**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.
“I have anxiety.”
Those 3 words are difficult to squeeze out of my windpipe on some days.
Admitting I have anxiety feels like code for something else: “Nice to meet you, I’m a big baby and everyday things can terrify me.
What, you ask?
I think I am probably more cautious than most of your typical doomsdayers – in fact- I’m surprised I don’t live in an underground bunker. *Note to self: look into underground bunkers. Hmm.. except I’m a bit claustrophobic – that’s a problem.
When I say I have anxiety, it’s acknowledging weakness. And let’s be perfectly honest here, nobody likes admitting to weakness.
It’s just a really hard pill to swallow.
Anxiety and Depression Series – How to Hug Your Cactus
Being someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression for decades means I am intrinsically a sensitive person.
Anxiety and depression tag along quite nicely to a sensitive personality. I wasn’t always aware of this, which means I have spent an inordinate amount of time beating myself up for who I was.
It hadn’t occurred to me for a very long time to just be okay with it. To (gasp) admit to my sensitivity and weakness. *currently swallowing hard pill...
Hug Your Cactus
Have you ever heard the phrase, “hug your cactus?” It’s an idiom I’ve seen used in several different capacities. The one I relate to the most is in the form of embracing your version of hard.
We all know cacti to be prickly, difficult, uncomfortable things.
When you live with anxiety and depression you are often doing life with a prickly, difficult thing on your back. Over time I found that I had come to a fork in the road with my anxiety: I could continue to fight and resist or…
I could hug it.
This does not mean giving in and giving up, it means working with that piece of you rather than against it.
It’s most likely the opposite of how you feel, but you learn to come to a place of balance with that part of yourself. You make peace with that prickly ‘ol thing.
Quit trying to fix that piece. Quit trying to shake it, outrun it and rid yourself of it.
I spent well over a decade trying to do just that and you know where it got me? You guessed it- more anxious than ever.
So, what’s the answer for the sensitive, anxious person?
You may safely assume you are hard-wired to be a sensitive person if you have a history of anxiousness and/or depression.
No really, I mean it! Here’s why –
People who are naturally sensitive and anxious are typically deep thinkers and are far more emotionally in tune with themselves and others. They also tend to be extremely imaginative. (*thus the reason we easily come up with disaster scenarios for every occasion)
See, that cactus ain’t looking so bad now huh?! *nudge, nudge -wink, wink.
The two most important things I have learned over my time with anxiety are:
- It’s OKAY to be an anxious/sensitive person.
- And, more importantly, it doesn’t have to control you.
It’s extremely freeing to come to a place of giving yourself permission to feel your emotions. And even more freeing, is to understand that those emotions do not have control over you.
Hugging your cactus is really just working within the circumstances you’ve been given. And in my case, the brain I’ve been given.
I’m a feeler. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it simply means that I feel things deeply. The best way I can describe this is that I’m a sponge soaking up the circumstances and emotions around me. Because I am a sensitive person, I am often hyper-aware of other people’s feelings and moods.
I used to focus my energy on eradicating this part of me rather than managing it and channeling it where it needed to go. All of these many years later I feel blessed that God has gifted me with the ability to step into another’s shoes.
Empathy and compassion are not born from excessive strength, but rather, from having come to know our own depth of need through our weakness.
Truth be told, we all are in desperate need.
We don’t like to be weak. Self-sufficiency is where it’s at and we want to exchange dependent for independent.
However, I remember it being said:
“… for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak then I am strong…”
2 Corinthians 12:10
Jesus loves weaklings.
Maybe you don’t have anxiety. But you do have a weakness, we all do. We were made with limitations.
We were made to be dependent.
Having weaknesses is not a bad thing- it’s a human thing.
I don’t want to recoil at my weaknesses anymore – I want to embrace them. Embracing my weakness is embracing the fact that Jesus is my strength. Even my weaknesses are entirely under His control and in His power.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about that truth, it makes me want to go give my cactus a big old hug!
Maybe your cactus isn’t a sensitive personality, depression or anxiety. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. Whatever it may be, remember this, He can use ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING for your good and His glory.
So, whatever it is, go give that ugly, prickly, uncomfortable thing a BIG. FAT. HUG.