Christian force in this world. I am perfectly weak and made strong in Him. I am right where God wants me to be. Fully dependent on Him. Fully surrendered to Him. Fighting back at the negative thoughts, or emotions or circumstances with His joy, peace and hope. That’s my secret weapon and that’s my sanity in this life. Remembering and focusing on gratitudes and God’s purpose for my life. I accept this is my position in life, to be motivated towards an eternal purpose and learning the discipline of capturing each my thoughts. I believe God’s perfect plans is unfolding in my life, even when I am imperfect. My life does have divine purpose and I do have a reason to get up and walk my puppy today. I breath in God, and blow out purposelessness.
And so my final thought is, ‘I am sure walking my puppy is as great as smoking a cigarette’. I am not sure but my husband always said, I need a dog to walk my wife. I guess I have always been a bit restless and seeking answers to my anxious thoughts. I know I have a lot of natural energy and I love being in nature many times a day. That’s where I feel God and fill up my soul. My time. So since I adopted a puppy, I have been outside walking many times a day starting first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, mid afternoon, and after dinner. And that is why it dawned on me, I think I am outside as much as a smoker. And my puppy break reminds me of a smoke break. I get alone time, which equals quality soul time with God every time I walk my puppy. Ahhhh, life is good. It’s funny but I think I was actually created to feel anxiety and fear. As I actually feel greater satisfaction living in my discomfort zone than I do in a comfortable zone. Because when I am facing my fears and walking hand in hand with God, I feel alive and purposeful. I feel like I am living my purpose on earth. To be my BEST and to GROW by being challenged. So goes another day in paradise. Bring on another day to be tested, to build character and to be given greater responsibilities from my Creator. Thank you Jesus for walking with me. Thank you Jesus, you set me free from anxiety.
Anxiety is only sin if you dwell on it and act on it in fear. I know anxiety is a temptation for me and I am determined to battle this one everyday of my life:) It’s like a spiritual workout everyday to stay fit and focused. Here are favourite verses of mine:
Philippians 4:6-8 Do no be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
1:Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
Good morning God! Bring it on world, I am ready to fight back evil with the truth!