But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. –John 14:26
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. –John 8:36
It is in our most insecure moments, when we are away from our “norm” or that which we call comfortable, when the “crutches” of life have been removed that we tend to dive into the ditch of fear, anxiety, negative self talk and a list of other ‘coping’ mechanisms to feel back in control.
You feel me?
Think of the last time true fear or anxiety set in for you? Were you at home, under your comfy covers about to dig into the next season of your most recent Netflix binge? Was it when you were with your loved ones, relaxing on a beautiful day or when you finally had a chance to read that book, sing that song or stretch that artistic muscle? Likely….not.
How about the last time you were asked to do something that was completely out of your comfort zone? Dropped into a new job position, with little or no direction? When that unsuspected illness hit your family out of the blue, knocking you completely off balance? How about when the schedule you so carefully crafted has gone rogue and you are now at the mercy of other humans that could care less that you need to be home by 5 to start dinner, do bedtime routines and be that other full time job at home? Yeah….I thought so.
For me, it was this past weekend. It was when the plan was not going as scheduled and I was conveniently an hour and a half away from home. When I was pursuing a ministry in mentorship that I had prayed so hard over, that my 2 little girls began vomiting profusely back home. Yes, my husband was home and he truly was amazing but I am mom. I am the one that usually handles these situations, cleans up all the vomit and comforts their exhausted bodies. I am the one who is always there and therefore is always requested. I am mom. But on this weekend, I was not available. I was called to serve and I was gone. My mind began spinning a hundred miles a minute. Was this a sign? Was I being tested? Should I stay and continue to do what I came to do or jump in my car and hightail it outta there?! I can tell you, all options crossed my mind and my own conclusion simply could not be trusted, especially since I had equal justifications to both sides and I had severe conviction and guilt pounding at my heart.
What did I do? Well, what I think any mom would do…turn to a friend that you think is going to tell you exactly what you want to here, affirm your conflictions and set you free! Except for instead I got that friend that spoke truth over me, listened to me, prayed for me and then gave me free will to make my own choice. This friend that sat with me, listening, truly listening and then nurtured my thoughts to help my head catch up with my heart. I knew what I needed to do this whole time, but wasn’t giving myself permission to do it because of my guilt, fear. So, I stayed. Did my heart stop hurting for my sick babies? No. Did the mom guilt for not being home go away? Nuh uh. Did I know instantly that I made the right choice? Absolutely not. But I trusted that the choice I came to, to stay, was the right one and prayed to God to reveal to me why. To give me peace. Because our God works in His own divine and perfect timing, I had to wait….and when the answer came, the tears were aflowin’. I knew in that moment exactly where I was suppose to be and it gave me peace.
You see friend, I was completely out of my comfort zone. My schedule was not going as planned and anxiety found the perfect nook to seep in and take over my mind. Lies began to become my self talk, telling me that I wasn’t fulfilling my role as a mom, a wife. That I wasn’t really needed in this sacred space but at home. And these lies paralyzed my rational thinking and had me second guessing every thought that crossed my mind. Anxiety does this. It stops you, holds you captive and removes the strength you have spent your lifetime building, but…it doesn’t have to. This is where tangible tools are necessary, needed to walk you out of the darkness and into the light of hope.
Tangible Tool #1:
We were never, and I mean never, meant to walk this life alone. Jesus himself was rarely alone, unless it was to pray or spend one on one time with His father. He was often found walking with a group of friends, disciples, fraternizing with the locals and teaching to all who would listen. He used the short time He had on this earth wisely. He focused on His actions first, honoring and serving His heavenly father. He then chose His words carefully, speaking only truth and setting aside judgement, cattiness and anger towards what wasn’t going His way. He chose His community intentionally. Picking not the perfect but the willing. You see friends, our actions affect our words and our words affect our community. If you are walking around with negative thoughts, you will likely scowl over smile and relationships that could potentially walk alongside you during the tough times will never be made. Connections will be lost. So when I say, find your tribe, choose your community. I don’t just mean to wedge yourself into a moms group to check off the list of community. I mean check your thoughts, your self talk, your view of others. Watch your actions…smile, hold open a door, offer to help. Choose your community, look for friendships that will lift you up, that give as much to you as you to them, that you can truly talk to, not at. Choose community that doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear, with the only motive of love.
Tangible Tool 2:
Stay present in His word. This piece of advice gets thrown around so often, I’m not sure if we really know how different this can look for each and every person. For me this means reading and worship but that’s because I love to read and jam out in my car. For you this may look like a bible study, that holds you accountable and keeps tabs on you (I love these too). This may look like being outdoors, near water and just embracing this beautiful earth created for us (Yeesss, all day, every day to this!). This can look like talking to Him, praying, being constant and intentional in your interaction. This can be retreat’s, church, life groups, podcasts, serving in your local community or simply opening scripture. Dear friend, there is no “right” way to do it, we just need to do it. Whether you are hearing His word in scripture or singing a song, it is important that we do it daily. Why? Because the negative self talk, the days that don’t go as planned, the unexpected happens daily. Because without His truth, our truth takes over and we go down a rabbit hole of self doubt and fear. Because we live in a broken world, full of sin and we aren’t always strong enough. But the truth is, that He is. He is strong enough and with Him, we can do ALL things. We can not say those hurtful words, we can not pick up that drink, we can survive the long hard battle placed before us.
Tangible Tool 3:
Create a back up plan. So as a mom, I’m sure you are used to these. Really, how often does plan A really ever happen? Or at least the way we thought it would? For me, almost never. So my plan B always is close by and ready to pull out without hesitation to save the day, stop the meltdown. Mom for the win! So how come we are so good at creating back up plans for our kids but we rarely have them for ourselves? If you know you are going out of town, you plan accordingly, you have reinforcements…but what about for your day to day life? Our back up plans can look like having a healthy snack in the car at all times to prevent that mid day drive thru binge. It can look like a book, filled with His truth (doesn’t have to be a bible ya’ll…this world is riddled with amazing writers that sprinkle His truth all throughout their books), in your car when you are forced to unexpectedly wait, again. Your now annoying wait time has just turned into ‘me’ time! It can look like already having that therapy session set up because who doesn’t need a little couch therapy and chances are, when that day comes, it will be exactly what you needed. This can be walking away for a minute. When your kids all hit that wall around 4 ‘o clock that they are starving but it’s not dinner time and you can no longer take the whining? You hand them a banana and walk outside for a minute. Instead of pouring that 1st glass of wine, lets first take a deep breath of fresh air. And girl, I am not bad talking a glass of wine…I like to sip with the best of them…but when I’m using it to fix how I feel verses embracing the real issue, it becomes a “crutch” and not a tool to treat the root of the problem. Mommas, food, alcohol, binge watching and social media can all be ‘good’ things, when used in moderation. But just like you would tell your child, you can have 3 cookies, not the whole bag. You can watch 2 shows, not the whole season. You can be on social media for 1 hour, not the whole day. We need to give ourselves the love and attention we give to the tiny humans we are raising. If looking at Facebook gives you anxiety, stop looking at Facebook. If cooking dinner every night stresses you out, find alternative methods to put a meal on the table or double cook your recipes, reducing your number of cooking nights in half!! If nap time just isn’t happening, try making it “quiet time” in their room instead. Let your babe rummage through all those toys they never play with or books that are filled with magical dreams and you do something for yourself for 20 minutes. If severe anxiety, depression and worry plagues you to the point of panic attacks, this looks like owning it (not shaming it) and seeing a professional for wise counsel.
Ladies, if we don’t make time for ourselves, if we don’t redirect our self talk, if we don’t start taking care of US, our household will crumble around us. I just spent the weekend with 12 teenage girls that ALL, yes all, collectively said their mom sets the tone for the whole house. That when mom is stressed, the whole house is stressed. Okay, so that isn’t to stress you out more, that’s to remind you that they are watching, listening and observing. They are learning your behaviors and often mimicking them back to you, which I can say, ain’t always pirdy.
Fear, anxiety, doubt, worry, these lies will always exist, always find ways into your day, but finding a community, staying in His word and taking care of yourself with a backup plan are tangible tools to walk you through it every time. They aren’t going to fix every issue but they are going to give you a steady foundation to stand on when the you know what hits the fan. They are going to give you that girlfriend, that truth, that plan B to walk you through it.
We got this ladies, you do you and stay true to who you were fearfully and wonderfully created to be.