Today is a day like any other. Normal chores, normal homeschool, normal fights at naptime. Nothing out of the ordinary. Yet today my anxiety is causing my heart to pound in my chest. I went to have a bite of sweet and noticed that my hand was shaking. I can’t seem to sit down or finish anything that I start. I haven’t had a day like this in quite a while, and so it has caught me completely off guard.
I used to wonder if anxiety was something only I dealt with, if others had a similar issue they sure weren’t talking about it. This only told me that I should handle my troubles in silence. I did too, for a lot of years I just pushed through the racing heartbeats, the shakiness, the feelings of fear that would overwhelm me for no reason whatsoever. Today I decided to try to sit down and write instead. My time has been swallowed up recently. My tiny not sleeping well, the crush of our days, leaves me yearning for a little peace, but it is not found. I see these moments throughout my day, but when I try to utilize them someone always rushes in. There is always someone who wants something from me when I only want a minute to breathe.
I don’t know if the rush and busy contributed to my anxiety today. This was a day I chose not to schedule, not to make any plans for at all. We would stay home. It was supposed to be a day to catch up, but my littlest was up early. Bringing her full three-year-old sass into my time to read God’s word and to write. This child, or perhaps the stage that she’s in, it seems her goal is to wreak havoc on all things that bring rest to my soul. I spend pieces of my day teaching her to enjoy quiet time looking at her books. I encourage her strongly to listen to her body; rest when she feels sleepy, run and jump when she is feeling energetic. I give her the words to express how she is feeling, but she is still small. So often her yelling overwhelms my heart.
This is perhaps more honest than I should be. After all, I frequently write about how much I love being a mother…
The truth of it is this; mothering has pushed my anxious heart more than any other thing I’ve done in life. Possibly because in being a momma I have stretched so far past the safety buffers I built around myself. As a young person I didn’t take big risks, rather I chose what was known. Over the years of growing a family I have pushed so far from what was comfortable. There is good and bad in this.
The good is that I have found a place in a community of women I can call actual friends. Something I longed to have for so many lonely years. More good is that I now have a voice, I am not easily silenced. I will passionately defend and lead and teach my children to do the same. The best of pushing far outside of my comfort zone is that I have come to lean into God so closely that I physically feel His presence as I walk through a difficult-for-my-still-occasionally-shy-self-situation. When I don’t forget to seek it out at least.
The bad is that there are days when anxiety grips my heart and I yell back at my overly tired tiny. The days when everything seems to pile on top of the thing before instead of being easily brushed aside, on these days it seems that my ability to handle stress is nonexistent. I know that in these moments I should probably set aside the school work, I should go outside, I should beg quiet activities from my children. Why can’t I do this?
I have this nagging fear that after years of being told how much I can not do, years of being subtly put-down, years of being made to feel less than important…Sitting here nearly eight years after that life ended, I have a feeling those words are what causes the anxiety. Realizing that has brought me to tears.
You put a person and a place behind you, you grow a new garden, you build up these walls to keep yourself safe and cozy, unknowingly walling those words in with you. I’m not sure what to do with this information. I don’t know how to put the words and the damage they’ve done outside the walls of my new garden. I don’t know how to let it all go, that doesn’t seem quite true…I’m afraid. I am afraid that the words are true and that I am wrong. That if I put this belief aside I would be proven false. Worse; that if I tried to believe God’s truth for me fully that He would be proven a liar.
That is definitely more honest than I should be here. I fear this is too bold to put out into the world.
I can’t say exactly what causes me to get lost in this place, on the days I feel the crush I simply can not get those old words out of my head and I want to scream. I usually do. Yesterday I stepped out on my deck and breathed the icy air deep into my lungs. I stood there in my stocking-feet, tears crystallizing on my cheeks, begging that the weight would be lifted from my very soul. Then I said a few honest words, I let those words fill a space in my heart, I let them be true without apology, even though they maybe needed one. I watched a chickadee flit through snowy branches. Verses swirled on the frost filled wind. I went back inside to my children.
I had found no answers in the chill air. I was no better a mother after I stepped back into my life. Why share this moment with you then? I guess because it was a tiny minute taken just for me. This in itself shows crazy-growth. In recent memory I would not have allowed myself these three minutes in the cold, would have looked at them as a failing time. Seeing them instead as saving grace, as showing myself grace, this change in perspective, even just for three minutes is a big heart change.
I’m reminded how little I know about my parents, about my friends, about people I am acquainted with. Who can say what has happened to get a person to where they are this day? Now, what to do with that information? Grace, I suppose. All is grace, always grace, in all things show grace. I often circle back to that, how I wish this was a lesson that I could fully grasp and be done learning! The teaching of it is hard on me, I’m unsure how many more times I can see this lesson in my life before it breaks into my very soul.
Today, if my tiny sleeps, and even though she doesn’t, I am letting the lesson of grace break into my heart and mind, it is working holes into my garden wall. Perhaps all of those hurt-filled words will escape through the gaps created by grace. I’m pretty sure I can’t force them out, I have to let the grace do it’s work first. I guess that’s why the Teacher keeps me here, in this place of aching and learning, even though the work is hard, it is holy too. The work of grace will heal me, but it will take time. There are many, many words to forget. Many behaviors to replace, many aches to be healed.
Many days have passed since I wrote the words you’ve just read. I was afraid to press the “publish” button. This is a piece of brokenness in me that I don’t easily share. I still feel that I should be strong enough to expel the anxiety from my life, from my inmost-self. I hear those words that have broken me as I consider again if I’ll share this with you. They tell me to keep this quiet, that no one really needs these words. Somehow I don’t believe those lies this morning. Has enough time passed? Have enough words broken through the walls? Is His grace really sufficient for me? I will let y’all in today, in a little closer. As I type this closing I am praying for you. You know who you are, where you are, what walls need to be broken by grace. I will let you read this because by speaking my own truth you may find a tiny piece of yours. I trust this to be true, I trust we will both find peace.