COVID Journey Day 18

Dear anxious soul,

Yesterday was my first full day out of COVID quarantine. It did not go as planned.

Somehow I got it in my mind this momentous day would be a complete return to normal. No symptoms. No headaches, dizziness, fatigue, coughing, etc. I was wrong. My first day out was not the first day feeling 100%. 

And that's OK.

What is NOT OK is having a restless night like I had last night. It’s making today tough. Ugh. 

My first mistake was I forgot to take some sleep medicine. Then I was startled awake less than two hours later by a severely congested nose. My body was nice enough to use electro-shock paddles so it could give me its thoughts on suffocating. Yet I remained surprisingly calm. I’ve been here before. I successfully talked myself out of an anxiety cycle (win!) and then used my Netipot before climbing back into bed. This was mistake number two. 

I rolled over and it started happening, Drainage like you wouldn't believe. Constant. I told myself it was just left over saline from my Netipot. But the damage to my psyche was done. A new unnerving symptom had appeared. What was going on in there? What fresh COVID-hell is being unleashed? Did my brain pan spring a leak? My heart started racing. I could feel it in my chest and hear it in my ears. Now I cannot sleep. Got up. My head was throbbing. My balance was waaaaay off. More symptoms get added to the already-toppling apple cart of my constitution (loss!). Why this? Why now? I was doing so well!

As you already know, our anxiety is like a wheel rolling downhill, collecting speed and chaos all the way down. Stopping it begins not by trying to steer it, nor by slamming it into reverse, but rather by reducing the grade of the slope. This means SLOWING DOWN EVERYTHING IN ME. Wheels without hills don’t have as much to work with. They slow to a crawl by the necessity of physics. Likewise, my racing heart and mind are stilled when I somehow rejoice in the Lord, and believe He hears my cries. Then comes the peace that surpasses all understanding, even my own. Guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Over the past two weeks, I've learned better how to slow down when this crap starts up. I take a very slow walk. I focus on deep, deliberate breathing. I pray. And over the past two weeks, these truths have re-emerged when crying out to God:

1. I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to fear.

2. When I am not, Satan is more than willing to play the role. He is a liar, an accuser, and wants me wallowing in despair.

3. God is not Satan. He can be trusted for good regardless of circumstances.

4. My anxiety partly comes from a crisis of authority. Times when I honestly believe God may not be so in charge; the circumstances are greater than He is. Or if He is, then He’s done with me. Or I lose sight of His goodness. Or…etc.

5. These realizations are paradoxical gifts, not shameful thoughts to hide from a vengeful, disappointed God. I can confess my lack of faith in God in faith to God. He in turn forgives, healing this deficit in my spirit by filling it with His Spirit. 

6. That's the point: perfect faith has never arisen from sheer volitional willpower. Only surrender. The garden of Gethsemane was not a display of Jesus rising above the din of his human emotions. Nor did he raise himself from the dead (paradox!). 

These thoughts are almost the whole experience of being a Christian whose anxiety is part of "working out your faith with fear and trembling". It's worth telling others about it. Almost good news, if you will.

So today is probably going to be somewhat off as a result of my sleepless night. I may see another day with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, coughing etc. And if so, that's OK. I'll get through it. Like I have every other day these last two weeks (and before): with the always-available, ever-present help of my Redeemer. 

Just thought you should know there really is a more excellent way to rest easy in an anxious world.

Here’s praying we all sleep well tonight. 

Amen.


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