Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A blog post on stress and anxiety isn't something I ever thought of writing but honestly, it was pushed into my face this morning (more on that later). It's not that I mind sharing some really personal things, but I created the blog mostly as a way to document the changes we've made to our home. So far, blogging has been fun and provided me with a little creative outlet. But this is real life, so why not share and maybe we can all encourage one another. Be warned, though, this is a long post.

I have one or two friends that have this magical quality of not appearing to be anxious or stressed out about life. They go with the flow, roll with the punches and almost always have a smile on their faces. I want that! I view them as I would a unicorn. Are they for real? How is this possible and how can I  get some of that?? I can't remember a time in my life when I haven't been stressed out or anxious about something. How sad! I admit I am a recovering perfectionist.  My type-A ness has gotten better now that I'm out of school although, if I'm truly honest, it's probably just seeped into the nooks and crannies of being a stay-at-home mom.
My mother can testify to the fact that I was typically an anxious, overly serious child who stressed about picking the "right" lunchbox before the start of a new school year and cried every Sunday night about going back to school on Monday morning. Hearing this makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time and I wish I could tell 5-year-old me that it's so NOT that big of a deal.

 Fast forward to 40-year-old Brooke stressing about bathroom tile and lighting choices. Or whether a traditional calendar school year is better for my children than a year-round option. Heck, just driving in the Whole Foods parking lot at lunchtime looking for a parking space is nerve-wracking for me. Freedom and choices are a wonderful thing, but for someone that second-guesses everything it can be exhausting. Oh, and attempting to grocery shop with young children? Get behind me, Satan!

As a Christian, I've struggled for years with "taking every thought captive." There's no quick fix in controlling or conquering anxiety, that I know of. Rather, it seems to be a journey and a process through life's ups and downs. What I do know is that no matter who you are, bad times, stressful times, change, and weird health situations will happen. We are not guaranteed  smooth sailing through this life. I've probably grown the most in my faith and my relationship with Jesus just in the past 10 years which coincides with getting married and starting a family. My husband and my children are without a doubt the biggest blessings in my life but have also caused me the most stress and anxiety I've ever experienced. We've been through career changes, miscarriage, illness/health, and colic just to name a few. And parenting two girls? Where do I even begin?
Or maybe I should say so many things to potentially stress about. I'm self-aware enough now to realize that living in a state of worry and anxiety is a sin and something I need to be on top of. I think that going through bad times in life has been a blessing in the sense that I needed to be reminded that I cannot control and be the architect of all the details in my life or the lives of my husband and my children. This is where spending time in God's word has been the biggest comfort to me. The Gospel always points us to Christ and not to our own ability to do anything.  Just this fact has been life-changing for me. 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 has become one of my favorite passages to cling to in times of trial when I feel the most stressed and out of control in life.


How did I get so far off track? Anyway, the point is that this morning, my 7-year-old had a major meltdown before school. I sent her to her room and told her she needed to get it together but she just kept crying and being "dramatic." Typical, really for us these days. She kept escalating to the point that I just pulled her down on the floor with me and told her to talk to me. I asked her if there was anything I could pray about with her. Through her tears, she told me that she had been afraid to tell me something. She described what are essentially panic/anxiety attacks and that she has a hard time breathing. (We ruled out that it was a medical issue). She told me that this happens to her at school sometimes when they have lockdown drills or even if they simply close all the doors. She also told me she was worried that a burglar was going to break into our house or that we'd have a fire. At this point, I was trying not to cry as I realized how much fear and anxiety she must carry around. We had a long conversation about how those are things that we cannot control and that God is sovereign and that we trust Him.

This has been a wake-up call for me. I had no idea she really worried about anything. I mean most of the time, she's happy and silly and asking to play video games after school. But, the world creeps in, even when you're 7. I immediately started asking myself where I failed her, where I went wrong. I need to be stronger, better, more organized, less stressed, etc. But then it hit me...she needs to see that I worry and that I get stressed. But she needs to see me take my worry and fear to Jesus and to leave it there with Him. Parenting is hard. I don't have any of it figured out.

What about you all? Have you experienced this with your kids? How do you handle it?

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