I've always been a worrier. My mother is a worrier, and her father before her was a worrier (her mother, though, not so much -- she was a very stiff upper-lip woman, though Croatian and not British, and had an unshakable habit of always looking on the bright side and rarely complaining). I've also struggled with anxiety and, at times, depression in my life.
Thankfully, for the most part my anxiety and depression aren't major players in my life. However, I won't lie, worry still creeps up on me -- especially, I've noticed, worry about my loved ones and in particular my children.
Something happened to me recently, a reminder that the world we live in can be a dangerous, scary, cruel place. I am pretty sheltered -- a self-imposition that I take to reduce my stress -- in that I don't watch the news or consume media that is scary, violent or disturbing. But sometimes, life can be scary, people can be violent, and situations can be disturbing.
Thankfully, what caused me anxiety was something pretty ambiguous -- I turned it into something more than it was through worry.
And then, my "skills" kicked in. My skills are what I call the stress- and anxiety-relieving techniques I've learned through cognitive behavioural therapy -- things like not letting your mind run around in circles, trying to stay in the present moment, meditation, visualization, positive thought replacement and more.
I've always been a very visual person, so I decided I would go down this route. I'm really into the British television show Doc Martin lately (I love all things British, but especially television shows -- everything from Being Human to Coronation Street to Downton Abbey) and I am absolutely in love with Cornwall. I really, really want to visit one day! I love how open it is, how the sea stretches on forever after the green cliffs give way.
|Cornwall, UK -- my happy place!|
So, I pictured I was there. It was a beautiful summer day, just before sunset, and I was standing near the edge of a grassy cliff above the sea. The ocean breeze was warm and refreshing. And I was giving my worries to God. I was taking out these imaginary worries, visible as black, untidy, worried scrawl, and squishing them into a ball, like how you'd make the base of a snowman. I kept adding worry after worry, some in black writing, some in red, until a big ball of worry was in front of me. And then, I looked to the sky. This is where it gets sort of cheesy, but really helpful. I imagined God's mind-bogglingly immense hands coming down out of the sky. Seriously, they were enormous. They lifted up the ball of my worry -- the ball that seemed so big to me -- and in His hands, my worries became small as a grain of sand. And then, the hands, the ball of worry, were gone.
I imagined myself taking a deep breath, saying a prayer of thanksgiving while looking up to the sky, and then turning and walking away from the cliff's edge. I walked, in my mind, with joy in my heart and a spring in my step. Any time a worry came, I released it and watched the tiny words float heavenward and disappear.
I like this visual, and I think I'll use it again. I may even record an audio meditation version of it to listen to from time to time. I think it's so important that we who worry (and even those of us who don't -- you don't have to give a ball of worry to God, you can give a ball of anger or sadness) are able to realize that we have a God who has completely and totally got this. He's got us! We can trust Him! We don't have to do this all by ourselves, we don't have to be strong, iron-willed, flawless people. We can tell God our fears, our deepest worries, and we can let go enough to let Him take them. We can banish the prideful thoughts that say only we can and should be in control of our lives, and let Him take control. I know it's what I'll be trying to do a lot more often.