Diagnosis: Panic

panic

The phone rings. The phone doesn’t ring. The news is not what you expect. The news is what you do expect. Our hearts race, mouths go dry, every heart beat is amplified in our ears. Fear. Fight or flight. Sheer panic sets in. This is an all too frequent condition that I deal with. Panic. Even seeing the word provokes what it means to me.

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Can I tattoo this on my forehead? Who’s with me? So, when I feel attacked or misunderstood, don’t panic. When my manager wants to “talk”, don’t panic. When the doctor arrives who seems hell-bent on criticizing me, don’t panic. When my daughters come home with news about something, anything at their dad’s house, don’t panic. When he refuses something seemingly ridiculous, don’t panic. When my plans fall through. When I can’t be two places at once. When I don’t get the reaction I want or expect. When it takes me two hours to get to work because of traffic, don’t panic. When these things happen, my first instincts and emotions go haywire. I want to yell and scream…”It’s NOT RIGHT!!” But, that won’t change any of it whatsoever. What will? Who can?

Although, my heart may pound and my mouth feel parched, my knees will hit the ground. My heart will cry out for relief. For guidance and the self control necessary to prevent the tidal wave of emotions crashing all around me from taking me down along with the ones I love. And, I will let the tears fall when they come. Tears are safe. Tears are cleansing. Tears are proof that we are alive. Because, life is hard and seems extremely unfair sometimes. Only with God’s perspective can we trust that the hard stuff is not because of His lack of love, but rather to draw us closer to Him. The closer the better.

I can’t make people do things. I can’t make people not do things. I can’t defend a misunderstanding if someone is convinced otherwise. I can’t change people’s minds. I can’t make someone care if they don’t. I can only pray and ask for the help that He promises me.

I still struggle with anxiety and panic, but I know the best prescription for this diagnosis is written in Isaiah 41:10. So, today I will take my medicine. My Ultimate chill pill. And, another one tomorrow….My guess is I need it every day.

Midlife Press

bored

I will turn 39 this year…The more mid life I get, the more I’m convinced these all too common midlife crises are stemmed from sheer boredom. Ruts, routines.

I’ve been in the same career for 16 years. Been at the same company for 12. It gets boring. So much so, that I can be busy and bored at the exact same time. Sometimes our comfort zones can get so comfortable they start to feel uncomfortable. I’m more convinced than ever that idle hands (and minds) are the devil’s workshop. Let’s be aware that we can be busy as heck raising kids, working full time, holding down relationships and marriages, entertaining friends and still get bored. It’s a restless heart syndrome. And, this doesn’t make us bad. It makes us human.

Last week my daughter was talking about how bored she was. She’s 9. She said “Mom, we do the same things! Morning and night. And, school! It’s boring too.” She said the same thing at church last weekend. “How BORING!!” She was in a rut. I knew exactly where she was coming from, but couldn’t help but lean over and say, “Trust me honey, this is the MOST exciting thing you’ll hear….ever.” I still got an eye roll. The sermon was about the second coming of Jesus. Is there ANYTHING more exciting than that? No. I say bring it.

We look for the next exciting thing. We yearn for a vacation, a new friend, anything to break the monotony. Newness. We crave a challenge. Something, anything to ease the day in, day out, same thing, every day. This boredom and desire for excitement and adrenaline can easily lead to some very poor choices with a devastating ripple effect. We need to be aware of what’s going on. Are we just bored?

What if we leaned into rather than away from what our souls crave the most? What if we leaned into our calling? Asked God what it is? Dug into our passions? Filled our minds with all that is good? Poured into someone’s life? Asked God how to serve Him more? Love the people in our lives better? Learn how….There is always something to learn.

How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. Proverbs 16:16 (ESV)

How about rather than twist off, we twist on and dig in to what and Who really makes us tick. Ask Him how to jump start the rut we feel. Follow our passions. Step out. There is excitement and fear in that. And, that’s just the right combo of emotions for a good mid life press that just might better us and the world around us rather than leave a destructive wake. Can we spice things up in a positive way? Recognize it for what it is and be more aware of what we are looking to in order to change things up a bit?

We have individual interests and passions for a reason. What exhilarates you in a positive way? Do more of that. You may have stumbled upon your gift. When the routines of life leave us bored and restless, let’s press in rather than peel out.

Supper Club

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I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker called “For the Love”. In it, she talks about how getting together face to face gets harder and harder as we all get married, raise kids, separate, reconnect….just life. But, it’s important. So, her idea was to start a Supper Club. In her book, they get babysitters and make fancy food. Each home would rotate the sole responsibility of hosting and the others could just come and enjoy. I, on the other hand,  thought it would be a great idea to set up a “Supper Club with Kids”. A few friends with kids of similar ages. A few friends who would like to connect without struggling to find a sitter. Oh, and everyone bring something! So, I planned.

There are few things I enjoy more than hosting friends. The kids were excited and so was I. I was energized and all smiles buying groceries, practically skipping down the aisles at the store, picking out ingredients for new hamburger and black bean burger recipes. I straightened up the house and had the music up loud anticipating my house FULL of friends and their beloved littles. My “master plan” was that the kids would entertain themselves while us grown-ups could talk and play games.

By 6:30, I had 13 kids and 8 adults at my house. Within the first hour, we had a hair catastrophe that led to 2 hours of trying to untangle, a clogged toilet, a rug that was ruined by nail polish, a teething toddler in tears, a broken scooter, and a broken toy golf club.

To quote Will Smith in Hitch, “I saw that going differently in my mind”, nailed it.

I went to bed frustrated and sad that my plan had been thwarted. But, I woke up thankful for grace. Thankful that we can see now more than ever that we are all in this parenting thing together. That even when our big plans turn into pipe dreams, there is love and understanding and togetherness. Even if our togetherness just increases our sympathy for one another, the togetherness is worth it. With all that, do you know what the kids said first thing this morning? “When can we do that again? That was so fun!” Of course, they did.

One of our dear friends and mentors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently. The news broke yesterday. We all discussed it last night and feel heartbroken for her and her family. She’s much too young and loved and respected and….there is just no good explanation. As is so true for way too many heartaches in this world. The sad news breaking made me even more grateful to be getting together with friends. You really do never know what will happen tomorrow. Who it will happen to. Or, when your own time on this earth is up.

So….let’s love today. Let’s laugh when we can. Let’s get together when we can. Let’s engage in each other’s lives. Let’s welcome new people. Let’s reconnect with old friends. Let’s encourage each other as parents. It makes me even more eager for the “Ultimate Supper Club” in heaven. Where there will be no more sad news, tangled hair, painful gums, broken toys, or plumbing issues whatsoever. Just the joy and relief of togetherness. Forever.