Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Take Five by Susan L.

  On my way to pick up a friend who is part of my small group, I had to pull over for a few minutes to fill out one of my anxiety worksheets. After leaving the centre at four, the tension had begun to build the closer it got to our weekly time for group.
  I was early enough picking up my travel companion that there was an opportunity to pull over, take five and examine what was going on.
  It was mostly being terrified of a smack down because of having shared my struggles the week before. Historically this has happened on a regular basis. Pastors, doctors, nurses, councillors, a spouse, and other people in my life who breached trust and abused their authority by demeaning and negating my valid needs. They left a wake of damage and only reinforced the lesson that it isn't okay to reach out.
  Lord, I need to do a lot of forgiving. Forgive me because I don't think I can right now. You see, even though I underlined the idea of my needs being valid, it's something that's hard for me to believe.
  So why do I think having needs is such a bad, weak, undesirable thing?
  Bear with me...
  I am afraid to have needs. Understandably so. The need for help either physically or emotionally led to being bullied, abused, isolated, disregarded and demeaned.
  I am afraid to ask for help. Again, understandably so. The same reasons apply.
  I am afraid of having to pay a price for needing help...

  This is tough.
  Lord, You know my heart, that deep inside me is the desire to forgive all those who have hurt me. Thank You that I don't hate these people, a baby step towards freedom. Please continue to help me grow and let go. Help me let go of the anger about all of this. Please, please diffuse the powerful memories that re-victimize me and cripple my ability to move forward. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
  There wasn't any fallout in group from last week's confession. Thank You, Lord for surrounding me with people worthy of trusting.
  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."" Rom 1:16-17

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Outside by Susan L.

  Southern Ontario had a record breaking warm weekend. Taking advantage of this spring like weather meant going for a walk three days in a row. My fitness level could use some work.
  Saturday I chose to stay on the road, hiking north past open fields blanketed with snow. It sparkled and shimmered beneath the brilliant sun. Rushing water carved its way across the low parts with a gurgle and a laugh. Canine footprints crisscrossed the field; maybe a fox or possibly a coyote. The prints had melted enough to make a positive ID virtually impossible. When they entered into a grassy and overgrown part of the field I thought that perhaps they could belong to a mouse hunting fox.
  It always surprises me how much life is out there even in the bitter cold. Earlier in the week I'd witnessed a mole scurrying across my back yard towards the house. It must have been a nervous time for him (or her) being that exposed to the numerous feral cats in the neighbourhood. I suppose living in and around the houses is a bit safer than the grassy fields where his more rural neighbours live. Later I put on my tracker hat to see where it had gone. Thankfully, not into the house!
  Sunday afternoon, H and I ventured into the park. The sun hadn't melted much of the snow in amongst the trees so the path was slippery and slushy in places. It was calm and sheltered close to the ground while gusts of warm wind made the tree tops groan and moan. Trunks and branches ground against each other with a nails-on-a-chalkboard screech. She held up a handful of snow to the light. The puff and fluff of the last snowfall had melted into ice diamonds: beauty that nearly took my breath away. We both wondered what the Inuit would call this type of snow.
  Yesterday I ventured up the road again. A little farther this time. It doesn't take long or very much for the fitness level to improve.
  What had been snow blanketed fields only two days prior were now gooey mud and ice covered puddles. Under the golden heat of the sun, the ice cracked and snarled and popped. I'd never heard this before unless I'd intentionally stepped on ice, a favorite childhood pastime. The sound fascinated me. I tried to imagine what the noise must be like when the ice breaks up on a lake. It would have be amplified a thousand fold.
  It felt good to get out of my head for a while. Feeling the warmth of the sun as I raised my eyes closed face to the sun felt good as did the warmth on my back as I hiked north. Still, it is only February and even though the warm temperatures are supposed to continue, it's a sure thing that there is bound to be a bit more winter.
  "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" Ps 8:3-4
 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Discernment by Susan L.

  I haven't filled out too many of my worksheets but that's okay. Instead there's been many hours of quiet contemplation as anxiety itself is being pulled apart and understood.
  Not all anxiety is bad. Excitement creates the same tenseness, the same increase in blood pressure. Excitement and anticipation are the motivational face of anxiety. They are "run to" emotions instead of "run from" even though the physiological response is nearly identical. It's wonderful to be able to recognize the positive face of this constant presence in my life.
  I've been led to think about hyper vigilance, the unspoken need to always be on guard "in case something bad happens". It's like being caught in the dryer, spinning around. Hyper vigilance creates anxiety, the "A" word causes hyper vigilance. By looking around and acknowledging the dangers in a given situation as well as how an environment is safe has begun to dismantle the need to be constantly alert and ready to run.
  In reality, danger is everywhere: slippery sidewalks, a hot stove, traffic, knitting needles 😃. Yet there are just as many efforts to keep people, me included, safe. Salt for the ice on the roads, a habit of making sure the stove burner is turned off, street lights and crossing guards...laughing at the idea my needles are going to become possessed and attack me.
  Part of what has evolved over the last week is patience instead of self condemnation. What I now recognize as having been a lifelong companion will take time to unravel. Many of the things that make me anxious seem childish but in giving myself permission to feel this way regardless of an adult's logic has also helped. Is a fear of spiders logical?
  There is a growing ability to acknowledge and be thankful for the times when fears have kept me safe. Danger was very, very real while driving the tractor in a hilly hay field so therefore I was ultra careful (and incredibly anxious the entire time). Hmm, simply writing about it sent a wave of adrenaline through my system. It's a big anxiety trigger even though it is only a memory. God willing, I'll never have to sit behind the wheel of a tractor again.
  Which affirms the connection between present anxiety and the past. Most of what makes me anxious has been with me a long, long time. Thank You, Lord, for helping me unravel the mess. Thank You for providing clarity, understanding and compassion.
  Thank You, Lord, for helping me finally listen to what is going on in my body and brain.
  "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds." 2 Cor 10:3-4