I have to apologize that I have not been on a regular writing schedule, but things have been a bit hectic around here and I am not seeing an end in sight anytime soon. So be patient with me. I promise to get back to my regular routine at some point, but not sure how soon that will be. Speaking of hectic, the amount of rain that the Midwest as seen in the last couple weeks is reaching somewhere around 8-10 inches. It has been crazy! In one night we received around 4 inches of rain water and let me tell you – that creek in our new backyard rose higher than I ever want to see again. I was never fearful that it would reach the house – because our house sits at quite a distance from the creek, but I certainly was not crazy about the water table in our yard rising much more. That first hard rainfall/thunderstorm that comes when you are in a new location, unfamiliar house, and new terrain makes you a teensy bit nervous. As the rain and thunder continued to pummel our house, I couldn’t help but have a sense of dread. I just knew something was going to happen. I started the “what if” game that I love to play. Pete was at a meeting, so he wouldn’t be arriving home for several hours, and I had lots of time to play a game of “what ifs” and send myself into a full out panic.
My best pal, Katie (my 8 year old) loves to play the game too. “MOMMY – there is water coming in the basement. Come quick.”
Oh no I thought, this could be very bad. I went to our basement door which leads out into our backyard and saw the water rippling toward our back door. It wasn’t there yet, but it was coming our way. Panic. Panic. More panic. I grabbed the nearest item I could find (a snow shovel, go figure) and started shoveling out water into the yard. It was pouring down rain. My clothing was soaking wet. My hair felt like I had just jumped into a swimming pool and my body was shaking from the cold. After I finished my work, I ran upstairs to shower and get myself warm. After the shower I came back to the basement door only to find the water had returned right back up again. Darn.
It was about this time that I found water seeping in through our well pump in the basement too. Darn again. Pete enters the house around this time and he finds me well showered and mistakenly thinks I am relaxed. He soon finds out the relaxation was panic, and he grabs his boots and goes out to see what manly things he can do to save the day. It was a sight to see. Pete was in his pajamas and his new rainboots digging out a trench so the water would go back out to the yard and not to our basement. It worked; he re-routed the rain water out into the yard. So thanks to Pete, I slept well that night.
I couldn’t help but think about this scenario the next day. All this water came at one time and flooded so many homes and businesses. It gushed down from the sky with a vengeance and flooded all our neighborhoods. Schools were closed or delayed. Traffic was a mess that next day because of flooded roads and highways. What chaos!
Sometimes I feel my life is like this. It comes at me like torrential rains. Life can cause my panic tank to overflow sometimes. When I am in a new situation or in the midst of something that makes me a little fearful of the unknown, I tend to start the “what ifs” and go into full panic mode. I want to find a way out, but my anxiety bars me from doing so. My anxiety makes me lose the ability to make good decisions. My anxiety can regulate my choices and trust me when anxiety is making the choices – I am in trouble. The sad part about all of this is when I allow myself to overflow my panic tank, I forget to ask God to help. I forget that God is waiting to give me strength. I forget that God has a way out for me, and I am closing the door to that with my anxiety. Actually, I am not only closing the door, I am locking it, barring it shut and maybe even bolting it shut. Anxiety can really take our eyes off God.
Cases like the other night’s storm, remind me that I am not in control, God is. When I place my worry and focus on the destruction of material items (like a house, my carpet, my couch, etc), then I am taking my focus on what is real and true – God. All of the things that could have been destroyed in my basement can be replaced. The problem isn’t so much the destruction of the material items, it is during that moment that I hold those “things” higher than God. I am actually saying to God – “I get to panic during this storm because it could cost me a lot of money and money is more important than you right now.” OUCH! How do you think that makes God feel? It doesn’t mean that I cannot go out and try to fix the issue (which Pete did quite well), but it does mean that I shouldn’t let my panic tank overflow. I need to ask God for strength and good decision making. I need to ask God for help, and do the best that I can to get through the situation without anxiety or panic.
I often think of my sweet daughter, Katie. Katie has experienced anxiety for many years. Just recently she has learned to deal with it on her own. We spend a lot of time praying together because I think it is one of the best ways for Katie to deal with her anxiety. We ask God for strength a lot – just the two of us. She is a great reminder to me of the power of God’s love. Anxiety can cripple anyone. Anxiety ultimately will cause you to think that no one (even yourself) is capable of emptying out your panic tank. Anxiety cripples our ability to make good choices. Only God can hold us up over the anxieties of life. Increase God, Decrease Me. (John 3:30)