Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ashamed No More

If you have ever experienced anxiety you will understand what I am talking about, if you haven’t, you’ll think I am crazy. I have dealt with anxiety for relatively most of my life. Even as a young child I had irrational worries that would control me. Then, I didn’t have a name for it, I just knew I was different. Thankfully, we live in a generation where anxiety and depression is talked about and treated, yet sadly, many still attach a stigma to someone who deals with these issues. We know now, and science has proved, that it’s not just all in your head. It isn’t just something you can snap out of, because it has to do with a depletion of chemicals in your brain. Just as when you eat chocolate or drink alcohol, you relax, that is a chemical reaction in your brain.

For me, anxiety feels like a cement wall that I can’t climb, dig under, or go around. It comes unexpectedly, unreasonably, and often suddenly, though sometimes it is gradual over several days before it becomes acute. It takes the color and purpose out of life. Even on a sunny day, everything feels gloomy. Along with the mental effects, the physical body is affected too. I have a rapid heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing, I often become nauseated and/or have stomach pain and diarrhea. I become very thirsty, lose my appetite, and feel like I am shaking though am usually not visibly. I can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, and can’t stop my mind from racing. It is such a frustrating feeling to know in your heart that nothing is worth get so worked up over, but not being able to stop your mind and body from reacting. It truly is out of your own grasp to control.

For many years I have been on and off anti-depressants. All the time I have been ashamed and embarrassed that I need them to function normally. I have felt weak and worthless. I have felt like if I was a better Christian, I would be able to handle this. If I just prayed more, read my bible more, etc. I have tried alternative medicines such as herbs and supplements, tried to balance my horomones, all with temporary results, eventually I have to go back to the prescriptions, and feel like a failure once again for having to be on them.

God has been talking to me about this, and what He has said has been a salve to my hurting heart. He reminds me that it is in my weakness that his strength is visible (2 Cor 12:10). My stubbornness while trying to do it on my own and ‘handle it’ is pride. I have to look at the blessing that I have to be living in a generation where there is medicine available. How silly of me to think that He would make this available to me and then slap my hand for accepting it. That’s not how God operates.

God does not wait for us to clean up our act before accepting us. It is His job to make us holy, not our own. Only He is able. Only he is able to calm the storm in my mind, and if he uses medicine to do that, why be ashamed? I am convinced that Satan uses shame to keep us quiet. It’s in the quietness of our struggles that we experience loneliness. If no one knows, no one can help. If we don’t tell, no one knows they aren’t alone. So, here I am, telling. I hope someone understands and finds comfort in the fact that I know and understand.

Never say Never

Before I had kids I said never a lot. My kid would never__________ (insert action). Even in the early days of parenting I would look at other parents and criticize their lack of parenting skills. The more my kids I have added to our family and the more they grow, the more I realize it is not my job to control my kids. It is my job to train them. But, even good training has to be implemented by the person being trained. There are very few things we actually have control over with our kids. No more can we control the genes that they are made up of or their eye color than can we control their personalities. Anyone with a child has surely learned quickly that you can’t control when your child eats, sleeps, and potties. That’s just the beginning of it.

I believe that parenting is God’s way of making us grow up. We learn to think selflessly. We also learn that never is a bad word. I can’t tell you how many times I have been humbled by something I swore I would never let happen in my house and under my supervision. I wish I could tell all those other moms that I have judged I am sorry. For I know the feeling of the stares by moms who don’t approve of my parenting. I hear the whispers of appall. I know what they feel and sound like only because they have come out of me in the past.

Just as we can’t control our children, we also can’t control our circumstances. No one can plan for what life will throw at us. Honestly, some days we just try to survive and keep our heads above water. Situations that leave us feeling overwhelmed, lend for plenty of opportunities to mess up. So give your fellow moms a break.

Jesus told us to “take the plank out of our own eye before trying to remove a speck of sawdust from your brother’s (or sister’s) eye” (Matthew 7:5). Only when I have my house in order and all my “ducks” in a row, do I have the freedom to criticize another mother. And since that never happens, you get the idea. So, if I have stared at you with disapproval, I am truly sorry. I have no idea how I would react in your situation until I am placed there. And next time you are tempted to criticize me, reconsider please.

When I am tempted to think that I can take credit for all the good things my kids do, I remember that if I do, I also have to credit for all the bad they do. If God, who is the THE perfect parent, has kids who misbehave and mess up, then how much more can I expect my kids to?!