Don’t tell me when I’m Grievin’ This Happened for a Reason

(Not right now–Jason Gray)

The title has almost nothing to do with this post…it is just a lyric from a song I heard on the radio recently and have not stopped listening to since…oh my, such a good song!! (The link goes to the story behind the song–so powerful).

So if you’ve read my older posts you know the part of my story where I realized last winter that I had essentially re-written my belief system to accommodate my fear, and you also know that God has helped me conquer my fear…and so it was time to honor God’s command to be baptized, and I did that today.

…And I almost cancelled it on Friday because I was having a really rough day…I wasn’t feeling anxiety, but I was feeling an overwhelming level of stress and frustration and was about to throw in the towel and give up because I felt like even just the extra half hour commitment was going to make me fail my classes and my track record this semester hasn’t been so good on the grades front, and things outside of grades just weren’t going so well…basically, there is one person at school it is hard for me to be around and I pushed myself not to flee when I saw her, and shortly after she and I parted ways I made a phone call that ended in a way that frustrated me and the cumulative stress just really got to me and I was a mess for a while…let’s just say it was a Really Good Thing I had plenty of spice drops with me because I was crashing and needed a sugar boost…

So yeah, I didn’t cancel and today was going reasonably better…except I probably should have known that self-care might be kind of important especially considering that I was still vulnerable from the previous day…So yeah, I opted not to eat dinner before going to church…I know for sure that doing that can induce panic attacks, so I suppose it is not too far of a stretch to assume it can also cause anxiety attacks, and for the first time in months I started feeling some very real anxiety…and after almost no anxiety for a while, feeling a 3.2ish (out of 10) feels awful…So yeah I stopped by Walgreens to buy more spice drops, except they didn’t have any and I had to convince myself to buy orange slices instead because I didn’t feel like I deserved that. Spice drops are good and have sugar so they are fine for taking the edge off when I am struggling, but it doesn’t feel right to me to have something I would look forward to so much for that purpose–why should I reward myself for not being able to handle my own emotions? It made sense to binge on skittles when I was fighting severe anxiety every day and needed it to be functional, but at this point the candy is more of an emergency backup than a lifeline…I got to church and was up to like a 4.1 which kind of showed when I struggled to walk in and give my name…the friendly assertive version of me was gone…I usually want an option to speak for myself before I let someone else talk for me, but in this case I was so relieved when the pastor said that if they had people introducing themselves and telling their stories that he would do it for me…I knew that there was a pretty good chance I was going to be really fighting to get the words out of my mouth if I had to do it, and the feeling of shame that follows would be intensified with it happening in front of so many people…

So yeah, then after all the times I practiced the routine inside my head, there was a change…I don’t do change well…I found out that there would be no communion…and I also made a new friend, because the person who told me could tell I was scared and she sat down next to me and talked to me for a few minutes…so yeah, at 5:44 I left to change clothes, and then as soon as I was alone sat down in the lobby and rocked myself until my ankles were sore then stood up and walked around and sat down again…I was now around a 5.5 and was really ready to escape…and my new friend saw me and sat down with me and prayed with and encouraged me…she was such a blessing. I am so thankful that unlike MRH who would back off and seem kind of intimidated by my fear that this person could recognize my fear and was not afraid to meet me right there in the fear. So yeah, the sermon ended and we went back in for baptism. As I stood there waiting I was up to a 7 and holding back tears. I really wanted to smile at the little girl standing next to me and be able to be friendly with her, but it was all I could do to just take care of myself…and I did it!! It was a little awkward because it didn’t occur to me at a time I had words that it might be a problem that I don’t see much more than light and dark without my glasses and had a series of stairs to go up and down and was already kind of uncoordinated from anxiety, but I made it! I chewed on my towel to calm down afterwards, but by the time I had changed clothes the anxiety was completely gone…until after the service when everyone wanted to talk to me at the same time…I felt surrounded and overwhelmed…once we got outside though I was fine…and some donuts and then getting some real food in my body was super helpful…I feel exhausted and I don’t know how I made it for so long living with that anxiety 24/7, but other than that I feel fine now, and am really glad I was finally able to do this! I probably need to be careful for a day or two instead of challenging myself to do hard things so that I don’t give the anxiety an opportunity to become a regular cast member in my life again, but I am so excited that even after reaching a 7 that I am pretty certain that I can remain free from the anxiety. That is a testament to the redeeming power of my Savior’s grace.

Here are some pictures…pardon the blurriness…my old camera is in a different state than me, my new camera opted not to turn on, and my old phone which takes really awesome pictures was safely at my apartment where it wouldn’t accidentally get used which left only my new phone to get pictures with…

Me getting baptized
Me getting baptized
Me and my new friend helping me not kill myself walking down the stairs...
Me and my new friend helping me not kill myself walking down the stairs…
Haha...I am only including this one to show how awkward I am...arms out to catch falls in case of estimating incorrectly where the steps are...
Haha…I am only including this one to show how awkward I am…arms out to catch falls in case of estimating incorrectly where the steps are…

So yeah, if you haven’t read my old posts I thought I’d add here some of my story…This is copied from my baptism registration which I wrote in word and copied there…so I think I caught the most important multiple re-format absurdities, but if anything seems wonky still, that’s why 🙂

For me the life changing process started in preschool. I did something I was not supposed to, and from my early Sunday school lessons I knew verses such as Romans 3:23 for all have sinned, and Romans 6:23 for the wages of sin is death. These verses weighed heavy on my preschool mind, and I thought, “I am going to hell.” This was when I asked God into my heart for the first time. I thought at that time that every time I sinned God abandoned me, and I had to ask him to return. This caused me to reconfirm my faith often. It was not until second grade I really understood that God abided with me even when I messed up; Matthew 28:20 I am with you always even to the end of the age. This was when I stopped the constant reconfirming. God has continued since that point to work in my life to make me who I am now, and I have grown much in my faith. Once I claimed God’s love and mercy for myself, I was filled with a passion to let others feel it too. When I was in third grade, one of my friends started coming to church and AWANA with me and near the end of the year accepted Christ. That amazing experience has given me confidence that God can work through anyone to win people to his kingdom Acts 1:8 when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere. God has taught me many things through the years. One particularly pivotal discovery was that if I asked God for something he would always listen and, if it were something that would be beneficial for me, would grant me my request, James 5:16 the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. This exhibited to me the enormous value of prayer, and commenced my obsession with prayer. Another revelation I have received gives me an abundance of courage. This was that God would get me through any situation I was in no matter how difficult, Philippians 4:13 I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. Knowing this helps me to not become so overwhelmed and discouraged when things are difficult. Similarly, God has reminded me of his promise that Romans 8:28 all things work together for good, for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. This has been of great comfort when I feel that something is hopeless and there is no possible good that could come of it. It assures me that even in the most desperate situations there is always hope because God always has a plan for it to work for good in his plan. This gives me much courage. However, he has also shown me that it is okay to express it to him when life does seem hopeless: Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; Instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Through everything I have been through in life, God has shown me that he does not just accept me; He wants me. He does not look at me and say “oops,” but rather looks past my imperfection to see the child he loves. Isaiah 41:9 I have called you back from the ends of the Earth so you can serve me. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. My eternal Daddy didn’t die so that my life on Earth would be rainbows and daisies; He died so that I could bring him glory and live with him for eternity.

The Gospel is the Good News! It tells us that although we are dirty wicked sinners who deserve nothing more than pain, death, and suffering, in eternal separation from our maker, that God loved us enough to send his only son to suffer and die in our place. They didn’t take his life; He laid it down so that we could become his sons and daughters and live with him in heaven one day. The gospel says that my glory is that I am nothing but God is awesome. The Gospel is the ultimate example of grace; My sin killed God’s son, yet he forgives me and calls me his child.

I grew up mainly in an E. Free church which is Swedish Baptist (I am not Swedish though), and now my family attends a Baptist church. Based on that history it may be surprising to hear that I have not been baptized. It is not that I don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather, there have been obstacles. When I was around eight years old I decided that on my birthday I wanted to go to a baptism class, so my brothers and I went to my church’s baptism class. My brothers ended up getting baptized, but there was a new thing that people had to share their story with the church in order to get baptized and I was not willing to do that, was no longer interested, and ended up not getting baptized. As the years went by I felt like I was too old to get baptized anymore–I saw it as something for kids and for people who had turned away from faith and just recently come back. As I got a little older I realized that was not the case, but I was still terrified of being in front of people…and it didn’t help that my family had switched to a new church that was a lot larger than the old one we had been attending. I attended another baptism class, but I never got baptized. At some point I was so terrified about getting baptized that I convinced myself that I didn’t really need it, but I felt like people were pressuring me to do it. As I started feeling more pressured to do it I still resisted, but to reconcile the pressure I was feeling from people with my refusal, I claimed that I didn’t believe in a God who was so picky about where I get wet that if I didn’t do it at church that was a problem, and if the goal is an outward display of faith then that is dumb because as a Christian I should already be living in such a way that Christ lives through me, and if God can save people who die minutes after they believe in him, then certainly he can save me without ever being baptized no big deal…I really thought I fully believed this and really believed that baptism was completely pointless, and I guess I really did…but then last winter when because of the weather baptism happened two weeks in a row, I knew was God’s way of telling me it was time to conquer my fear and do this–but I couldn’t. Sitting in church that night I realized that I had essentially re-written my belief system to accommodate my fear. I am all for accommodations while in crisis to make life live-able, but outside of a crisis situation I HATE when I feel like I am being pulled around by my fear and having to accommodate the fear into every decision that I make. That really opened my eyes to the way that anxiety had come between God and I. I really knew that I needed to finally be baptized, but the idea of being in front of everyone was terrifying, and I struggled so much with germs that the idea of being exposed to the water was also completely debilitating. Over the past few months, God has helped me finish conquering the anxiety that once ruled my life. I am still not a fan of being in front of people–that is just not my personality–but to show everyone that this is not me and my strength, but God and his power working through me, I know that it is way past time for me to take this next step and be baptized. God has done amazing work in my life, and the least I can do is follow his command to be baptized.

And a disclaimer: I do recognize that my relationship with my new friend is completely different than my relationship with my former counselor MRH ever necessarily should have been…I didn’t mean to imply that MRH should have acted as my friend…

Also, I kinda forgot shorts to change into but didn’t want to admit that yesterday…so for the first time in ever as far as I can remember I wore a dress/skirt without any shorts/pants on underneath…and it felt really awkward and limiting…haha oh, and the first words of the sermon this week were “We deeply yearn to communicate with other people…At the very core of who we are we are communicators because we were created by a God who speaks.” I definitely know that feeling of really WANTING to be able to speak but the words not coming…inside my head feels the same way that the kids looked in the selective mutism videos I watched a few years ago when the kids were pressured to speak (I desire so much to speak but am paralyzed and feel like frustrated that I can’t do it and the added pressure of being in a situation where I should speak is embarrassing and produces shame)…I am so glad I no longer live there and am pretty sure that the anxiety I felt was an isolated incident and not a sign that things are going wrong…If the anxiety hung around past the instigating event or if it occurred at every possible trigger or started occurring more often I might see it differently, but since it was confined to a single situation and promptly ended when the situation ended (so definitely without a multiple hour period to get back to baseline which in the past was like a 3 or so anyway, but now is essentially a 0), I am pretty sure it was a fluke, just a product of vulnerability, lack of self-care, and a stressful event…I might not usually be fighting anxiety anymore, but my personality still places me away from the center of attention…taking away my fear let my bubbly and sarcastic personality show through more often, but it didn’t turn me into someone I never was before, and I don’t think anyone would have expected it to make me a different person…I am what I am and that’s all that I am (please please like me–Go Fish)…

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