***Originally written in July of 2022

I can let life become overwhelming. Anxiety is something I have suffered with for many, many years. Recently, it has kicked into high gear. Those of you reading this that know me or see me on a regular basis may never even realize just how bad it can get. I rarely let it show. But, this past week, the animal that my anxiety is really gnashed its teeth into me! I was lashing out at anyone within earshot. It is NEVER personal, it is a game my subconscious plays with me, or the enemy uses to try and defeat me. There was a lot going on with us moving into the new house, our contractor not being able to finish, or making up an excuse not to be on our property, preparing for VBS (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE VBS week, but it’s a busy one), trying to be home for appliances to arrive…all the things I could list are just an excuse really. I was feeling completely out of control. At my age a lot of what I am feeling is hormone driven. Things are slowing down so an imbalance is kicking my tail! A year and a half ago I decided I had had enough of feeling this way; heart beating out of my chest, resting heart rate through the roof, not sleeping, difficulty concentrating, body always tense, daily drinking to cope. I sought help from my nurse practitioner. I was taken to the exam room by her medical assistant, and I explained I didn’t really want to be there, so if I were left in the room too long, I just may leave. I had a stomachache, my palms were sweaty, I was a disaster! Once she came into the room to talk to me, I was about to burst into tears. Then she sat knee to knee with me and looked me dead in the eyes and said, “you are not alone, you are not crazy, and I can help you”. This should have sounded a relief bell to go off in my mind, however I still needed convincing. She brought up the idea of taking medication. I am in the “the power that made the body heals the body” camp, so taking medication that was not natural, to me was a scary thought. Though I know that they are researched, tried and tested and designed by very knowledgeable drug chemists, it is still a foreign substance. I agreed to try something on a temporary basis. It has been a year and a half, and I know for a fact it works for me. How you ask…. the fact that all the stimuli deeply affected me because I had neglected to take said medication for four days. I had done the damage to myself. Now to bring this all to peace.

In Ephesians chapter 4 the apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus himself gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip each of us on how to live and serve one another, building us up until we reach unity in the body (the church). (From Ephesians 4:10-13) I would like to believe that also includes doctors, nurses and anyone else in any type medical/mental health position, making them capable of helping to make us physically and mentally well.

I truly believe that if I had not gone to see my nurse practitioner when I did, I may have found myself in the hospital. Anxiety is a scary place to live. Being emotionally and mentally out of control is an experience I don’t wish on anyone. I also believe that Jesus would not want YOU to stay in that place. If this is you, please pray about how you should seek help, where you should seek help. I am not an advocate for taking medication for the sake of taking medication. I am for a healthy mind, body and soul. To be spiritually well is to be whole. But if you suffer from any type of mental illness no matter how small, feeling spiritually well can seem like a far-off concept. Hearing folks around me saying things like “but your life has so much good in it right now, why do you feel this way?”, that does not help! Praying for someone in this state of mind is a much better approach than pointing out why YOU think THEY should not be feeling the way they feel. We cannot tell someone how they ought to feel. WE can however support their decision to seek help. And prayerfully encourage them that the Lord loves them and cares for them. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24

My prayer for anyone reading this, is that you see that seeking help for yourself is not a sin. Self-care has been so polarized in the media, social media and in the retail world. But self-care is vital to our overall well-being. It doesn’t have to be selfish. It doesn’t have to have a negative undertone. It doesn’t mean you are being self-centered. However, it is difficult to be Christ-centered when the enemy of your spiritual welfare is you! Be well my friends. Seek help if you need it. From your pastor, from your doctor, from a friend.

Carol Frear
Administrative Assistant
Life Church Vineyard