Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about two things. One is anxiety, posts and books that suggest anxiety isn’t necessarily a sin, that God can use the anxious person, that the anxious person is loved.
The other is self care, the idea that it’s okay, even prudent, for a person to care for his or her body, spirit, soul, by diet, exercise, rest, anything that feeds and nourishes and heals.
I have two main health issues. One is easy to describe. I’m a type one diabetic. I wear an insulin pump 24/7. Without insulin, I would have the life span of a fruit fly. So I take care of myself. I watch what I eat; I monitor the levels of sugar in my blood; I change and maintain my pump; I exercise.
If I show up at a potluck dinner and don’t eat everything, nobody ever says to me “Jill, you should just eat that cookie and let God deal with it. Have faith. You can beat this thing if you step out in faith, step out of your comfort zone, and eat whatever you want.”
Nobody says that because it sounds crazy.
My other issue is anxiety. I’m not necessarily fearful of things. It’s mostly a physiological response. If I’m with a group of people, I will walk away with a headache. Every. Single. Time. Yes, I take an Excedrin after church every week. After every meeting. After I teach classes. After I serve dinner at the homeless ministry. My stomach churns when something new is on the horizon. Panic attacks hit for no reason, often the second I wake up in the morning. I struggle to jump into conversations. Social situations aren’t comfortable and likely never will be.
However, I do it. I stock up on Excedrin and do what I’m supposed to do. Truthfully, I fake it. Sometimes I would give my left arm to walk away from a group event, but that’s not acceptable. Sometimes I can’t force myself to attend something, after which I feel guilty. Like taking insulin with every bite of food is part of my life, the unease I feel in groups of people is part of my life.
Now, anyone who has followed my blogs might remember I admitted I don’t have a lot of answers. This is one of those posts. Self care says I can take care of myself. Diabetes has taught me I have limits, and I can live around them, take them into consideration when I plan things. Anxiety, though… Can I give myself the option of staying home when attending an event makes me feel sick? What kind of self care is acceptable when a person struggles with mental issues? Are they even real?
I hear about stepping out of my comfort zone. I don’t know what that should look like. I find myself thinking that if I find an event miserable, then I’m out of my comfort zone and God is happy. I start to believe God likes my misery. It’s my litmus for whether or not I’m doing God’s will. But I don’t feel that way when my blood sugar is high or low. I am allowed to strive for a steady, healthy blood sugar level. Why do I hate myself when I strive for a steady, healthy mental state?
Sorry. No answers here. Only questions. Things to take to God. Items to drop at his feet. I’ve undertaken a few things lately that raise my anxiety to the extreme. Is that good? Will God bless it, or does he allow me to say no when something is more than I can comfortably handle? How does that fit with comfort zones and stepping out in faith?
I’m not giving up on these questions. I want to feel decent. I’m tired of supporting the Excedrin company. But I’m also tired of supporting the insulin makers, and yet I don’t plan to stop using it. My weariness has nothing to do with it. Life is sacrifice.
What I do know is God wants me to cast my cares on him. It’s okay to wrestle sometimes and ask the big questions. The Spirit inside me wants to make things known to me. So I will ask, and I will listen. I think that’s what he wants from me most of all, a relationship with questions and concerns and depth.
I will look at the Word and ask what it means to be beloved and still struggle with issues that might be health or might be sin. Or probably a combination. I look forward to finding the answers with him. The Spirit has been speaking to me, healing wounds, and I know he wants to tackle this one with me, too, with answers or healing or something. Something big and something true.
One thing I do know, though. When the Kingdom finally arrives in full, both Excedrin and Insulin will be parts of my past. Panic attacks will never happen again, nor will crippling hypoglycemic episodes. I will have answers. I might not even remember the questions. All the brokenness, heart and soul and body, will be healed. Can’t wait for that day.
Come Quickly, Lord. And until you do, give me ears to hear and a heart that understands everything I need to know to honor you.