Tag Archives: anxiety

Better than I Used to be

After taking off a few months from writing, it is a little overwhelming to try to start again. So much has happened that it makes it difficult to know where to start.

For those of you who don’t know, I took off the last few months to concentrate on studying for the CAPM exam. The CAPM is a “junior” certificate in project management. I decided to do this after an “ah-ha!” moment about 18 months ago and several failed attempts at getting a job in project management without obtaining a certificate in that area of expertise. I’m glad to say that I passed with a lot of effort and even more grace.

I’ll be honest, after applying for over 30 jobs in a little over a year, it got pretty embarrassing to receive job offers of less than 80% of my current salary. Each time I was turned down or offered one thing when I felt I deserved another, it felt like I another needle pierced through my pride bubble. Needless to say, it was painful. For those of you without jobs, I understand that I am blessed to have one, especially in the Bay Area and the state of the national economy, however, nevertheless it was heartbreaking every time. I felt cheated out of my destiny, out my dream job, my dream life.

Finally a manager offered to give me feedback on an interview I had done. I gladly accepted the offer to receive feedback from a manager who had hired and fired many staff. One thing she repeatedly suggested was investing in my own growth. Finally I realized that I had been prideful, I had felt entitled to succeed in the workforce simply by excelling in the one job I have had for the last 10 years. It was at that time I realized I was nothing special in the eyes of my interviewers. There is too much competition in an area of the nation where there are several major universities and organizations that invest in the development of leaders.

With this new-to-me information, I set forth praying and researching. What could I do to prove to the workforce that I am skilled in managing projects, leading, communicating, and coordinating activities and resources. My initial thought was to go back to school, however I just paid off my student debt and colleagues advised against it. Eventually I ran across the Project Management Institute website. I found all the resources and information I needed there, and bought some courses through Groupon believe it or not. I studied and studied and almost gave up, when I realized I needed to keep praying. Alas, it was the week of my test, and I met with a former student volunteer who will soon be starting medical school. I told her about my aspirations, and she gave me some invaluable advice, don’t study the day before or the day of your test. You won’t learn any more than you already know by then. That advice stuck with me, and I took the day off before my test to rest and relax. I ate healthy food, spent quiet time with God, treated myself to a massage and pedicure, took a tour of the testing facility, and prayed a lot. The day of my test, I awoke ready to conquer the world. I pulled on a shirt a friend gave me the day before. On the front was the word “Brave.” I used my time wisely on the test, and as I hit the “complete” button, I reminded myself that I had done everything I could and the results were up to God.

As I read the screen that popped up next, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I passed! I can’t forget the feeling I had. It was similar to the feeling I had going into the test, an overwhelming sense of peace.

I know what you are thinking. No, I haven’t forgotten that this is supposed to be a faith blog, but the above story is all a part of my testimony. You see, all throughout college I suffered pretty severe panic attacks. I remember one in particular happened the day of a test or a presentation. I went to the student health clinic thinking I was having a heart attack when, in fact, it was a panic attack triggered by the pressure I put on myself to perform without error. I have struggled with being a perfectionist my whole life, but God is freeing me from it.

Anyone that tells you God frees you from experiencing panic attacks the moment you become Christian, is either lying or has experienced a miracle. I can say, that since becoming a Christian trusting in God has helped me to experience joy which helps calm panic and anxiety, but no, anxiety hasn’t completely gone away. Over the years, I have learned ways of coping with it. I have come to know myself better which has helped. I realize that I need daily time to myself and time with God in order to enjoy social time. And I now recognize that social time, fellowship time helps too. It helps put things in perspective when I hear other people’s stories and when I tell my own.

Earning my CAPM is not the end of the road for me. I’m a lifelong learner, and I plan to get my PMP and other certifications in the near future. Above those goals though, is my ultimate God-given purpose to love God, love my neighbor, and to share the Gospel and all that goes with that. So no matter if I hold this same position another decade or get promoted to project manager, I know that I am fulfilling God’s purpose for my life every time I love Him, love my neighbor and share the Gospel. I also know, that with every day I read His word, live it out, and draw closer to Him, I will become freer and freer from anxiety and panic. He promises it over and over that someday all who believe will be free from what we suffer…someday.

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Uncertainty and a Call for Action

Some people thrive on uncertainty. People like me, planners, call those people daredevils. What do you mean unplanned events, pending results, or even undecided outfits don’t keep you up at night?

Oh, how it seems life would be so leisurely if only I would be more comfortable with uncertainty, but I am my mother’s (and father’s) daughter and therefore I am destined to be tortured by the pending, the “to be continued”, and the dreaded “what ifs”. But do I really have to accept that I will forever obsess over the uncertain? Or is it my “hidden” distrust in God, my worry that keeps my mind reeling with the risk of what’s around the corner?

This morning, on my way to work, I listened to a worship song playlist on my smart phone. The song “Oceans” by Hillsong came on as I prayed silently to God. It’s amazing how many ways this song has spoken into different situations in my life. As I was driving along, the lyric “my soul will rest in your embrace” drew tears to my eyes. It was in that moment I realized it’s not that God isn’t embracing me. It’s that I’m not resting in his embrace. All this fretting, it’s not allowing him to embrace me. I’m just shrugging him off by trying to carry a burden I’m not meant to carry.

As I sang along with the rest of the song, God revealed to me exactly what he wanted me to do about the uncertain situation for which I was obsessing. It’s as if he said, “You think because you care, but what is care without action?” Thinking is not enough, caring is not enough. When God calls you into action and you respond, that’s when your soul can rest in his embrace. It can rest because God stirred it up for action, not for obessing over what might be, not for worrying.

Resting and Being Yourself

Ever been offered an opportunity to do something you love, but your plate is already close to full? It’s hard to turn down that opportunity. It’s also hard to say no to something that needs to be done when you know no one else will do it. Life is full of things that need to be done, that are actually, in reality, optional. Examine what’s on your plate, and you will likely find things that could fall off without anyone noticing.

This past week I was asked to be on several different “teams.” All of the teams sounded great, fun, amazing. I was asked if I wanted to communicate. I love talking, writing, and sharing information. Yes! That’s for me! The kid’s team asked me to help out in the classroom. I worked with kids for six years at my old church, and it was fun. That would be an easy one for me. Maybe I should do that. The third team that approached me was the outreach team. I have been wanting to be a part of an outreach team for years, and as the team leader described the areas she envisioned us focusing on, I wanted to volunteer for them all. After receiving these three offers, I was so excited, but then reality sunk in. My past complaints about serving so much in church, included not having as much time to volunteer with other favorite non-profits, not enough time to enjoy the hobbies that help me reenergize, resenting my volunteer duties, etc. Do I really want to put myself back into that situation?

I’d like to say that when those thoughts arose, I went straight to God in prayer, but alas, I didn’t go to Him right away. Instead I went to my mom, my friends, and my sleep. You see, when I’m stressed I have nightmares, and I did. I had nightmares about losing control, feeling overworked and burdened by responsibility. Why didn’t I just go to God? You’d think I would have learned by now.

The next day, after tossing and turning all night, I did get up and pray about it. I was reminded that my blog really is my outlet for “communication” and writing. While I would enjoy time with the kiddos, maybe now is not the season to volunteer in children’s ministry. Outreach is really where I’m most passionate in this season of my life, and where I have been most passionate most of my life. I love helping people, meeting needs, and improving my community. I felt God nudge me in this direction, but I still felt so bad saying no to the Communication team and the Kid’s team. Then in a last-ditch effort God provided, not one, but a whole week’s worth of devotions on resting. Day after day I read messages that reminded me to rest my body and my mind for, not only, my physical and mental health but my spiritual health. It took me back to times when I was riddled with anxiety and stress, not that taking part in the communication and kids teams would do that, but I know myself and once I start taking on responsibility, I don’t slow down.

As a result of God’s undeniable answer to my prayer, I did contact the two team leaders for the teams I had to decline. I sent thoughtful responses and expected them to beg for my assistance despite my turning them down, but instead I was met with encouragement and understanding. Perhaps I reminded them they needed to rest too.

I believe that, as a Christian, when I truly rest, I experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent him to be our counselor, and what a gentle and kind counselor he is. He makes my spirit feel like it is lying down in a green pasture beside still waters, full of peace. It is in this time that I feel truly myself, the way God created me, a creative, kind, compassionate, quirky, funny woman. I feel free to create art, write letters, chat with friends, laugh at a favorite movie, talk to God out-loud, and totally recharge. It is in this Holy Spirit time that I “fill my tank” as my dear friend Scott would say.

When your soul is resting, your emotions are okay, your mind is okay, and your will is at peace with God, not resisting what He’s doing.    – Joyce Meyer

Please share your thoughts, like this post on social media, or follow this blog if you haven’t already. I’d love to hear from you.

It Wouldn’t be Called a Hunt…

Ever since I woke up in the wee hours of the night with complete peace about my next career venture, it’s been nothing but putting my nose to the grindstone. I have applied for nearly 15 jobs, most of which are closer to the school I want to attend so I can earn my degree in the most minimal time period. I tell you, sometimes I wish I hadn’t woken up that night. I think I would call the state I’m in “self-destruction for a cause.” I have woken up early almost every morning to work at least half an hour on future goals, and then when I return home from the job that is supposed to support those goals, I work on them some more, making very little headway.

I guess if getting on the right path were easy people wouldn’t talk about “hunting” for a job or “searching” for direction, etc. If it were easy then everyone would constantly be moving up the ladder. If it were easy it might mean that God doesn’t see me as resilient, a fighter, someone who can meet a challenge head-on. If meeting a goal were simple, there would be no need for a goal.

The one thing I have learned in the last two weeks of being absolutely stressed and spiritually miserable is that I can’t do this alone. I can’t! If I try to achieve my wildest God-given dreams on my own, I am, first of all, going to fail, and secondly, declining the assistance of the very giver, the very author of these dreams. This evening I took a walk down to a local church, something I like doing. The whole way there I prayed out loud, in a whisper, but still out loud. When I arrived there I photographed the outside of the church. Then I walked down to the corner and crossed the street. When I got to the gate where I hoped I could take a shortcut through the college campus, it was locked. I turned back around to head back in the same direction I came only to find that the church I had photographed was now open. I looked at the open door and passed by without stopping, but something in me told me to stop. You see, I had never been in this church or even heard of the denomination, but God wanted me to be in His house in my discouraged and worn out state.

Inside I met two gentleman preparing to have Bible Study. I explained that I have a hobby of photographing churches and asked if I could take a few photos before they started. As I took photos we chatted, and I left encouraged. Yes, God has given me a direction for my future, but He didn’t give me a ticking time bomb to fret over every waking (and sleeping) hour. I am meant to enjoy and connect with others, even when I am chasing after my dream.

Thank God that He is so gracious to wrap me in the arms of his creation and the warmth of my fellow believers to give me the comfort I need for the journey.

When Mercies are Blessings Trust and Obey

Laura Story sings the song “Blessings”, which poses the question, what if the trials of this life are God’s mercies and blessings in disguise? I often challenge myself to ponder this very question when things don’t go my way. I’ve seen it time and time again that an inconvenience turns out to be God’s mercies at work.

For instance, this week my computer came down with a virus, and 40 malwares later I was pacing, scratching my head, panicking about what to do to fix it. After all, I don’t have the money for a new computer! Later that night, after panicking for hours, I realized I could just take the computer to my friend who works in IT. The next day I trotted down to his shop, and he fixed it at a fraction of the cost of what most places would charge. I felt a weight was taken off my back, but little did I know that the weight I was carrying was not nearly the weight I would have been carrying a week later. When I retrieved my computer from the friendly and intelligent hands that repaired it, I heard from him that the computer would have “stopped working” within a week. For some reason the drive I was saving to was only one sixth of the space on the computer, but the computer would have thought it was full and stopped working without notice. Wow, my prayer the night before and the morning I took my computer in had worked. I had told God that if my blog was something that served him, and he wanted me to continue, He would make a way for it to be repaired within my budget. Not only had he done that, but he had spared me the even bigger headache of my computer completely breaking down.

Yesterday I was on my way to a town about 25 miles away to meet an old friend. Stuck in traffic I decided to stop at the fabric store on the way. I pulled over to text my friend, “Are you still going tonight?” When she replied I was relieved because she said she had forgotten and was already at the Raiders game. With a deep sigh of relief I continued to the fabric store. I pulled into the parking lot and texted her back, “I’m kind of relieved. The traffic is horrible and it’s pouring down rain.” As I looked up from the text the rain had stopped. If it hadn’t slowed me down I would have just driven all the way there only to find out that my friend had forgotten. Instead I was spared the drive and the frustration of a last minute cancellation, and I was able to get the fabric I needed to finish Mark’s Christmas present.

It all reminds me of a sermon I was listening to by Pastor Tom when he spoke at my church a few weeks back. The title, Trust and Obey. There is no obedience without trust, and disobedience is trying to do things by our own will. When I panic and try to fix the computer on my own, I am not trusting God to do His work. I am only making the problem worse, plus I am telling God that I don’t need Him when I’m in trouble. When I push to go faster in slow traffic in the rain because I have my own agenda, I am telling God that His plan isn’t good enough. Try to listen for that still small voice. The more you get to know him, the louder His voice will get, and soon you will find yourself having morning coffee with Jesus right across from you.

Find What Frees You

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn't we be slurping up the Spirit?

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn’t we be slurping up the Spirit instead of chomping on worry?

In our everyday lives we experience ups and downs, but as we experience them we often don’t consider their root cause. I have recently reached a three-year goal of becoming debt-free, and now I am embarking on a new challenge of tackling a life long struggle with stress-management. Since my financial plan worked so well, I am going to use the same ideas from that curriculum to develop my own stress-free plan.

The first step in my financial plan was taking an inventory of my spending for one or two months to find out where my money was going. In the same way, I will take an inventory of my energy. Where am I spending my energy? To do this I have begun using green and pink index cards. I record particularly relaxing moments on the green index cards and particularly stressful moments on my pink cards. At the end of this first inventory period I should have encountered many of each experience. I will collect the pink cards and match them up with scriptures that bring truth, clarity, and perspective to that stressful moment. With these recorded in such a practical manner I will be able to refer to them as they come up again during daily life. Will I encounter new stressors in my life?  Of course I will, but God’s Word can be applied to any life circumstance.

I hope that this technique will inspire me to seek God’s truth in times of tension, and to live a life of complete spiritual freedom. I will keep you informed of my progress and any tweaks I apply to my technique.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:22-32

In all circumstances I will not be afraid, I will not worry, but seek His kingdom, and all these things will be added to me. Join me on my journey to becoming stress-free.

“More Heart, Less Attack”
Needtobreathe

Be the light in the crack
Be the one that’s been there on a camel’s back
Slow to anger quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attackBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attackThe more you take the less you have
Cuz it’s you in the mirror staring back
Quick to let go slow to react
Be more heart and less attackEver growing steadfast
And if need be the one that’s in the gap
Be the never turning back
Twice the heart any man could haveBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attackI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m nearly sanctified I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river I’m near the openI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m near the sanctified I’m near broken
I’m down the river I’m near the open

I’m down the river to where I’m going