Tag Archives: anxiety

anxiety-God-emotions

Aware of emotions

One of the sessions I attended at the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s Cancer Caregivers training was called Mobilizing, Transforming and Celebrating Emotions. The presenter talked about the need to be aware of our emotions and to express them through movement, drawing, writing, etc. He talked about catharsis and coming into balance.

The presentation was followed by a small-group session where we were led through a guided reflection to help us become more aware of an emotion that was affecting us. We then expressed our awareness through a seven-minute writing exercise—a dialog with that emotion.

Anxiety was the emotion that presented itself to me both during the presentation and again during the guided reflection. The group leader suggested some questions to bring greater awareness of situations we experienced the emotion and ways it was impacting our lives.anxiety-God-emotionsMy dialog with anxiety went like this:

Me: Where do you come from? What do you want? What can I do to lessen your impact on me?

Anxiety: Lessen my impact? Who said you need to lessen my impact or that I want to move out of your life?

Me: I want you gone—or at least I want you to be less powerful and have less control in my life. I want to be at peace, not to have my stomach clench when I am asked a question or when an emotion arises. I want to be able to live in joy and not guilt, to be confident and not second-guess myself, to trust my experiences of affirmation. I want to be proud of my accomplishments and to believe in my capabilities.

I think—I believe—that I can only be free to what “new” God is doing in my life, to actually trust it and embrace it if my anxiety lessens.

Coming to this workshop, I can see how much my anxiety has lessened by what I share—and I can see how much anxiety I still have.anxiety-God-emotionsAnxiety: Perhaps that is the secret—trust and celebrate every, single time you push against me; every time you move against your resistance and fear. Take it in, Jim used to tell you. So, I say it, too. Take it in. I am part of your ancient history. You are not that little girl any more. You can protect yourself. You know what you need to be safe and free. Do that.anxiety-God-emotions

 

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God-spirituality-vulnerability

Does it bring you joy?

Does it bring you joy? Someone suggested asking this question when paring down my possessions.

After some pondering, I realized that when considering holding onto or getting rid of some possession, I am more apt to ask myself, would letting it go make me feel guilty?

I have been incredibly blessed by generous people throughout my life, and my house has lots of objects I received as gifts. I imagine if I had bought all of those things, it would be easier to let go of them, but so much of what I own has a story and a memory connected to it.

Is it possible to hold onto the memory and the story—and let go of the object?God-spirituality-joyMany years ago, I read a book about holding onto the gifts of retreat.

Retreats can be sacred moments in life, creating space to step out of daily routines, clear my mind of everyday worries, and focus on God and God’s will for me. Retreats offer the opportunity to get some distance and perspective, to look at how I am living and to consider any needed course corrections.

While on retreat, I often talk with God about what in my life needs to go—usually old fears, insecurities, anxieties and hurts.God-spirituality-joyHolding onto those insights from retreat once I am back in my daily routine can be a challenge. Daily prayer helps. Regular meetings with a spiritual director also help. This book suggested asking these questions about everyday situations:

  • Is this what I really want?
  • Will this matter tomorrow? In ten years? At the end of my life?
  • What do I think? feel? need? want?

The second set of questions has been the easiest for me to answer because I can see how insignificant many everyday occurrences really are. These questions have helped me let go of a great deal of hurt and anger. How much energy am I going to give to something that really has very little long-term significance?

The other questions, though, continue to challenge me. Like the question about what brings me joy, asking what I want or need seems somewhat foreign to me. It must be the way I was raised—spend very little time or thought on my own needs; focus more on the needs of others.  This is also the message I take from the Bible.

Of course, I know that I do have wants and needs, and over the course of my life, I have come to see how much healthier I am when I get in touch with them.

So, what is it that brings me joy? The objects in my home? Or the memories attached to them?

It is definitely the memories that remind me how blessed I have been.

Last year, I committed to writing a “love” letter every day in February—a note to someone who had blessed my life and brought me joy. I called it twenty-eight days of love. I thank I will do that again.God-spirituality-joy

 

No Anxiety

“Have no anxiety…” (Philippians 4:6)

I started a new job this week so I am in a period of transition. For me, anxiety comes with the territory, along with uncertainty and second-guessing. Did I make the right decision? How will things work out? Will I be able to…? and on and on.

One morning, in the week before I started my new job, St. Paul’s words came to me, “Have no anxiety….” I love St. Paul for his directives. I love his certainty and confidence.

Have no anxiety. Trust. Let go.

My new job is at a support and resource center for people who have been touched by cancer, so perspective on my anxiety came fairly quickly. Talking with someone who is facing cancer helped me remember what really matters and what is worth my time and energy.

When Jim was sick and someone was worried or complaining about something that seemed trivial to me, I would ask, “Is it brain cancer?”

That was my standard—brain cancer. Anything less than that seemed utterly manageable. Perhaps it was not a fair standard to apply, maybe even a bit harsh, but it was my frame of reference at the time.

Now I am surrounded by people who have been touched by cancer. Some are in treatment, some are survivors, some are walking beside family or friends who have cancer, and some are grieving.

All week, memories from my experience with Jim and his cancer have been stirred up. I remember the difficulties of that time, and I also remember how Jim and I laughed every day and were grateful every day. I have been thinking of all the people who helped us and supported us. I remember how generous people were to us. I am deeply aware of how blessed we were and I am.

It was an awful time and also a graced time, a reminder that every curse has a blessing.

Anxiety? All I needed was a different frame of reference. I needed to look through a different lens. My anxiety has been replaced by gratitude and a hope that my experience with Jim and others I have known who have been touched by cancer will help me to be compassionate to those who come to The Lake House seeking comfort and support.

I thank St. Paul for his advice: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”

Instead of anxiety, gratitude, trust and hope.