It's even a little scarier than that... He's a designer doing odd jobs so he's technically considered "self-employed". Do you know how much the government taxes the self-employed? No really, thatwasn'trhetorical...how much? We find out next week when we visit an accountant how this will effecthis unemploymentand how much we're going to owe.We live in a lovely area. However, 70% of the people travel outside of our little town for employment. Colleges continue to pump out graphic design artists in an already over saturated market and in rural areas it can be hard to make a living making pretty things like websites, logos, and media at a price that can feed your family and the mortgage bill.
Our house needs a new roof, our walls need skim coating and my ugly sofa is still ugly. Also our back yard looks like a gravel pit. Because it is. (Thank you, I know that wasn't a complete sentence)
I used to have anxiety attacks. In the moment of crisis I was always cool. I didn't know how calm I appeared until I started talking about my adolescent and early college years with people who knew me. I didn't think anything of the surprised looks and, "I never would have known or thought you were suffering" comments until about the 10th time I heard it and continued to hear it repeated. My anxiety attacks always seemed to come out of no where when there was no immediate crisis. Everything was ok and then BAM I would be on the floor unable to breath. Work, airport, home, at lunch. Before Matt and I were married I went two years without one. And then I went another two years until two weeks ago when I started to feel that all too familiar feeling of racing heart, spinning head and tightening chest. I realized it the quickest I ever have and practiced breathing exercises while repeating scripture to myself. Finally, around day number 4 post attack I was no longer feeling a physical reaction at every small issue.
I say this not to expose scars for viewing but to express the hope I have. I still experience anxiety quite a bit but not like I did...
Anxiety doesn't quite say it right. What does it even mean to be anxious? There are so many words that come to mind. I prefer words like fearful. Worried. Restless.
We know exactly what those words mean, don't we? Maybe this is just me but I feel less responsible when I say I'm anxious. In my version of the Bible the word Anxiety isn't used often when talking of sin. But fear and worry? Yes, those are. Jesus talks much about fear and worry. When I say I'm anxious I might ask myself "what am I anxious about?" But when I say I'm fearful I ask myself "what am I afraid of?" To someone who is an unbeliever reading this I might sound a little crazy. Like what's the difference? Maybe for others there isn't a difference. Maybe they don't have a word or responsibility dilemma. But I do. I want to blame the bills or other circumstances for my anxiety. But when I use words the Bible uses like fear and worry then I have to ask myself, "why am I afraid of these things that God promises to use for my good and his glory?"
That question, my friends, digs at a root that runs deep. I know that, while our experiences of fear and worry may be different and be experienced in greater or lessor degrees, we all do it. Our problem is common to man but not calling it by the ugly name it deserves will not help. Natural bend, family experience, genetic connection, or hard circumstances may give us explanations but don't give us right. It's sin and to simply call it a "problem" doesn't put it in it's rightful place.
Now I'm not naive. When Matt's job became seriously in danger he said, "it will be ok, God will take care of us." But I know in ways he doesn't that sometimes God's care doesn't look the way I want it to look. Sometimes it isn't ok... Sometimes you'd rather not do it anymore. Even so my experiences don't take precedence over the Word. My swelling fear doesn't get to determine my beliefs. Amy Baker (Author, counselor) likes to say, "You do what you do and feel what you feel because you think what you think." It is not my circumstances or experiences that define how I live, it's what I think about them.
You've hung in here thus far. Sympathetic reader trying to boost my google Ad money? Fellow sufferer looking for help or camaraderie? I do have a plan and it isn't to just sermonize or theorize on fear and worry.
It's to share with you that Jesus offers us an answer. He calls fear and worry a sin (Matthew 6) and later in the scriptures the Apostle Peter writes that we have been given everything we need to live a godly life through His divine power (2Pet 1:3). There is no sin so debilitating that Christ does not give us a way to stand up under it. Through the Holy Spirit and the word we have been given everything we need to walk the way he instructs us to walk. Some may tell stories of immediate freedom from sin and I don't disbelieve them! That is not my story though. With the strength that Christ has given me I have worked years at this. For 10 years now I have been learning and growing in what it means to love and obey in this area. And in 10 years time I am still having an occasional anxiety attack. I'm not disappointed. I am so thankful.
So what is the answer?
Just that- choosing thankfulness. In Philippians four the Apostle Paul writes, "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds." Folks, let me tell you, you don't just choose thankfulness once. You don't just choose to cast your cares once or pray and petition once. You do it over and over and over again. How many years have you been practicing fear and worry? That is a habit! We cannot expect such a well practiced habit to go away without any effort. It is a re-education and re-focus and it takes perseverance. The section of verses then goes on to say, "finally brothers, whatever is...". Instead of practicing fear and worry, practice thinking on THESE things. What will thinking on these true, lovely, admirable, and praise worthy things do to our hearts?
Dare I say... make us thankful? I also believe they will humble us. As one of our elders preached about yesterday, anxiety is pride. HE knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows all that you need. True wisdom from heaven produces peace and purity. (James 1:13-18)
If you struggle with fear and worry there are some amazing resources available to you. First I would recommend doing moment by moment what the Bible tells us to do- choose to not be anxious, cast our cares on him, with thanksgiving give him our requests, and then choose to think on what is true. This isn't a one time or week long deal. You do it until it's done. You give it until it stays. The world may offer you products or techniques that show "good results" but Jesus offers something amazing- real change from the inside out. I have been "discipled" in this area by several authors. When People are Big and God is Small, Calm my Anxious Heart, and A Woman After God's Own Heart are great places to start. I have been told Fear Factor by Wayne Mack is also very good.
I have not only been discipled by authors but by flesh and blood members of my local body. There is value in seeking out an older sister in Christ who knows the way a little more clearly than you do and knows how to wield the word like the sword it is. She can walk with you in ways that maybe your small group full of peers cannot do and will be less likely to let you complain and make excuses than a friend. There isn't just value, Jesus commands us to be disciplers. What better way to learn than to be discipled?
I'm am positive I left things out of this little article, especially since it's on such a BIG topic! What have you found helpful?