Anxiety and Depression Series – (8) How to Hug Your Cactus

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. The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Hug Your Cactus. #anxiety #depression #hope

**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?

Oh… everything.

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.

 

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. The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Hug Your Cactus. #anxiety #depression #hope

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.

Congratulations!

*crickets…

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:

  1. It’s OKAY to be an anxious/sensitive person. 
  2. 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.

On Him.

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.


I’m hanging out at the Coffee for Your Heart and Sitting among friends and #LMMLinkup Link-ups today _ Stop by and read some other great Blogs

Hop on over HERE to read the next post in this series!

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My musings on turning 40…

My musings on turning 40... #gettingolder #aging #turning40

The man was clearly exhausted, slumped over in defeat halfway up the massive hill he was climbing. Sweat dripped down his weary face from underneath his wide-brimmed hat. Just above where he was resting his aching bones sits an “over the hill” sign on a mound of delicious emerald-colored frosting.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is my dad’s surprise 40th birthday party. Friends and family came from near and far to celebrate the demise of his youth.

At the time I was 10 and my father seemed ancient to me. 40 appeared awful because obviously, all signs pointed to the beginning of the end – including his birthday cake.

Luckily, the big, bad 40 was as far away from me as a dream.

But wouldn’t you know it, 40 finally caught up with me…

 

My musings on turning 40... #gettingolder #aging #turning40

My musings on turning 40…

Ten years ago today I was standing on the sandy beach of Puerto Vallarta, water lapping my feet and the sun warming my skin. I was celebrating the end of a decade and more importantly to me, the beginning of a new one.

30.

My 20’s were a bit rough so I wasn’t sad to say, “Arrivederci!” I actually welcomed 30 and the possibilities it held.

It’s been a little different saying goodbye to my 30’s.

For one, we didn’t take an elaborate trip to a beautiful beach.

Secondly, my life is a bit chaotic right now –  I’m a mom of three busy boys, ranging from 9 to nearly 16. Between homeschooling two of them and running like a crazy person most days to baseball, piano, drums, and driving lessons – to name a few – I don’t necessarily have time to go on a grand vacation to mourn celebrate the end of my 30’s.

And lastly,  it’s not the getting older part that I mind so much, it’s saying goodbye to a decade that I have loved. These last ten years have brought so many good things that it feels a bit like I’ve crested the mountain of life – how could it possibly get any better?

I mean, 30 was good;

It’s not just the gray hairs popping up or the wrinkles at the corner of my eyes that leave me a bit apprehensive about 40. It’s the all-around life changes.

30 was fun.

The 30’s were groundbreaking and left me settled and comfortable with, well… me.

What could this new decade hold that could be better than that?

I think maybe I’ve mentioned before that I don’t love change…

It’s not all about just me either, it’s my people too… I am no longer a mom of little boys, but a mom to young men, so I find that even my role as a mother is evolving.

It’s not bad, just different… New.

I feel a bit like I’m still trying to figure out how I fit in this new skin of mine, this new decade and this new season of life.

In the end, I have come to the conclusion, apprehensions and all, that the notions I had about 40 and the facts of it are a world apart. I did not look forward to 40 and I dreaded the thought of “aging.” (I’ll admit I fell prey to the belief that life would somehow lose value at this point.) It’s silly to think about now.

As 40 has neared and finally descended, I have found beauty with the changing in and all around me. On the day of my 40th birthday, I thought of the One who does not change while I continue to. The beauty lies in the fact that He has every day of my life carefully cared for until we meet face to face.

“Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; I will bear you and I will deliver you.”  Isaiah 46:4

Jesus.

I can breathe easier when that name is on my mind and spoken on my lips…

My hair will gray, my boys will grow to be men and another season will come as surely as the sun rises each morning. But Jesus never changes and will continue to be my anchor no matter my age or the season I find myself in.

Of that, I am certain – in a world of uncertainty.

He has proven Himself faithful to me day after day and year after year.

Because of this, I can confidently close the door on one decade and look with eagerness at the horizon of the next.


What season are you in? Is there a favorite age you’ve had? If you’re 40 or past, what do you think about the 40’s? I’d love to chat!

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The Anxiety and Depression Series – (7 )How to Journal Your Way to Healing

The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Journal Your Way to Healing #journaling #anxiety #depression

**this is an ongoing series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

Standing in my present, a safe distance from my past, I gaze back through the years to see a former me.

She is a new wife and a new mom.

She was also…

Afraid.

There is a night that she was at the end of her rope which is etched deeply into my memory.

The veil between here and the spiritual world felt thin that night, the demons were screeching loudly.

Sitting slumped on the edge of her bed, leaning over, face in her hands, she was sobbing silently as to not wake her husband. Exhausted by the frightening thoughts stuck on replay in her head and the panic that engulfed her. She was wishing it would all just end… and terrified it might.

She had a choice to make.

Meeting her there.

When I go back in my mind’s eye, I enter there quietly and kneel in front of her – silent for a moment in her presence because it feels like sacred ground.

The pain is raw, even now, all of these many years later.

Her face is mine, but younger and far more sorrowful. Smile lines have many years before they make an appearance and her tired green eyes leak endless tears. Dark curls are balled up in a bun, she lacks the strength to brush it.

Tilting my head, I imagine hunching down in front of her. Her arms were so thin, the wretched anxiety allowed her to eat very little. I long now to lift her trembling chin in my hand, to wipe away those tears and smile gently. Yearning for her to hear, “Don’t worry, your story becomes beautiful, nothing you’ve felt will go to waste, I promise.”

That fearful girl…

During my journey to healing, I was afraid of that fearful girl.

I was ashamed of her sadness, embarrassed by her swollen eyes and unkempt appearance. I didn’t want to share this ugly, shamefaced version of me. Surely no one would want her around.

I didn’t give her grace or a voice and I ignored the lessons I could have learned from her for a long time.

The Anxiety and Depression Series - How to Journal Your Way to Healing #journaling #anxiety #depression

How to Journal Your Way to Healing

Letting her speak

I kept the pages she wrote during those years in a drawer.

Tucked away.

I used to be petrified of her returning. I concluded that lingering too long over the tear-stained sheets would cause the sadness, like a snake sinking its venom into my veins, to overwhelm me and pull me back there again.

When I dared to go back I remembered that night as a turning point. A beginning of a choice.

Going through the pages she wrote has allowed me to listen to her and find value in those hard places.

What I found, to my surprise,  were words written by a deep thinker, an extremely imaginative mind, and a hurting soul. I saw a changing on each page: a leaning in, a learning to listen and a willingness to try.

For healing to occur, it first takes a belief it can happen and then a choice to try.

Journaling is so very important. It is tangible evidence of where you’ve been and allows you to build a roadmap to where you want to go.

Writing Truth

“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!” Job 19:23

*Chills. Because here they are – written in The Book.

Job, a man at the end of his rope, speaking from the place of unimaginable pain, wishing his words were written down and saved forever.

These words were exhaled with no idea as to the impact they would have. I can’t help but think, what if he would’ve held them in? All of those amazingly painful, confused words.

The hurting heart finds value and comfort from Job’s pain, from his words and from God’s words to him. They are pearls occurring from the pressure cooker of pain that Job lived.

Thank God for his words.

Journal your way to healing

I challenge you to learn from your hurt places as well. Don’t hide them and don’t hide from them. It may seem like the last thing in the world you want to do, but friend, believe me – just write:

  • Ideally, you want to write your words out on paper with a pen. Forming the letters with a pen on paper is healing and helpful, as it accesses the left side (or rational side) of your brain, it frees up the right side (or creative side.) Journaling allows both to work simultaneously to come up with solutions.
  • If you can’t actually write- try typing or speak into your phone’s notes. Just get the words that are driving you crazy out of your head and into the world.
  • Write out what you are feeling and thinking so it gets the thoughts into some sort of order – this helps with problem-solving.
  • Be truthful in your writing and I challenge you to seek out the lies. When you do, label it as a lie and find a truth that will slap those lies in the face.
  • If you struggle with persistent fears or worries, write them out and begin to look for a pattern in your worries. Find scriptures that combat that specific worry or fear or write them out. Work on memorizing those scriptures in place of those fears.

We have the choice to either listen and believe the thoughts in our minds or speak into them.

Journaling allows us to pause, hear our thoughts and address them head-on.

True peace comes when we replace lies with the truth.

I don’t fear her anymore—that frightened girl. Something I didn’t know then was that she didn’t need fixing because she was already fixed. She was His all along.

Through the pain and the words, a passion and perseverance I didn’t know were possible have risen up inside me.

She helped me, through her words, to find my own words and to release them to the world.

I go back to remind myself to keep moving forward.

Only then can I shut the door to those memories and sink my toes in the sand of where I am today.

Like a sunset immediately followed by a sunrise. My past and my present need not be so far apart; one does not lack more value than the other.

The veil was thin that night, this is true…

The veil of heaven.

He was there all along, slumped on the bed, arms wrapped around me, putting each tear in a bottle and keeping me safe.

There was purpose even there. I didn’t know it then, but I do now.


Stick with me through my personal journey of having walked through life with anxiety and depression and where I am today because of God’s grace and faithfulness!

 

You can find me and a lot of other great bloggers over here

 

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Captive to Captivated

From A Captive to One Who is Captivated - The Story of Mary. #Mary #Jesus #Easter #hope

She stood stunned, shoulders shaking, hands clasping the bottle of oils as tears rolled down her cheeks and soaked her dress. Grief left her staring in disbelief at the emptiness of the tomb she had been waiting for three days to go to.

He was gone.

His body, the one they broke had vanished, snatched away in the night as she was coming to honor Him. She longed simply to be near him one last time before the tomb would be closed for good.  


From A Captive to One Who is Captivated - The Story of Mary. #Mary #Jesus #Easter #hope

That First Easter Morning…

The twentieth chapter of John opens like a theatrical work, creating a vividly heart-wrenching picture. The sorrow Mary expresses while standing at the gravesite of Jesus is nearly palpable in just a few short words.

She was most likely physically and emotionally exhausted from the last few days. I can only imagine the despair that was battling for her mind.

When I think of Mary Magdalene I sometimes wonder that many of her emotions must have been rather new and uncertain. What did a woman who had been possessed by devils have to battle with?

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark…”John 20:1

Not until I had labored through the trenches of anxiety and depression, did I begin to be in awe of Mary Magdalene and her journey on that first Easter morning.

I was fresh from the exhaustion of life over the past few months and began to simply read His word. Focusing your mind on anything while in the pit of depression is almost impossible. However, there came a day I found myself walking that early morning path with Mary, tears rolling down my face as she wept at her beloved savior’s grave.

I could see her, making her way through the dim light, oils in her hands and the crackle of rock under her feet. Her breath visible from the chill and the anticipation of arriving at the tomb propelling her forward.

As I’m sure He has done for countless others over the last 2,000 years, God whispered hope to me through the woman who once lived captive to demons.

Until Him…

Seven demons held Mary prisoner before she met Jesus. Few would even dare to try to envision the degree of torture she endured.

She was a person hopelessly lost and left for dead…

Until she met Him.


What did Mary Possibly feel?

Weeping as she reasoned, who will save her from those that would seek to destroy her now?

Who will keep them from coming back?  A cold chill creeps up her back at the thought.

The memories seep in, threatening to strangle her as she stoops to gaze in at the empty tomb. Hope drains from her heart and out of her eyes, sobbing inconsolably at the prospect of walking this world without him.

The men that had come to see have long since returned home, back to before. 

But not her.

She stayed.

She stood, unable to choke back the tears; there was no going back for her.


Held Captive

Humanity is held captive.

We wrestle daily with any number of captors. Though they may not be demons, we have demons of our own, don’t we?

I have loved Mary’s story and can read it time and again without it growing old. Maybe it’s because I can relate on a small level.

I know a little of what it feels like to be held captive. Obviously not to the extent that she did. But I do know that the very emotion God gives us can take us captive. I have lived for years in bondage, bowing down to fear. I know first hand how ugly it can be.

There is really no emotion in the world that I dislike more than fear. I have spent a lifetime battling it, coming to a place of understanding it and finally, learning how to live with it.

Fear can blind you.

Mary saw the empty tomb and ran back to tell the disciples, however, she still remained unbelieving.

The apostle John ran and entered the tomb and when he saw the grave-clothes folded, it simply states:

“…He saw and believed.” John 20:8

The disciples went home believing but Mary stayed weeping.

…She saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  John 20:12-13

She loved Jesus fiercely and knew on a profound level just how much He was capable of and yet she wept.

When she said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus… John 20: 14

I believe her feelings and fear overrode the truth that was quite literally standing right in front of her.

How often do we miss the good right here because we are too occupied grieving at the empty tomb of what was?

We can become so burdened with the possibility of the “what if” that we forget to rejoice in the freedom we have been given.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” John 20: 15-16(partial)

He spoke and she still didn’t recognize Him! She was so bound by her sorrow that she didn’t recognize the One she came to see.

Her vision didn’t clear until He spoke one simple word.

It happened to be her name.

He Speaks

I still get choked up when I read Him speak her name. Something broke inside of me the first time I read that after going through my valley. I heard Jesus speaking truth in one word, not only to Mary but to me as well-

“I never left you, never once. You couldn’t see me working, but I was always there… with YOU personally.”

At that moment her entire perspective flipped.

 She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “…go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”

The first messenger of the resurrected Jesus was not only a woman but a woman who had been demon possessed.

I think we can all agree this was no coincidence. What better person to proclaim what Jesus accomplished than a woman who had been held captive by demons and released by Jesus.

He Releases the Captives

May we never forget His power and authority in any circumstance through the memory of the empty tomb.

He is a chain breaker.

Deliverer.

No. Matter. What.

“He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed…” Luke 4:18

 


 

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