Here I am at 33 years old and one of my biggest issues in life has been my inability to let go of control and let go of the worry and anxiety that encompasses my life — specifically when it pertains to my role as a mother. I am not sure when it started exactly, but I do come from a family of worriers and highly sensitive people. Whether true or not, there are plenty of studies out there that it can be hereditary. Regardless, my worry and anxiety has progressively gotten worse as I have gotten older and journeyed through life, especially when I entered the realms of motherhood and my life spiraled out of my control. (You can get the details of my journey in this post.)
My life spiraled “out of my control….” That’s it — the very aspect that breeds my sin of worry.
Mothering another human being sure brings to the surface that we are out of control. From the first time your baby is sick, you try every remedy possible to ease the sickness, but really you’re not ultimately in control. Yes, we can make choices to help alleviate symptoms, but our healing hands do not perform miracles! How far do we take those choices or feel they are the end-all be-all. For me, that is what breeds my worry, anxiety, and the false idea that the choices I make day in and day out are the end-all be-all and that I am ultimately in control.
On a larger scale, I was humbled very quickly when the survival of my baby depended on a team of professionals and I had very little to aid in his early years on this planet. On a smaller scale, I was relinquished of all control with the simple act of potty training. Am I the only mother who was the one crying and not my toddler? I was on my knees praying by day two, completely out of control, and I prepared for three weeks (no joke) longer than any college exam just to potty train my kid and realize I was not in control. Talk about a humbling experience! Why is going off to Kindergarten so hard for so many mothers? We have lost some control and time with our babies and have to TRUST their safety in a broken world. We are not in control of the far-off future and no prep or planning can prevent life from happening.
When the reality of God’s will didn’t line up with mine and the expectations that I had for my life is when worry and anxiety took over. It continues to take over when I look at the expectations of society and what it tells me I should be versus what I was created to be. Combine heredity and expectations along with demands and choices we must make in motherhood which can ultimately lead us straight to an award winning worrier, not a warrior, if we do not armor up. What I have learned is simply to “live in the moment.” This is likely a foreign language for those that struggle with anxiety, OCD, worry, or control.
I can’t control tomorrow, but I can control how I feel and how I react in the moment.
My hopes and prayers as I mature are to grow into a steadfast warrior, not a worrier, by making choices that are Spirit-led. To be secure in saying no to prideful demands of society and say yes to opportunities that use my strengths for good. I have missed out on the joy of watching my son grow up, missed out on all the little blessings in my marriage, along with many other joyful things in life. I continually miss out on peace and comfort because my control freak tendencies take over and I want to protect and predict the unpredictable of LIFE.
I am a planner. One that takes every detail of life and has an agenda and a calendar for it, even to the point of Excel spreadsheets. I will not bore you with this craziness! While it is one of my gifts to be organized and have the heart of a girl scout to always be prepared, I take it way too far by thinking one misstep in life will affect my life or someone else’s life in a negative way forever.
I am done!
The last few years have been a turning point for me through counseling, Bible study, sermons, amazing friends, lifestyle changes, and just looking at one day at a time. “Live in the moment” and don’t focus on what could happen in six months. While I am still very much a planner and organizer of the future, I am trying to be mindful each day and live that day first by making mindful choices. I still have quite a bit of work to do but am certainly making my way to becoming that warrior.
Matthew 6:34: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Some things I have learned along the way:
- Be Honest with Yourself: No one is perfect, and we all struggle. You have to be honest with yourself and be transparent that you struggle and want to get help for a better YOU. No superwomen allowed! They don’t exist, so don’t lose sight of you trying to be one — it will never be accomplished. Don’t let pride take over and pretend everything is okay, because it will not fix itself. Maybe it’s just writing in a journal to start and identifying those emotions, and if you have a trusted friend then share your heart and be transparent. I personally needed more help than a listening ear, so a professional third party was the best route for me… which leads me to Number 2.
- Talk with Someone: Whether it’s anxiety, worry, or just a feeling that you feel lost, please just talk with a professional. Sometimes communication and identifying what exactly you are struggling with is the key to overcoming the battle. Have the courage to seek someone who has a heart to care for you. In the Des Moines area, Dr. Heidi Warner, Counseling and Consulting is an amazing resource who has helped so many mothers and families in the area. Also, Pine Rest is great avenue with great professionals who can help get you started.
- Mental Health: However you find peace, whether spiritual, posting verses, buying T-shirts that remind you to “Live in the moment” (yes, I have one!), or just going to your happy place, then make time for it to help train and renew your mind.
- Medicine: I am a firm believer that diet and exercise can do wonders for your mind and body, and there are so many natural ways to help your mind by focusing on your gut and digestive systems (that in itself is a post!). But there are also times when it’s not enough. Please don’t disregard the benefits of medicine if you and a professional agree it may help. Please have the courage and know that you are not any less of a person if your body requires it. Here is another encouraging post published last year by Des Moines Moms Blog and another look at how it helped another mama. It’s no different than if you have cancer and have to go on medicine. We all have heard the stigma that depression is over-diagnosed and over-medicated, but it can also lead to death if left untreated; and even more studies show it can be observed and sensed by your children, forming their personalities as well. So please be wise and weigh all the options for you as an individual.
I hope if you are also struggling with anxiety and worry that you find rest and have the courage to seek help and let the beautiful you shine!