Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Activity Without Anxiety

Anxiety is a big part of my life - even if it doesn't look like that to most people.  I'm pretty good at hiding it from the world.  But those closet to me - my husband and dear friends - they know.  They know about the pains in my chest when the anxiety mounts too high.  They know about my unfortunate tendency to always see the worst possible outcome, and allow that to affect my daily life.  Granted, I deal with the anxiety fairly well most of the time - which is probably why most people would be surprised to hear that I deal with so much of it.

Introvert - Sensing - Thinking - Judgment
I'm a type-A person with an ISTJ personality - which means that I want to fulfill my duty to EVERYONE and that work comes before pleasure and that ALL things must be done well or else I have failed.  And most other people look at that and go "It's JUST the cupboard.  It doesn't have to be meticulous."  Or "We're only a few minutes late - it's no big deal."  For me, being late is a HUGE deal.  I feel anxiety over being late because I hate walking in and having EVERYONE know you're late (even if they're not actually looking).  And I also feel like it's incredibly rude to show up late to something, especially mass.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, this personality of mine means that I tend to be more of a Martha than a Mary.  There are very few times that I'll sit down and just relax . . . and most times, that's only AFTER all the chores are done.  I'm typically busy doing ALL the things - laundry; dishes; cooking; shopping; work; planning; organizing; cleaning; etc. . . . you get the picture.  And more often than not, I don't really take the time I need.  I don't feel like I deserve time to myself.  Time where I can just sit and drink tea and read a book without worrying about who else is around or what else I should be doing.  Time to relax and recuperate and rejuvenate myself so that I can keep on being the duty-fulfiller.  Nine times out of ten I will choose to fulfill a duty rather than meet my own needs . . . and that tenth time?  That only happens with support from my husband and closest friends and an active fight against my ISTJ.  But I know it's necessary.  Otherwise I won't be able to fulfill my duties because I'll be a burnt-out, overly-extroverted witch.

A major source of anxiety for me is NOT being able to control all aspects of my life.  I've gotten a LOT better at being able to just let go and go with the flow . . . people in my life can largely thank my husband for that growth development.  When I was younger, my mother stopped telling me the plans because if they changed just the slightest, I'd basically have a meltdown.  When I grew up, I was meticulous about being on time and controlling my life.  That worked out well enough when I was in college since it was just me.  Not so well once I started working for people who have rather last-minute schedules and a lackadaisical approach to life.  So I had to learn how to go with the flow.  I'm nowhere near close to perfect, but I deal a lot better with last minute changes now than I did a few years ago.  Even now, our plans for the next week are completely up in the air, and I'm pretty much ok with it.

I know that life is messy, and that I can't control everything and everyone in it.  All I can control is myself, what affects me, and how I respond to people and situations.  Granted, I'm still struggling with getting rid of the anxiety - although thankfully it's only gotten really bad a few times.

Which leads me to the reason for this post.  Again, it's a quote from The Divine Intimacy.  

Jesus chided Martha, not because she gave herself to activity, but because she was too anxious about it. . . . As soon as a soul perceives that it is beginning to lose its interior calm, it should interrupt its work, if possible, at least for an instant, and retire into its interior with God. 
 21. Seeking God in Activity, The Divine Intimacy

This passage spoke so clearly to me - as I struggle this week with anxiety.  I need to go about my activity as best I can, but give all the anxiety to God.  Trust Him to handle it.  To take away the hurt and to protect me.  I know it's not easy to remember to turn to God, especially if we are not in the habit.  And believe you me, it's not been easy for myself either (still working on this one).  But the thought that even a moment's prayer to God, retiring to my interior calm with Him, can help the anxiety is comforting.  Help me, Lord, to stop and turn to You in moments of anxiety - to stop and place my worries and anxiety and frustration in Your hands and in perspective.

To all of you who may have anxiety normally, or who just get it around the holidays, pray and stay strong and faithful in the knowledge that God is watching out for you.  Merry Christmas!

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