Like most people I spent my early years worrying about what other people thought. I was always changing myself to fit in wherever I went. I also didn’t like conflict (I still don’t) and was always playing the peacemaker.
I don’t know when it started to dawn on me that everyone didn’t have to like me or agree with me. I didn’t have to work so hard to be everything to everyone. It is exhausting.
I am an only child and when I was young I was more comfortable with adults than people my own age. I think that is one of the things that made me try so hard to fit in. I had very little self confidence around my peers. It wasn’t until I went to college that I started to feel comfortable. I am sure that this did not help my anxiety.
In my teen years my mother was extremely ill and for years there was no diagnosis. Even though I was unaware at the time it fueled my worries about illness.
Now, at my age, I have gained some perspective on how I reflected my environment and didn’t cope well with anxiety and depression. Over the years, a little at a time, I have grown coping skills that make my life so much better. It is a good thing that I did as aging brings so pretty serious issues to cope with.
Some serious episodes with IBSD triggered my panic. Fortunately those were mostly few and far between. I am so grateful that treatment for these issues has progressed so far. When I was young anyone who had panic was said to have had a nervous breakdown. Thank God there is better understanding today. I am hoping that this progress continues until research into how our whole selves work finds answers that remove the stigma from those of us who suffer.
As each person writes about these issues and shares the things that help them our knowledge grows. The community is a blessing.
There have been many amazing people in my life. Some of them as crazy as me. One of my favorites was Lisa the wife of an Episcopal minister. She was raised a Quaker and her way of looking at things was a learning experience for me.
She always had something to say about how to draw closer to God and it was usually profound. She often used the expression “center down” which meant stop, think, and listen for God. She talked about Quaker meetings where members sat in silence and waited for someone to be moved by the Spirit to speak.
She told the story of a Quaker funeral where the man who died was not a nice man. He had been mean and unkind his whole life. At the funeral she attended the people sat quietly until someone had something they wanted to say about the deceased. Apparently the silence went on for a very long time. Finally a man rose to speak and said “He was better than his brother.”
I loved this story. It made me think. What if my funeral were like that. What would people say? Would anyone speak? Has my life had enough meaning? Have I practiced kindness and compassion? Maybe it’s just as well that funerals in my church are not done that way. Maybe that’s why they aren’t!
I will never forget one of her comments which was so powerful that it challenges me daily. She said: “the people we know best are the ones we communicate with the most. How is your communication with God?”
I have often said that anyone who doesn’t like living in the USA should have to live in a third world country for at least a year. We lived in Panama for two and 1/2 years and it made a lasting impression on me. There are so many things that I saw there that changed the way I think.
I appreciate that I can live in a place where the police and the military are not one and the same. I am grateful that my home does not have to be surrounded by walls with wire on top and the only yard is inside the wall. I am glad that the law does not allow me to be arrested and dealt with without trial or any recourse. I am grateful that there still is a semblance of a middle class and not just the very rich and the horribly poor.
While living there I made a car trip across the isthmus from Colon to Panama City. In front of me was a small bus called a “Chiva.” Along the road the Chiva stopped and I stopped behind it to watch a family get in the bus. There were what appeared to be several generations from young children to the elderly. Several men were carrying a small coffin. The bus started up and continued on the road for several miles where it stopped at the entrance to a cemetery. There was a priest waiting at the entrance and the family filed off the bus with the coffin of a child and followed the priest to the burial site.
I was moved to tears by this incident. Just the thought of how this family lived and coped with everyday life was overwhelming. So poor that they had to take a bus with the coffin to bury their child.
We are so blessed with the life we have. I know that there are communities that suffer from poverty and sickness here. That is why, although I can’t help elsewhere, I am called to help where I can.
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
Accessing medicine in the USA has become a nightmare. The questions arises “who is in charge?” There are regulations set out by the government. The insurance companies decide what is allowed. Some people have no access because of cost. Instead of getting better the whole system has turned into a monster.
Doctors offices are busy and usually understaffed. Trying to get a question answered is practically impossible. Individuals are lucky if they see the same physician each visit. I have recently gotten in the car and driven to an office to get a response. This is not unusual. People who have little medical knowledge are lost in a maze that has no way out. There is little communication between doctors and patients can be prescribed medications that can’t be taken with other meds they are on. If they are lucky it is caught by the pharmacy.
Doctors are so specialized that they can’t see the whole patient even if they wanted to. Many of them are having to work under a hospital system with requirements that have nothing to do with patient care. The doctor may not be able to order a test the patient needs due to constraints of cost and insurance strictures.
Today we have the most sophisticated medical information and treatment that the world has ever seen but something has to be done about the systems that control patient care. The complexity is mind boggling and impossible to understand.
We have been brought to this place where so many illnesses can be cured but frustrated by the systems that have a stranglehold on care.
For the last 40 odd years I have been connected to one or the other church home. First it was the Episcopal church I attended with my husband. The people there are wonderful and at that time there was a great minister. Later, after I was working for the Lutherans there was a minister at my husband’s church whose moral core I couldn’t live with so at my husband’s urging I disconnected myself from there.
Then 20 years ago (while still a member of the first church) I was hired by the Lutheran Church as the Parish Nurse. That was the perfect job for me as it married my vocation with my passion. The 20 years I was there I felt at home and completely fulfilled. Since leaving there I have been at a loss. I don’t feel the same at the first church and don’t feel connected to the second since their removal of my position was not done well. I think the powers that be in that church did not get the difference between a ministry and a job. I am sorry and feel that it was their loss.
The bottom line of all of this is that I don’t feel at home in either place. I know that I need to let all of the disappointment with both places go and seek out a place where I do feel at home. It matters greatly to me. For some reason I am reluctant to move forward with this and so don’t often go at all. This is not a solution but I seem to have little motivation to do anything.
Maybe there are times when we just need to sit back and just BE. I may be in one of those eddies where you just spin around and around. I feel connected to God but not to church. I do struggle with this when special seasons of the church hit me in the face. Holy Week is one of them.
It is important to move forward in whatever way will work for me. A period of absence and reflection is not wrong. I just need it not to go on for too long.
This verse seems appropriate.:
On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Psalm 62:7 NRSV
I think this is the first time in 43 years that I missed Palm Sunday. We we away attending my grandson’s wedding on Saturday and also a baby shower for my granddaughter on Sunday morning before returning home. It did feel strange. Usually I am immersed in the progress from Lent through Easter. Now we are in Holy Week and I feel lost. I know that I can attend Maunday Thursday services and Good Friday but it seems different.
It is interesting how we can develop patterns that comfort us. Lately my routine has been completely out of sync and as a result so am I. I am looking forward to getting back to routine. I know that some people hate routine and I was not as fond of it when I was younger but over the years I have learned more and more about enjoying things staying somewhat the same. I know, boring. Maybe not.
I need at least some normal to keep me centered. Recently between my family and my friends nothing has seemed the same. It is one of those times in life when we experience lots of change and have to find a new normal. Time has taught me that eventually these changes will slide themselves into a new routine and maybe it will last a while before it happens again but there are no guarantees.
We are guaranteed that life never stays the same. There will always be change and we have to learn to cope. I frequently use this prayer from Compline in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer:
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I am just back from two days away for the wedding of my grandson and a baby shower for my granddaughter. I have always been aware that when families get together whether for a wedding or a funeral there is always tension. Stress is in the air. In nursing we call this Eustress. (Definition of eustress. : a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being. … during positive stress) The thing they fail to mention in the definition is that stress is stress. Happy occasions cause stress. The reason for the event is good but just put whole families together and the fur can fly. So family gatherings are a combination of eustress and distress. I can, and does, go both ways.
We were blessed that there were very few negative moments but there were a few. Not to mention the stress involved in putting on an event of this kind and two of them within two days. The rushing around was frantic and although my role was minimal (thank goodness) I ended up with anxiety today. I suppose the combination of travel, excitement, some disagreements, business, completing tasks and I can’t think of what else finally got to me this morning with resulting IBSD issues. I received the blessing of support from family who have similar issues. I appreciate their love and understanding without any flap.
I am back home, tired, wrung out but better. Now I can pet my dogs and get the extra love they give and relax.
Those of us who deal with mental health issues can be pushed over the edge by major events. It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad. I was glad to be able to meet the expectations of me without alerting anyone to my stress. Instead I managed to help with the stress of others and crash after it was all over. (My usual defense mechanism.) I am grateful that I usually respond that way. I hope it continues to work for me. Maybe it needs to be named delayed anxiety reaction.
Sorry I have missed blogs over the last few days but will catch up.
Today I am writing random thoughts. I finally finished the baby blanket that obsessed me but I am not happy with the result. Aggravating.
We all have things that we do like that. Something that we tackle with lots of enthusiasm and great expectations and then they don’t turn out. I am disappointed but it is time to let it go and time to find a new idea to work on.
It is so easy to get down after working so hard on something. Someone else might say it is fine but it doesn’t suit me. That’s another problem. My expectations of myself. There is no reason why it has to be perfect. It was done with love.
This is how we get into trouble. It’s not only our expectations of ourselves but sometimes the pressure from others. the point is so do the best that we can.
We don’t need to get caught in the cycle of too much expectation of ourselves and then disappointment. We must not get caught by the unreasonable expectations of others.
Putting our all into something is enough.
Tonight I am just plain tired. I woke up at 5:00 and couldn’t go back to sleep. You know how it is. You wake and think of something that you need to check on but you don’t want to get up and do it. You keep hoping that you will fall asleep but that thought just keeps nagging at your brain. It was a question that could be answered by looking at my calendar on the computer. I knew if I got up and did that it would wake the dogs who would be delighted to have someone up, bark, wag tails, want to go out and wake up the neighborhood. Not a good idea. So I fought the urge and finally dozed off about the time I needed to get up.
How often we do this kind of thing. Once the mind starts working on something it is really hard to let go. It can drive us crazy until we give in. Usually it’s nothing that is really important but just nagging.
Our brains are funny things. They can cause us to obsess about something. We can wring out our brains until we pull ourselves into a state. That is what happens with depression and anxiety. We just can’t let go of the idea. When we are like this we have to find something to distract us from that obsessive cycle. For me it’s usually TV or listening to a book. The minute I stop I can go right back to ruminating again. Just like a cow chewing a cud. I struggle with breaking that habit but am better than I used to be.
If you are suffering from obsessive thinking try and find the thing that will break the cycle. Keep trying until you find something. Don’t give up.
Today as I sat in church I was struck by the thought “don’t let religion divide us.” I am not sure why that came to me so strongly but there it was and it kept repeating itself until it was rooted in my mind.
There have been wars about territory, water rights, expansion of empires, money and whatever else. There have also been wars over religion. The middle east (or the fertile crescent) has changed hands so many times. Mostly is has been about territory but religion was involved. The fertile crescent had many different religions over the centuries but the Jewish worship of one god persisted.
As Christianity grew it encountered other faiths and prevailed over most of the ones in Europe. A form of the Jewish faith moved south and morphed into Islam with Mohammad.
During the middle ages Christianity and Islam battled in Spain and the Holy Land. The crusades were launched to recover the Holy Land. Many died in this conflict.
Later Christianity became obsessed with itself and the Inquisition had many innocents slaughtered in the name of religion.
Conflict rose again with the protestant reformation and Catholic and reform groups both suffered.
Religion has added prejudices to the ones about skin color, nationality, and anything that makes someone “other.” Now there is much disagreement among Christian denominations.
If we add the widening influence to other cultures and their faiths: Buddhism, Hinduism and many others we now have a world with religions bumping into each other everywhere.
I think all of this leads me back to my original thought. Do not let religion divide us. It already has with Islamic extremists planning death to “infidels,” fighting between India and Pakistan and conflict almost everywhere.
I love the God that I believe in and I don’t think that his/her intention is for us to slaughter each others over our faith. Instead we are called to love everyone. We are told to turn the other cheek. We are not told to murder others because of their beliefs. God is greater than us and his plan is beyond our understanding. Please Lord, help us not to kill each other over religion.