Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Anxiety, Humility, and A Whole Lotta Prayer

I'm not here to make a point today. I'm not here to respond to anyone or counter any opinions or even to attack beauty distortion. Other days, absolutely. Just not today.

Today I'm here to write. Because things have been completely overwhelming in my life. I could list everything that's been swimming around my mind; everything that's been happening to me and everything that hit me out of nowhere. But I asked myself a very important question just now: Is that really necessary? 

No. Honestly, it isn't. Writing all of that out for you to read will only do two things: one, annoy you to no end {it's not like you don't have enough stuff to worry about on your own, right?}, and two, stress me out even more than I already am. I just had a long meltdown in the shower and handed it all over to God. There's no sense in trying to explain it all or harp on it anymore.

But it sure is nice to not go at it all alone.

Among everything else I've been praying for recently, I started a new prayer. Send me support, Lord, I found myself in need, Send me friends to comfort me. Send me family to encourage me. Send me someone to hold me accountable, and send me your presence to get me through it all. 

I also really started buckling down on my daily quiet time. I know, I know, that sounds so goody-goody Christian girl. I don't mean it that way at all. If I'm being completely honest, I hadn't opened my bible since the semester started. Nor had I attended church, journaled thoroughly, or confided in anyone about how my faith or life was going. No one had asked, so I simply never answered.

Starting this past Friday, I decided to change some things around. My schedule changes each semester, and I'd already made the huge mistake of not allowing time for myself and faith in the midst of my daily routine. I began praying again. Reading again. Journaling again. And I felt comforted. Rejuvenated. Rededicated.

Until the first five seconds I left the quiet peace of my bedroom.

Retraining your mindset is no easy task. Staying comforted, rejuvenated, and rededicated to your faith and positivity is practically impossible with life slinging hurdles at you every second of the day.

Was I successful? Goodness, no. Even as I lay here writing this post, I'm in bed under a blanket with a hot cup of tea because my body feels like it's been hit by a truck. {I usually write my posts the night before they're published, for those who didn't know...} My list of things to do is still three times longer than my list of what I've already done, and I still can't shake two specific instances where I'd been treated harshly today. That's life. It doesn't leave much room for successful comfort and rejuvenation stories. But it can leave room for gracious comfort and rejuvenation stories, especially when you're not trying to accomplish them on your own.

I had asked for support. I had asked for friends, for family, for accountability partners, and for the known and felt presence of God. But I hadn't asked because it would be pretty cool to have; I asked for it because I knew I was desperate. I knew I needed it.

The first saving grace came from my family when I returned home for Labor Day weekend. I brought a laundry list of questions inspired by my latest anxiety attack and my parents sat right next to me as we checked every single one of them off the list. Were any of my deepest questions answered? Not really, but at least I'm heading in the right direction.

The next surprise came from a blogger over at Unfading Beauty Ministries. We had been liking each other's instagram photos and reading each other's blogs for a long time. Kristen was one of those people I'd never spoken to, but just knew I'd get along with if I knew her in real life. That's when her friend request came on facebook, and the awkward I-don't-know-if-it's-acceptable-to-talk-to-her-outside-of-blogland barrier was shattered. Suddenly, I had a friend in another country who was going through similar struggles messaging me, encouraging me, and including me in her own writing. What an unexpected and much needed surprise!

Two days later, it was time for small group bible study. It would've been easier not to go. Believe me, I had ten thousand other things to do. But I found myself wanting to go, and for the first time ever, I didn't feel anxious enough to stay home under the excuse that I needed to make the to-do list in my planner a little smaller. If I could sacrifice my time for anything, I should sacrifice my time for this.

It wasn't wrong to make that decision. In a room full of girls, we talked, we laughed, we prayed, and we shared stories. I hesitate to use the word fellowship because I know how churchy it sounds, but there's something to be said for it. It is definitely not credited enough. Suddenly, everything I had been stressing about seemed so much less important. At least for the moment. In complete honesty, it hasn't been diminished in importance at all, but it's been diminished in priority. We set goals for ourselves for the week, and picked accountability partners for the week.

I felt so much better. And after a phone call with one of my best friends on the drive home, my anxiety had practically vanished. I couldn't remember the last time I had truly been anxious about nothing.

It wasn't until my shower though, that I realized I had been given everything I had asked for. Support? Check. Friends? Check. Family? Accountability? Comforting presence? Check, check, check.

You don't have to tackle life all on your own. You shouldn't. You weren't meant to. Sometimes you have to humble yourself and ask for help. And that's okay. It doesn't make you weak, or needy, or incapable, or whatever else you think you are. If you need help, get help. Sometimes it comes in the presence of friends. Of family. Of mentors, accountability, or even God himself. It's amazing who and what God can use to save you from anxiety and pain if you'll simply give Him the opportunity to do so.

I'm the absolute worst at handing Him those reins. But it never fails... Once I do, the carriage rides much smoother. So if you take anything from this otherwise extremely personal blog post, let it be this:

Everything that's on that list of yours? You don't have to do it all in one day. In a week. In a month. In a year. You don't have to get your life together in the same way, or at the same time as someone else. You don't even have to worry yourself about it to the point of exhaustion {but you're probably doing that anyway}. The best part is, whenever, wherever, or however you decide to start tackling your list, you don't have to do it alone. You never have, and you never will.

A little support and a lot of a faith can go an awfully long way.

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