Anxiety – What to do when I don’t have control

Anxiety 

I am a planner by nature. I feel better when I have my week planned out ahead of me, know what is going on each day, and I often even have the next week planned out mentally as well. I don’t have to be the one controlling what happens, or what plans are made, but I feel like I have a better handle on my life when I know what is going to be happening.

What happens when something comes up last minute? I freak out a bit. I have found I don’t like when people call us up and say, “Hey, you guys wanna come out for *fill in various activity* tonight?” This doesn’t always irritate me, but when I had hoped, rather, planned, for my husband and I to have one night to ourselves, and that gets threatened, I get defensive. I still haven’t figured out why.

Now God doesn’t like us to be comfortable. And He certainly doesn’t like it when we get stuck in our ways if they are human flaws. I don’t believe that my planning tendencies lead me to sin. In fact, because I am the more organized and detail-oriented out of my husband and I, and it has helped us to stay on top of the many obligations that we have together. Being in ministry, there are usually three or four things going on simultaneously, and I can just naturally keep track of them all. I think my husband and I have been grateful for that more than once, as I have helped us not double or triple book ourselves!

But I think that the desire to control my daily life, and being frustrated when it changes, is where the conflict comes into play. I don’t often like to admit it, but if I am controlling my life, then that means that God isn’t. I know and live my life in a way that God is the one that ordains the outcome of my days, and whatever happens is what He had planned to happen, to help me grow and learn and to take care of me. He is the one that guides my steps. I just like to be involved and to know what is going on.

He knows that about my heart, and I know and truly believe that my intentions are not sinister in the least. If they were God would be stretching me in a lot more ways than He is. But I find I am most anxious about the things that I have absolutely no control over. Go figure, right?

My Mom has been really sick the last few years. Experiencing various chronic illnesses, in and out of the hospital. It has always been in the corner of my mind, and it always makes my stomach tighten with unease. I am among the many who do not understand the reason for illness or how God uses it for His glory, but I trust Him that it happens.

She recently went into the hospital for a more severe illness, called GBS. This disease is when the immune system attacks the nerves, and there is a 5% chance that it can be fatal. Thankfully, and by the grace of God alone, my Mom’s experience didn’t get anywhere near that bad. But for two or three weeks, my life was a constant and ugly struggle. At first the doctors thought it was cancer. Then they thought maybe a stroke. They were wrong and then wrong again, before they sent her to Cleveland Clinic to be observed by more specialized doctors. Within 24 hours they found out what it actually was, and began her treatment. It was a five-day treatment, and there was always the chance that it wouldn’t work or could get worse. I was on the phone with my Dad what felt like every two hours.

But God was good, and He has brought her now to the healing process, which unfortunately could take anywhere from three months to a year. She still can’t walk, and she is having a lot of problems with confusion and hallucinations. The doctors are not sure where the mental problems are coming from, but its just making it even harder on my Dad, who is the only one there with her everyday as my sister and I have both moved out and away from the home.

So why do I bring this up? God has been stretching me, and I have learned two things from this process that has helped to keep me sane.

One, to take each day as it comes as God gives it to me.

Matthew 6: 25-34 says, “5 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I have found these verses in particular to be of special comfort to me in this trial. It’s been nearly two months since my Mom went into the hospital, been diagnosed, gone through treatment, and is now in rehab for recovery. And I nearly went insane with worry about a month ago. And I just realized that I can’t think of the “what ifs” and the possible outcomes down the road, because I just physically can’t do it anymore. My Dad finally said, “the Doctor said we have to take this one day at a time.” And its been hard for my family to swallow, but we’ve had to. God has given me no other choice, and instead of fighting Him, I have given in, and found peace and solace because of it.

The second thing I have learned is to find God’s blessings in small things.

When the big things in life are wrong or unchanging, then the way to find joy is to find the small things that God gives to us. Like in getting almost all green lights on the way to work in the morning. Or finding out that your insurance covers your doctor’s appointment when you weren’t sure it was. Or when your pet decides that it wants to lay with you instead of on the floor. It’s small things, but I feel like it is the little things that go wrong that could set me off at this point. So if I can focus on the small things, it might make the big things easier. And so far, God has been very good to me about that and proven to me that that is the right mentality.

If you are suffering with a family member who is ill right now, I totally understand. I hope that this can give you some comfort. I am praying for you, friend, and hope that God will bless and heal you or you family member, and if that is not His plan for today, that you might see His blessings in the small things and focus on today, because getting through today is the best you can do today!

~Kate

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