Saturday, December 21, 2013
I have been having a hard time lately. And throughout my life, I have had hard times. I know that compared to some people, I have lived a very lucky life. But there are some facts that need to be faced. I have always struggled to fit in. I have faced bullying and violence and hurt. I have depression and anxiety, diagnosed by doctors, that are not going away (though some days are better than others.) My hard times are easy compared to some, but they are still pretty hard. My anxiety is intense enough that I have had some periods of agoraphobia in my lifetime (where I was afraid to leave the house, or being away from home triggered panic attacks.) Anxiety controls people's lives. There are folks who can't function without high doses of medication and therapy. There are some people who do all their shopping from home, even having their groceries delivered, because they can't handle what's outside their front doors. There are some people that will never go on an airplane because the fear is too paralyzing. These are not exaggerations for dramatic effect, they are the realities that people are living. And those people will find no judgment here, because I have been there myself (and there's always the chance I may end up there again.) I'm happy to report that I don't need everyday medication at this point in my life (but I have in the past.) And I have learned a lot of ways to deal with the challenges I face, and ways to cope. But just because I am not, at this moment, taking daily medication for my issues, does not mean that they aren't still there. Every day is a struggle for me. Each day, from the moment I get out of bed (or sometimes when it is still dark and I'm trying to sleep) to the time I step outside my house to run errands or go to work or whatever needs to be done, I face a battle. That's truly what it is- a battle. And it's a battle I am determined to win. Sometimes I'll be out shopping and be hit with a panic attack that requires me to pull out every trick I have in facing this menace called panic. I take my "as needed" meds. I listen to my panic playlist on my iPod shuffle. I read my Bible verses. I text my mom asking her to pray, and telling her what's going on. She assures me that she's praying, and then will tell me to go home. I don't have to make this shopping trip right now. I have sick time; I can go home from work. Whatever the scenario, I have a way out. But I refuse to take it. I refuse to let my fear win. I refuse to feel helpless and lost, and I keep going, and I fight my way through it.
Poverty- the pervasive, overwhelming poverty that my sponsor children are living in- can bring on a lot of the same feelings that anxiety and depression do. Poverty can make you feel worthless and unloved, like depression. Poverty can make you feel lost and helpless, like anxiety. It can make you feel like you have no way out. You will be trapped forever. Those are all lies. I sometimes struggle with the decision to share these tough things about my life with my kids. I have only told a few about my anxiety disorder, explaining that sometimes I feel very afraid for no reason at all, and that this is because of a difference in my brain. But I rely on Jesus to keep me safe and make me feel better, and I share some of my favorite verses with them. I tell them that because Jesus is on our side, we shouldn't be afraid or worry. And if we do worry, He will be there to comfort us. He keeps track of every tear we cry. He knows what we need to pray about even when we are too sad to say the words out loud. He will always be there for us, even when it feels like we are completely alone.
I want my kids to know that even when life feels very dark, there is hope, and we can fight the darkness because of the hope we have in Jesus. I may not know what it's like to live in poverty the way they do, and they may not know what it's like to be afraid every day, the way I do. But I hope that they can hear my stories and my struggles and realize that they can fight back, too. They don't have to let the darkness win. I am an overcomer, and they are too. Each and every one of them.