Sunday, February 27, 2011

Alisha's take on Anxiety in moms.

What fears are you operating out of?

I noticed something today.
I wanted to go to the grocery store today as one big, happy family. It's something we rarely do anymore because it requires taking three kids, which requires using two shopping carts. It seemed easier, after a while, for me to just go by myself at night and avoid the whole attention-getting, 3 loud children parade. Besides all that, my husband really does not get excited about going to the store, so I kind of feel like I am dragging him along when I ask him to go with me. I wanted to give the kids an opportunity to venture out, today, though. It was Saturday, and they were cooped up inside all day. I thought about how they never get to go to the store anymore, and how it might be fun for them to stroll through the produce aisles with me and pick whatever fruit they wanted for a change.

I gave my husband the vision and he agreed that we could all go together. As we were getting ready to go out the door, I noticed myself doing something that I had done over and over again, many times before. I was getting anxious. One of my kids defiantly fought getting their shoes on and there was a lot of whining. I felt myself tense up, and my mind automatically went to, "Ahhhh man! This is going to be such a disaster! They are already acting defiant and we have not even left the house! This was such a bad idea! I wish I never had this idea." I stopped and explained to the kids what we would be doing at they store, and what they would NOT be doing. :)

Often times depression begins with anxiety. Here's my own (Alisha's) personal take on anxiety. Each of us have some past experiences that have yet to be redeemed. We have "baggage" that we carry with us from our past.

Take this now, to where I am at currently. Three kids heading to the store all at once. Daddy is coming with us, and so this is a special occasion. Still, I cannot fight this feeling of anxiousness. As moms we have to be very "prepared" at all times. The diaper bag is shoved full of any thing you might possibly need in any given situation, just in case. If the diaper bag does not have a diaper, then this most certainly will be the time when you need one. If you don't have snacks packed, then this most certainly will be the time when the kids whine relentlessly for a snack you have in the cart, and make your whole shopping experience miserable until you feed them. We (as moms) are trained to think ahead, because of past experiences with our children, when we were not prepared and had to pay for it. That's a good thing. It's part of mothering. Learning from past mistakes is obviously something that works in our favor.

However, it can also be a bad thing if it brings the mom to a constant state of anxiety. As we were heading to the store, I caught myself feeling anxious. My husband and I had a plan. We knew ahead of time which children would be riding in the shopping cart and which child would be riding in the stroller. Instead of being relieved that my husband was with us and that we could go at a leisurely pace, I resorted to "hurry-through-the-store mommy". I was anxious if we had to stand still for too long, because I knew my kids MIGHT start begging for something. I felt tense when Keely started asking for something, because I remembered past experiences of her carrying on and on throughout most of the store and I decided to get anxious just in case if she MIGHT do that again. 

As anxiety takes root in our mind, we operate out of that mentality. The truth is, I will probably be doing the grocery shopping alone for a while still, because I have the option, and it is just easier. When I was given the opportunity, though, to enjoy the experience of shopping with my family, I missed that opportunity. I am not beating myself up for that, but I am trying to learn what I can from it. I wanted to rush through the store, and not enjoy one moment of the experience. I concluded that the faster we were in and out, the less likely we would have tantrums in the store. I grabbed strawberries with mold on them and did not notice until I got home. I forgot the chicken. I barely acknowledged that my husband was even there, and quickly nodded and moved on when he pointed out a food he liked.

I flew through the store. I fly through most things with my children. I get anxious, and I let that anxiety dictate what I can and cannot do. Instead of enjoying a moment of doing a craft with my kids I get all of the necessary items out and I hurry the project along because I don't want them to "get creative" and eat the glue or something ridiculous. Do you ever feel like that? It's a hard way to be, isn't it? You start to feel it in your shoulders, don't you? You start to act hasty with people, and have to apologize afterward. You forget things a lot. You focus intently on the one thing giving you anxiety and before you know it, that anxiety is controlling you.

I started being anxious as soon as we had our first baby. I wanted to do everything right. I didn't want to hear him cry. I didn't want anyone to look at me like I didn't have it all together. Having limited control over something so important to me, was foreign territory. I needed control, or so I thought. I had no control over when this precious new person would cry, sleep, want to be held, etc. etc. Releasing those things over to God was a hard thing for me. (I still struggle with situations where I am not in control, by the way, but am currently striving to work through that)

What might be helpful is knowing this:

Anxiety is what we feel when we are operating out of fear. The opposite of fear is faith. By fearing what is coming up we are saying to ourselves, I cannot handle this thing and I cannot trust God with this thing. As you struggle in your current moment ask yourself, "Can I trust God with this?" (the correct answer to that question is always yes, by the way) :) If you are feeling like the answer to that question is "no" then pray about that. Let God know how you are feeling, and give it over to Him. Over and over again, if you have to. There is no place that you can go and be away from the Spirit. God is more than able to help you with any circumstance. He loves you and cares about you. His resources are endless, so you can trust your everything with him.

Any hurts of hang-ups from your past, that have yet to be worked for the good, are still redeemable with God. Pray for redemption from the things that are holding you back from having abundant faith.

If, as a mom, you are feeling defeated before you even get started, pray about that. Are you waking up asking yourself, "Where is God?" or are you boldly proclaiming, "God is here, and is going to provide me with what I need in order to do today well". Ask yourself, "what would I be saying if I were operating out of faith rather than fear?"

Fear says, "I can't do this."
Faith says, "With God all things are possible."

Fear says, "My kids are going to be messed up for life if I don't figure this out SOON!"
Faith says, "God can take the good and the bad, and use it for His glory. He knows my children and He loves them even more than I do. While I am a major part in who they will become, God will use other people in their lives to teach them as well. I will pray that God's grace will cover the things that could be used to harm them, and that He will redeem the trouble spots in their lives."

Fear says, "I don't even want to try."
Faith says, "I'll give it my best shot if it's what God is calling me to do, because that is where His blessings are. He will provide me with what I need to accomplish His work, as I step out and do what He is asking of me."

Fear says, "I am going to rush through this, and then plop down on the couch and let the TV take me into another world, so I don't have to face the issues at hand."
Faith says, "I can enjoy this moment. The weight of the world does not rest on this momma's shoulders, but in the hands of a God who is more than capable of taking on all of life's issues, and working them for the good."

God loves you. He has given you the children that you have for a reason. You are exactly the parent that they need. Trust that today. Thank God for that. Pray over that. If you are in hard times right now, wrestle it out in prayer and trust that God can take care of it. If you are in good times, praise the Lord for that, and thank Him for His provision in your life. You are blessed, and if you are reading this, you are prayed for today.


Johanna said...

As always Alisha, I love your encouraging words!!! I love how you gave how to combat fear. You are so beautiful and I would have loved to go stag with you to those first year of high school dances! I know we would have had fun!

Carli said...

I just want to Thank you for this post. It is truly a blessing to here that I am not alone. I sit here at my computer at 4am because I can't sleep because of the "anxiousness" that I have for the day ahead of me with my three children. I stumbled upon this blog in search of meal planning ideas and I'm grateful for finding and reading this post. It has brought tears to my eyes. We as moms do tend to take on too much and then (I know I )tend to shut down when I can't take anymore. I will share this with anyone I know who may be going throught the same things. Thank You Again.