I was planning on doing a different post (something about the amazingness that was my binge-marathoning Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt this weekend) but then something else came up.
By about noon today, I knew this was going to be a bad anxiety day. I just couldn’t get this bad feeling to shake away. I was having cold chills/sweats (something I always have when I’m feeling anxious) and I just felt clammy and shaky and uncomfortable and just plain off. I’m overthinking and worrying about next semester and beyond, something triggered by a discussion with someone about getting just an English degree instead of an Education degree (and not having plans for after graduation, and getting a “useless degree.” ugh, people. I hate people sometimes). Even though I know not to think too much into his words, they’ve been at the back of my mind all week, bothering me way much more than I should let them. Ugh.
Sometimes, I can tell when I’m going to have one of these days, which is nice because I can pull out my tools to combat it before it spirals into an attack. I have a handful of things I typically do, such as watch something funny (ahem Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!) or write (ahem this post) or read or listen to music (hallelujah for Christmas music season!). Somethings I do are impossible right now, like walking (raining+midnight+not safe in my neighborhood, sadly), so I do other things to calm my brain. Sometimes I can work myself off the ledge, sometimes I go into attack-mode anyway (and that’s just lovely). These things worked somewhat for the most part, except for the fact that it’s almost 2am and I’m still awake. Yeah. So they didn’t work much tonight. sigh.
Another thing I’ve started doing more recently is read scripture. This is something, for a believer at least, that would feel like a no-brainer; alas, when I first started dealing with anxiety, it was really hard to find solace in scripture. Mainly because I felt like it was not helpful; sure, it might help me find comfort or peace, but it wasn’t helping my situation any. It isn’t as much of a distraction like other things I do to help me are (it requires a lot more brain power for me to read and understand scripture). Also, laughing and writing and walking are physical/tangible things I can do that give me a literal calmness as well as a mental one; scripture could help my soul, sure, but not so much my overwired, overthinking brain (on top of the physical symptoms). Laughing forces me to physically feel better, and distract my brain from the ugly; walking requires me to breathe in, breathe out, and focus on every step, instead of overwhelm myself with my thoughts. By writing down/journaling about what I am anxious about and what I am feeling, it releases the anxieties onto paper, and helps me to visualize the problem; it also lets me focus on details like grammar and punctuation, freeing my brain from thinking about what’s giving me anxiety.
Scripture felt like another to-do list thing, instead of something I could use in this battle against my brain. While I feel like in a lot of ways this struggle has strengthened my faith, scripture was an area that was not one I could turn to for help much.
Until I started reading the Psalms. Goodness, King David and I have a lot more in common than I realized.
Take one look at the psalms of David: you see psalms of highs and lows, praises from the mountaintop and screams from the valley. He’s a walking talking roller coaster of emotional struggle, this David. Quite like me.
I resonate so much with his struggle of needing rescue, of leaning on the Rock that is higher to get through the day, of waning to praise but struggling to get to that place of worship when in the depths. I struggle with wanting and needing some solace, some peace and help. David shows me that it’s OK to cry out to God for help, to praise Him in the midst of the struggle, to be angry when God doesn’t answer…
He basically teaches me that it’s OK to be an emotional hot mess.
I’ve always tried so hard to fit my emotions into a box, to not open up to God about my struggles (because why would he care?). but David. oh, David. He is so much more honest than I feel like I can be. He knows that God can take our emotions (he made ’em after all) and bottle our tears. He hears, He knows. He listens. David knew this. So he screamed and fussed, he cried and tore his clothes in desperation. He praised and worshiped in spite of his emotions, too. I’m still learning that one.
Tonight I was led to Psalm 18 by happenstance (aka twitter, God speaks through social media a lot). Particularly verse 28:
You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
I really love The Voice Translation of this one:
He doesn’t just offer me a lamp, a light in the midst of my darkness: he IS the lamp. He IS the light. He lights up my darkness. Not just the darkness of the world, but MY darkness- the darkness that I battle every day. He provides light to my way and my path, even if I can’t see where it’s going yet. He does. I have to believe that, otherwise I’d spiral into anxiety of the unknowns. I have to believe that He knows what I’m doing and where I’m going, cause I sure as hell don’t. If I didn’t think or know that He holds what’s next in his hands, I’d probably go a bit crazier than I do now about the future. As much as I want to know, I’ll trust that He’ll continue to light my way as life unfolds. And He’ll continue to shine Himself into the midst of my darkness. Because sometimes life is just too dark for me on my own; that’s when I realize how much I need a savior to continue to light the path for me.
I think it’s kinda perfect that tomorrow is the beginning of Advent, one of my favorite times in the church. Tomorrow starts the season of anxiously anticipating the birth of Jesus, and preparing our hearts for the Savior’s birth.
It’s the season where we welcome Light into the dark world. Where the weary world, full of dark and sin and mess, begins to prepare for light to enter back into the world in the form of Jesus. He was the light of the world then, and He’s the light to the world- and to my darkness- now. Hallelujah for that.
Scripture bring a lot more solace these days than it used to be. It’s more helpful in this fight than I realized. It provides truth when anxiety and fear keep pouring lies into my brain. Funny how God uses words and His stories to reach me where other things can’t.