Add a Single Hour to Your Life

February 9, 2015

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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? Matthew 6:25

I'm a lifelong worrier. I know lots of people say that, but I literally cannot remember a time when I didn't have stress and fear in my life. I remember being a young child, probably no older than four, and sneaking into my parents' room in the middle of the night because I had a nightmare and couldn't go back to sleep. I remember clearly creeping through the house and climbing into the middle of their bed and snuggling between them. I remember being eleven or so and begging my mother to give me a dose of Benadryl in the hopes that it would make me drowsy enough to fall asleep. Many nights she wouldn't, and I would stay up for hours, watching the lights in my neighbors' houses, slowly click off as they went to sleep. It was the loneliest feeling- like I was the only person in the world awake, and if I were to fall asleep, I had no doubt that something terrible would happen. They say that stress and worry doesn't cause gray hair, but my mother warned me at thirteen that if I didn't stop stressing out about everything that I would have a head full of gray hairs by the time I could drive. She wasn't too far off. Speaking of driving, I didn't get my license until my senior year because I was too afraid to take the driving test- I couldn't handle the pressure. 

My life has been one worry and anxiety after another. My husband calls me an "awfulizer", meaning my mind automatically jumps to the worst case scenario with every situation. He's late coming home and not answering his phone? It can't be that he's just busy on taking another phone call; he must have been in a car accident. I have a headache and my vision is blurred? It can't be allergies because I forgot my A.M. Claritin; I definitely have a brain tumor. My psychiatrist in college called in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was twenty years old before someone finally gave a name and an explanation to what was wrong with me. For the first time, I felt relief. Well, first I read every internet article on GAD I could find, but then I felt relief. Something really was wrong with me. I wasn't just crazy. OK, maybe I was just crazy, but it was something I could deal with now that I knew what the problem was. 

Years of therapy and medication helped some, but never completely eliminated my fears. Having a son in 2007 made my stress and irrational worrying worse than ever. Now I had a baby to endlessly worry over. There were days when I didn't dress my newborn at all because I was certain I would break his neck pulling a onesie over his big head. I refused to change diapers until after his umbilical stump fell off for fear that I would bump it and hurt him. I, not even exaggerating here, took a poop-filled diaper to his pediatrician because the poop wasn't the same color and consistency as described in my baby manual What to Expect the First Year. Eventually fear, stress, and worry just became my default. This was just how I was going to always feel, and there was nothing I could do about it. 

By the beginning of December, I had reached a breaking point in my career as a high school teacher. I was literally sick to my stomach every day as I prepared to go to school. I will spare you the details, but I was physically sick every morning like clockwork. Dread and fear threatened to consume me, and I felt hopeless most of the time. These were dark days, friends. And this is what led me to my Bible and Jesus. I had tried everything else with no relief, so I felt like Jesus was my last chance. I knew reading my Bible and praying wouldn't hurt, but I couldn't believe how much it helped. Why did I turn to Jesus as a last resort? I try to imagine how much more peaceful my life could have been if I had talked to God fifteen or twenty years ago. I try not to beat myself up about my delay too much; I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that every part of my journey was preordained by my Heavenly Father. His timing is perfect. 

I still have a long way to go in my journey. I have not been magically fixed overnight. I still worry about things, but worry no longer consumes me. I am able to put the right perspective on the issue instead of "awfulizing". I know that worry will not add a single hour to my life. I know that God doesn't want me to worry. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your cares on Him; He cares for you." I work very hard at "giving it to God" now. I try to ask myself, "Will this matter tomorrow? Will this matter next week? Will this matter in a year?" Nine times out of ten, the answer is a resounding no.  And if my answer is honestly no, then I just don't worry about it. 

December 9, 2014: Thank you for taking away all of  my fears and replacing them with peace. Thank you for letting me know I'm normal, even when the spirit of fear is trying to tell me I'm not. Thank you for giving me control of my thoughts and for helping me turn negative thinking into positive thinking. Thank you for keeping me safe and loving me. 

One of the things I love most about You is You hold the answers not me. I don't have to worry about "what-if" or "why" or "how"- I give it to you because it is beyond my ability to understand.

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