Being still is hard. Sometimes, it feels impossible. It’s especially difficult for me when anxiety is running wild. We all have moments of anxiety. But for some, anxiety is ever-present. It’s often linked to depression. And, it can be exhausting.
Have you ever had so much caffeine that you can’t seem to put a thought together and just felt jittery? That’s what anxiety felt like to me. Anxiety is defined as stress that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event, the inability to set aside a worry, and restlessness. When I feel that things are getting out of my control, I can get extremely restless and fidgety. My thoughts are not always logical. Everything around me can feel irritating. I have a need to “fix it” or “hide from it”.
My first husband’s death sent me into a tailspin with grief. I didn’t know how I was going to manage. I didn’t want to manage alone. The fears were so strong and so deep that just deciding what to wear in the morning was almost too big of a decision. I wanted to know where my kids were at every moment. I had nightmares, so I didn’t sleep much. I spent hours just walking in circles around the living room in the middle of the night. As the months and then years passed, I believed that I was getting over it all. But, the reality was: I had just gotten used to coping with the anxiety and depression. I could put on a good face for friends, family and co-workers. I scheduled as much into my week as I could. I worked full-time. I volunteered with my church. I volunteered for activities at the school my kids attended. I stayed as busy as I could. My kids grew up and life slowed down.
I found comfort in concentrating on anything. Most people would call it obsessing. Terry and I had dreamed of replacing our wedding dishes with depression glass. So, I set about doing just that on Ebay. I bought platonite place settings and serving dishes. I bought emerald-green depression glass. I found a particular glass goblet that I liked and bought a whole set in emerald-green and red as well as matching cocktail glasses. I collected peanut butter glasses with state flowers. I hunted for cottage cheese bowls (I had 5 different colors.) I bought leather purses. My kids would joke about all of the boxes I was getting. I collected flamingos for the yard and for the house. When I was looking for new things to buy, I didn’t have to face my life.
When both of my children left home, I had a more difficult time filling the time. I would cook a big elaborate meal once a week and my son would come and eat. But, the rest of the week, I would buy take out and eat in my driveway. On weekends when my daughter wasn’t coming home or I wasn’t going to see her, I would just stay in bed and watch TV and sleep. The only reason I would get up was to let the dogs out. I avoided the reality of my life as much as possible. Things that should have been important, just weren’t any more. I felt like my life was over and I was just waiting it out. I prayed and studied, but nothing seemed to make a dent in the numbness that had become so normal for me.
I had convinced myself that I was “just fine.” I had worked through all of my issues. As Tim and I began to talk about a future together, my very tightly wound ball began to come undone. Emotions and feelings that I had not allowed to surface for years were suddenly in full view. It was at that time, I sought the help of a counselor. It took a few tries to find a good fit, but it was worth it. I could sit and talk about my fears and doubts. I began to work on issues that had been around for way too long. I began to feel that I was gaining control; I was becoming a whole person again.
I was no longer afraid of being alone, of being still. I realized that I needed time alone to spend with my Bible and in prayer, writing or drawing. I had allowed grief to become self-doubt and fear. I stood by as the enemy had robbed me of the ability of “being still”. I had to learn, again, what peace comes with knowing God.
Stop the busyness. Look at what God has for you. Listen for His leading. Be still.
Just be still.