Sunday, October 09, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Tea - What I do when I start feeling anxiety

I am usually a fairly calm person but there are a few things that bring on anxiety, even temporarily.  Probably the same we all react to such as hearing sirens when a loved one is expected home at anytime.  I didn't get angry with my son very much as a teenager but I do recall the time he was a new driver and called to tell me he was leaving home from a friend's house in town.  

Imagine my feelings when I heard one siren after another go down the country road toward town and he hadn't shown up, yet.  My concern turned to panic.  It turned out he had stood in the yard of his friend's house and talked another half an hour before leaving.  Without updating me on his arrival time.  I was not happy.

However, that kind of anxiety is common.  Especially to parents of new drivers.  But the anxiety that can hit all of us today goes much deeper as we see the world changing drastically.  If we are not careful, we can drink deeply of the "what if's" until we can't sleep at night.

One thing I have going for me is having gone through severe trials in the past.  The "having to remind myself to breath" kind of trials.  While they were difficult to go through and at times I wondered where God was in all of it, I now know He was strengthening my faith muscles for what was coming.

Actually, I knew that was what He was speaking to me through His Word at the time but it didn't help wishing I was not going through those trials.  When I first started blogging and shared more of those years, I had people write to tell me they wish they had my level of faith.  I would reply that I am not sure I would wish the trials on anyone that formed that faith.

Having gone through that time, I do find it much easier to trust God because He has proven Himself over and over when all I had was Him to cling to.  But I still sometimes feel anxious when I look at what is happening locally and worldwide.  Like Lot, I am vexed in my soul.  God reminds me of Lot quite often and how he felt in Sodom.

Lot is an interesting character.  Isn't it amazing how God uses quite unlikable people in Scripture to give us lessons in faith?  Lot sat "in the gates" of the city of Sodom.  Most Bible teachers will tell you that meant he had a position of importance in Sodom because the walls surrounding a city were not only tall, they were wide enough that they had rooms.  The rooms at the gates could be similar to City Hall today.

I heard one Bible teacher who believed that meant Lot had one foot in Sodom and one foot outside of Sodom.  I think the original teaching is more Biblical but that does not mean that teacher is incorrect.  If indeed Lot was vexed in His soul, he was of two different worlds and while he had chosen Sodom, he had Abraham's teaching of the one true God in his soul.

We could judge Lot at staying in Sodom when we knew he had the financial means to move on elsewhere.  But then again, how many times do people feel God is telling them to move and they do not want to.  They are perfectly happy where they are.  Until like me, He has a way of turning your world upside down and giving you a less than gentle nudge toward where He wants you to go.

Kind of like when I need to change outdoor kitty's towel on her kitty bed and she is sitting on it, refusing to leave.  I eventually have to pick up the pet bed and force her off the bench the pet bed sits on to put her clean towel on her bed.  It is a constant source of amusement to both me and my husband at how much we see our human traits in the kitties we have known and loved through the years.  

God has sent me moving before kicking and screaming, stomping my feet, and practically holding my breath until He changed His mind.  Which he didn't.  All of those years have come together now to teach me how to live in these uncertain times.  I think He smiles when I thank Him now for those lessons.

There are a few practices I learned to do during those years.  The most important was to look toward God and not at my circumstances.  That, my friends, is much easier said than done.  I have written before about the very difficult year when we lived next to a pond and I would sit on the cement stairs of the house reading the Psalms and looking at the pond.  I don't think that year I ever left the Psalms for long except for going through a Bible study book.

The next most important step that has always worked is to do that which is possible at the moment.  I remember during that year by the pond, my husband asked me one day why I was watching a cooking show when we didn't have much money for food.  I told him the cooking shows often teach me new techniques as well as recipes to use during that time of lack.

If we sit still doing nothing at all, anxiety cannot help but overflow our mind.  The vacuum in our thoughts that doing nothing brings about is an open door to the enemy and his minions.  He not only does not play fair, he is the author of lies and loves to whisper lies in our thinking.  Now, he can't tell what we are thinking like God can... but he can place thoughts we should not let take root.

During the times of trial, I learned that if my thoughts are going against what the Word says... like worrying that God will supply all my needs, which were many... then they were not from God.  One of my favorite verses to repeat back then was, "God has not given me the spirit of fear but power, love, and a sound mind". (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)

Did you ever think of the fact that fear is a spiritual force?  I don't remember exactly what preacher or Bible teacher taught that at the time it sunk into my spirit but it was a life changing Truth.  I would remind myself that the fear I was feeling did not come from God so why hold onto it?

Another way I combat anxiety is to do the opposite of what the devil would have me do.  I have written before about how much that Truth helped through the years.  I don't remember who preached it originally but I am thankful they did.  To be honest, buying the furnace recently was one of those times.  On one hand, I was reluctant to use all of our savings for a furnace but I also knew the timing was God ordained.

My faith cannot be in the saving account, it has to be in God's ability to provide.  I do the same thing with putting back a few things here and there for the time which may be coming when food either becomes more expensive than it is now (which is already alarming) or worse yet, in even shorter supply than it is now.

If you feel the nudge of God to deepen your pantry a lot and He has provided the funding and the space to do it, then definitely continue on that level.  You will not only provide for yourself and your family but possibly for others.  Just make certain if you are preparing on that level, not to let it get around to those who would try to take it for their own.  Of course, as with all things pray God's protection over it and He will keep it safe for you to use when needed.

Even the little at a time "putting back" that I do helps to alleviate anxiety.  Doing something is far better than doing nothing because you cannot do as much as you like.  One of the things doing a little at a time helps is it strengthens our preparing muscles.  We have to think through what we need and our priorities and if we know that already, when God provides an unexpected source of money for us to use on "putting back", we know exactly what the priorities should be.

Similar to when I watched cooking shows during a year with little income, these days I often pull favorite cookbooks off the shelf and peruse them for good ideas.  I have a lot of recipes in my card file that I use but when I can find something new to make with ingredients that are inexpensive, it is like finding hidden treasure.

Once again, it is a simple action we can take when we are tempted to sit and worry.  Remember what happened to Elijah when he sat in a cave and stewed in his misery that he alone was the only true believer left in the land?  He had just come through a great victory but he wanted to die and an angel came to give him food (most likely an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ).  Which proves my feeling that a good snack can do wonders to a person's outlook on life.

By the way, if you are feeling down then read I Kings 19 all the way through.  But read it from God's perspective.  It amuses me to think as if God was looking at Elijah's talk and actions in human terms.  Fortunately, He is God and has infinite patience.  The chapter reminds me that even the prophets of old acted like I am tempted to do once in awhile.

There are other things I learned through the decades that are obvious like reading really good books and watching good TV shows or movies. There is nothing wrong with good quality escapism as long as we are making God's Word a priority, for it is nutrition for the soul. Other media is dessert.

We found this to be especially true when our kids were young. When you read and watch media with your children as they are growing up, it provides a common language and memories that you find yourself bringing up when they are married and have kids of their own.  Which are all helpful deterrents of anxiety.

For me, having decades of studying Bible prophecy has helped but I know that is not something all Christians prefer.  I have heard almost every opinion on prophecy and can even argue with myself over some issues.  I honestly believe God keeps some Truths about Bible prophecy fuzzy for the same reason He kept Truths of His first Advent fuzzy.  It all came together clearly in the rear view mirror of time.

However, there is enough in the Word that is very clear that hearing good Bible prophecy teachers talk about today's headlines brings great peace to my soul.  They provide a "You Are (Probably) Here" map of the End Times.  Understanding that we all look through a glass that is not completely clear.

I know that behind the scenes of chaos, our God has everything in control. Much like those years of severe trials when my life looked out of control but God was working in it all the time, He is doing the same on a world wide level today. 

He promised never to leave you or forsake you and that is true even in these days of uncertainty.  You are still in the Kingdom for such a time as this.

Image:  Ducks Unlimited, As Good as Home


Vee said...

One of our mutual favorite vloggers often reminds her viewers to "stay very busy." This has been a help to me when I begin to sink. And going straight to The Lord right in the middle of whatever it is cannot be improved upon. I like your response to your husband about watching cooking shows. So true...a good method can improve flavors even for humble dishes and there are many tips for flavorful cooking. I'm thinking bacon grease...Ha! Have a good week, Brenda.

Ann Stevens said...

Love the context and content about a good snack doing wonders for the soul. You are the only one I know who would have thought that in the context of the Bible story. Gave me a chuckle and we all need chuckles now days.

I, too, look back on the difficult times -- and there were many of them and I'm sure many more to come -- but the one thing I can see now (but not then) is that God's hand was always there and no matter how frightened and worried I was, He came through. My son used to tell me that "God is a God of the last minute" and I know what he meant. Never early but always on time.

Lee Ann said...

Can you share that blog?

Anonymous said...

I think she’s referring to Appalachia’s Homestead with Patera.

NanaC said...

This was so good! Lots of encouragement and food for though for me. I value your perspective on the current state of affairs we are in. As we continue to see rises in food and gas prices, I often wonder how bad it’s going to get! I’m trying to be practical in deepening my pantry and not “panic buying”. I liked what you mentioned in an earlier post about praying before you go shopping! I’m going to try to remember to do that every time I go to the grocery store! Thank-you for sharing your experiences and your wisdom! It is all much appreciated!
Laura C.