Finding happiness 

Happiness is a feeling; a deep emotion that comes hard for those with anxiety, those with depression, those who can’t say no to people, those who are stressed for whatever reason…happiness can be tough for a million different reasons. But when you find it, it’s an amazing feeling. 
The definition of Happiness reads as follows: 

1.the quality or state of being happy.

2.good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

So if you’re one that’s struggling with finding joy in your life, I’m sure you’re wondering how to find that happiness again. As a person that struggled with all the above reasons (and still does struggle with some), I’m here to share how I found that happiness in my life again. 

1.prayer 

I pray daily for God to help me in all aspects of my life. One of my specific prayers was help with the anxiety, the depression, and lack of joy in my life. We all know prayer doesn’t bring instant results but prayer still works. Here I am today happy as can be. 

2.grace

Without grace, we are nothing. Without God, we are nothing. Combine God and His grace, we have everything, including happiness. 

3.prayer warriors 

When you ask for special prayer, be picky about who you ask. You want people to pray with you that believe in the same things you believe. You wouldn’t want a stranger’s help with praying that God heals you of a certain disease. Of course you’d rather have someone close to you, someone that knows you. For me, this meant my mom and those she entrusted to join her in these prayers. 

4.my husband 

If you don’t have your husband’s support, finding contentment in your life will be so much more difficult. I thank God that he gave me Luke. I never would’ve gotten through the rough patch I was in without him. Between his personality and God’s work through him, I knew (and always will know) that I’m in great hands. 

5.willpower

You can’t experience happiness unless you truly want it. You have to maintain the willpower and motivation. It’s like starting a healthy lifestyle; it’s pointless if you’re aren’t 150% committed to getting healthy and fit because you’ll eventually slide off the wagon. If you aren’t fully committed to finding your joy, it’s going to make the journey that much more difficult. 

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭”Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Proverbs 10:28 “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Hopy Spirit.”


Advertisements

Tragedy in the midst of life

Memories and experiences never fade, whether they’re good or bad. You may suppress them if they’re negative but nonetheless, they are still there. 

Recently, a close friends’ grandmother passed away unexpectedly. Although the circumstances were completely different, it brought back the latest memories before and when my great-grandmother passed. Naturally my husband and I wanted to pay our respects so we went to the visitation. Admittedly, I was extremely nervous and awaiting for panic and anxiety to set in because I was not prepared for what was to come. Was it going to be an open casket? How upset were my friends going to be? What about their kids? As we waited in the line right outside the room at the funeral home, I asked Luke where our friends were in the lineup and when he said right by the casket my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. When he told me it was an open casket, he immediately tried calming me since I wear my emotions on my face and just kept reassuring me I’d be fine and not to look. 

Walking by the line of close family members near the casket without looking is harder than it sounds. I turned my head the other way until I got to her husband and provided my condolences. While I maintained my composure, we truly did not stay long. We paid our respects, talked to some of the family and our friends, and left. We didn’t leave early to be rude or because we didn’t want to socialize. We left because that was best for both of us. You see, my husband and I do not deal with funerals very well, especially me. It brings anxiety, panic attacks, memories, and traumatic experiences from the past. 

I say this to tell you it’s okay to not stay for the entire visitation. It’s okay to say no you can’t attend the funeral for personal reasons (although I would if I wasn’t working). It’s okay to tell people no and you don’t owe them a reason for saying no. I’m not great at this by any means. But I’m slowly progressing. 

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭”And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today something remarkable happened. I went to a friend’s cookout by myself knowing only the couple who invited me. For an introvert with anxiety THIS IS HUGE! I cannot tell you the last time I went somewhere alone and felt comfortable about the whole situation.

I am that quiet, shy person when you first meet me. It typically takes me awhile to warm up to someone enough that I can initiate or continue a conversation. There are people I have known for months or even years that I still cannot fully be myself around. I’m still pretty quiet at family functions. Part of all this is due to trust and part of it is due to my anxiety and introverted personality.

Today I was not that person [entirely]. I talked to people I never met. I pulled up to the cookout without the knots in my stomach and the nervousness of how awkward this could be. I busted right in and made myself feel at home. The best part? It felt great. I did wish my husband was with me and did miss him but at the same time it was a big step for me to do that on my own.

There are times that I am invited places where I find some type of excuse or reason not to go because I don’t want to be uncomfortable. There are times I have to muster up the courage to get out of my car at someone’s house or even just a business to get something taken care of. I literally have to talk myself into things sometimes because it’s the healthy thing to do. After all, how can I overcome anxiety without being brave and courageous? Small steps and Jesus is all it takes.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

 

Confessions of an anxious Christian

As Christians, sometimes the world expects us to be perfect human beings. I am here to tell you, that’s not the case. No one is perfect, but as Christians we strive to be. We want to please Jesus in every way possible. There are trials and temptations thrown our way no matter how hard we pray. That just means you pray harder, you work harder and you love harder. My trial is anxiety and I KNOW this is something I can overcome but only with the help of God. I’ve done it once; it will happen again. Until that day comes there are things I, as a Christian, go through that people may not understand or even know about. These confessions are what I struggle with, whether it’s spiritually, emotionally, relationally, or mentally.

Confession #1: I’m hard on myself.

As I said earlier, we all strive to be perfect in the eyes of God. Life happens. We slip up in some way. Then we beat ourselves up about it. For me, it’s like a continuous beating  emotionally. I keep apologizing, promising God and myself to be better. Acts 3:19 states “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Deep down, I know this verse to be true but the anxiety inside me continues to scream apologies and promises.

Confession #2: It’s hard for me to say no. 

Even when there are times I want to and need to (no matter what the circumstances), telling people no makes me feel horrible. It feels as if I am letting everyone down regardless of the circumstances. My husband even says “Just tell them no,” which sounds so simple but for me a million questions come to mind. What if they get mad at me? What if they stop talking to me? What if they think I’m a bad person? What if they think “saying no” isn’t something a Christian should do? Aren’t I supposed to be loving everyone the way Jesus does? Would Jesus had said no?

Confession #3: I’m a massive over thinker.

If you haven’t figured that out by now, I over think things. When I say overthink I mean I completely analyze every single situation. What could happen, what will happen (as if I can predict the future or actions of other people), what would happen to me…those are all questions that run through my mind for every scenario. As a Christian, that’s not my job. I shouldn’t be analyzing all the scenarios thrown my way. My job is to give it to God, but if I’m honest it’s not always that easy.

Confession #4: I take things personally.

It’s become hard for me to tell if someone is joking when they make a comment or if they are serious. This is hard for people with anxiety, especially me. No matter what the comment is, you don’t want to make it more awkward and say “Wait, are you kidding around or are we being serious here?” In person, I take comments, conversations, and situations in stride. Once I’m alone where my brain starts running 300 mph or I get home to my husband, it all comes out. I’m either stressing about it in my head, trying to figure things out or blabbing to my husband about it. After all, he is the reason I have learned I take things too personally. Again, just because you know that about yourself, doesn’t make changing it easy. It’s a process, just like controlling anxiety itself or should I say not letting anxiety control you.

Confession #5: I want to be left alone.

Let me explain this one clearly. I don’t mean everyone drives me insane and I want to be stuck in a room 24/7 by myself (although I do have those days). By this confession, I mean there are times my anxiety is so high I feel like I can’t function. I not only want to be alone so I can process my thoughts and get myself together, but sometimes I need that. One thing I have learned is that it’s okay to want and need time to yourself-time to think, time to rest, time to heal, time to handle the anxiety. For me, this can be as simple as a shower, a nap, reading a book for a bit, or just laying down. I think this is a difficult one for people who have never experienced anxiety to understand. As I still work through handling my anxiety, I try harder to make it known why I’m so tired or so stressed or why I have that look my husband says I have on my face when something is wrong.

Anxiety is not an easy fix. Being a Christian with anxiety definitely does not make it easier. But I know God is gracious and I can rely on Him.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” -Psalm 55:22

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16

 

 

 

 

Grace in a marriage

Matthew 19:5-6 states that “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Marriage is a promise and sacred bond between a man and a woman publicly entered into before God. I could entertain you on how our wedding went but I’ll save that for another time. Luke and I have been married for 7, almost 8 months. As all newlyweds probably say, it’s been wonderful and full of love. That’s entirely true for us. We’ve experienced things most newlyweds would not have to endure but it has strengthened our marriage in numerous ways. It has taught us more about communication (one of the reasons difficulties begin in a marriage), true, deep love, and grace.

I never thought about grace in a marriage; at least not until I realized grace is about love, forgiveness, tenderness, and helpfulness. Aren’t these all of the things we ask of our spouse and that our spouse asks of us? Grace is so vital to a healthy marriage. My husband has shown me grace countless times in the last 7 months. He’s shown grace during the grief, the anxiety, the impatience, the irritability, the sadness, the neediness…the list could possibly go on if he was writing. Without his endless love, just like Jesus’, I wouldn’t be where I am in life.

Grace in a marriage is about being there for each other no matter what. It’s about holding each other and listening to our spouse talk or even cry. It’s about forgiveness, whether it’s something that was said or something not done that you expected. It’s about tenderness regardless of what life throws at both of you. It’s about being helpful even with something as simple as opening a jar of pickles or cleaning the house. It’s appreciation…with EVERYTHING. Without grace, marriage gets difficult. You move your eyes from Jesus even just slightly enough to let the devil in. We all know the devil just wants to destroy marriages no matter what he has to do.

My advice for you tonight: show grace to your spouse. They deserve it just as much as you do.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” -Colossians 3:12-14

When Grief Strikes

Grief: It’s one thing in life every person experiences in some way. For me, I never understood or processed grief until the recent passing of my great-grandmother. Prior to that, I lost my grandfather on January 23rd of 2009 and my great-grandfather January 23rd of 2010. Needless to say my family was not fond of that date anymore. Those experiences were definitely hard in ways people will never understand and I don’t expect them to. The point is I never had the chance to grieve; I didn’t know how.

Fast forward to January 23rd of this year-the day the news of my great-grandmother became worse. I remember every single detail about that day and I think that’s the day the grief began. I had phone calls back to back and messages saying “call me but make sure Luke (my husband) is around.” Queue the anxiety. We already knew she had bone cancer,we just didn’t the extent of it. That day, January 23rd, was the day we were supposed to find out. Only we didn’t find out about the bone cancer, we found out about the lung cancer and liver cancer. It was complete devastation for me and brought forth the memories of my grandfather and great-grandfather passing away just years before. My great-grandmother took the news in stride. She was ready whenever God was ready to take her. The time I spent with her was difficult. She knew she was dying and I could see it too. Ready or not, it does not make the process any easier-at least not for me.

People handle grief differently. Literally every person handles it in their own way. I don’t know why I didn’t grieve over my grandfather and great-grandfather. I was sad and upset of course but I never grieved until the moment I heard the news of my great-grandmother. Then it became a triple whammy for me. I began recalling every memory and visual of my grandfather in his hospital room as I watched him pass. I began feeling terrible for not being there when my great-grandfather passed. When the time came that my great-grandmother passed, all the emotions became worse and more difficult to handle.

Grief is like a cycle. There are stages involved. You may skip a stage or you may experience all of the stages. You may go through every stage and think “ah, everything is normal again” when all of a sudden you feel sad or angry. The thing with grief is that you can also go back to a particular stage. This doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, it just means you handle it differently than others. For instance, today would have been my grandfather’s 78th birthday. I wish he could have seen me graduate college and get married. I wish I could still go visit him and drink coffee with him. But I can’t. The same goes with my great-grandfather. I am thankful my great-grandmother was at my college graduation but I do wish I could still drink coffee with her and have had her at my wedding. Due to all this plus the grief over my great-grandmother, I find myself in three, yes three, different stages of grief.

I say all this for one reason: no matter who you’re grieving over or who you have grieved over, you’re okay. You’re going to be okay. Why? Because God pours out his grace for us. You just have to accept it so that you can move on and go where he has planned for you to go.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” -Matthew 5:4

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”           -Psalm 34:18