Cast Your Cares

I have been praying about this post and asking God to give me the words.  I have felt the need to share some of my story about living with anxiety, and having a child that also deals with it.  The more I talk to people, the more common I realize it is.  So my prayer is that this post encourages someone, comforts someone, and helps someone feel they are not alone.

I guess I’ve always been a “worrier”, but anxiety didn’t really begin to grip me until my late 20’s.  I’ve always dealt with social anxiety (I’m a true introvert!) but it seemed to get worse as I got older.  I would think about whatever social function I had to attend for days, and on the day of the event, I would be so sick I couldn’t eat all day.  Overall, my anxiety has grown and has even been crippling at times.  I’ve had panic attacks, chest pains, a sick stomach and ocular migraines- all caused by stress and anxiety.  Most of the time it was hard to pinpoint exactly WHAT I was anxious about.  I do deal with some irrational fears, but a lot of my worries stem from “what if’s”.  I could list a million “what if’s” that have gone through my head, and usually there are a couple of specific “what if’s” that I fixate on for periods of time.

For a while it was school.  I began working on my Bachelors degree in 2012 and I was constantly worried about making an “A”.  Even after assignments were complete and turned in, I had no sense of relief.  I would check my grades online everyday with a nauseous feeling.  I was very performance driven because I thought the “A” represented my worth and at least something I was doing right in life.  If I didn’t make the grade, I wasn’t good enough.  There are many others things that caused that tight feeling in my chest and a nauseous stomach daily.  I knew as a child of God I was not called to live this way!  But I didn’t know what to do.

Now I want to tell you a little of McKinley’s story, my 11 year old daughter.  I have her permission to share, although I won’t share a lot, because this is HER story and will be HER victory to tell in her own time.  For many years (since she was in preschool) we have dealt with stomach aches weekly and sometimes daily.  We saw doctors and nurses and no one could find anything physically wrong with her.  Finally one pediatrician mentioned “anxiety”.  I saw an article recently that talked about kids and anxiety and discusses the “brain-gut connection”.  It also mentioned that kids can’t tell you they are anxious, they will often tell you their stomach hurts.

Dealing with this myself, I understood how she felt.  I have heard the phrase, “God never wastes a hurt”.  The last year or so, I have begun to sense that God can use me to help my daughter and other people who are going through this.  Someone who doesn’t live with anxiety can’t relate.  My husband would often say, “Why are you worried about something like that??”, or “Why do you let little things bother you so much??”.  It’s just difficult for some people to understand.  For McKinley, I am someone she can talk to and I am a support person for her.  Recently, God placed someone in my life who’s daughter is the exact same age as McKinley and is dealing with similar things.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

What Helped Me:

  1. I sought professional counseling.  For a long time I thought I should be able to pray my way through anxiety.  It wasn’t working.  I could not pray my chest pains, or my nauseous stomach away.  While I absolutely believe in the power of prayer and that God heard every word (1 Peter 3:12, Jeremiah 29:12-13), it just wasn’t going away.  Then one day while sitting in church, I had the thought, “if I had bronchitis or a physical ailment, I wouldn’t NOT go to the doctor”.  That changed the way I felt about talking to a professional.  I did see a Christian counselor, and now McKinley is seeing her.
  2. I memorized scripture.  There are tons of verses in the Bible about anxious thoughts, worry, and fear.  I have read that “fear not” is mentioned 365 times in some form in the Bible.  I chose several verses and wrote them on index cards so I could carry them with me. I love 1 Peter 5:7 (see below).  The dictionary defines “cast” as, “throw something forcefully in a specified direction; to discard”. I love that imagery- to “throw” your worries on God, to “discard” your anxiety.
  3. I Praised Him.  However you enjoy to Praise God, do it!  I love to sing praise and worship songs and I would turn the volume up in my car and sing as loud as I could.  It took my focus off me and put it on Him.
  4. I journaled.  Writing is therapeutic for me, and sometimes just writing my worries down in the form of a prayer, or even listing them helped.

Anxiety still rears it’s ugly head, and I will always deal with it.  But, it’s more manageable now.  I pray that God will use me to help someone else going through this.  I want my story to point to Him.  Through God’s power, grace and love, I am better.  What are the things that cause anxiety for you? It would be an honor to pray for you, or someone that you know who struggles with this.  Leave a comment, or  go to my “Contact Me” page.

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22 thoughts on “Cast Your Cares

  1. I was like McKinley as a child. I hated school and being around other kids i didn’t know how to relate i only played and hung around my cousins. I went to a church that was closed off from other people. I couldn’t talk to them because allowed to do things other girls my age was allowed to do we never watched tv much or listen to music other than what we sang at church. So I didn’t know what to talk about. I also worried about my family and I still do but I pray that God will help me let things go that I can’t change and to be more open about the way I feel. I’m better with people now and I know I can always take my problems to God and he will listen. Thank you Crystal for sharing your thoughts i love you just the way you are.

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  2. Thank you Crystal for this awesome transparency and opening the door for everyone! While I have not experienced debilitating anxiety, I did go through much of my life with what my counselor finally labeled “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”. So, I too, have gained freedom from seeing a counselor and the power of prayer. I HAD to go through the counseling process before I could fully believe that I was worthy of God’s word and all that it held for me. I was NEVER created to be perfect, just forgiven and loved for EXACTLY who He made me to be. I also found great release from being a Hovering (another word for perfectionist) parent in a variety of ways but want to point out a great book by John Maxwell called “Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you….LEARN” It’s core message is that, as human beings, we learn the most from “failure” AND “failure/mistakes” are not “failure/mistakes” if we learn from it. So, I was able to step back and realize that my sons would be far better humans if they were allowed to fall, make mistakes, etc. because they would learn from it. Jim and I were ALWAYS there to discuss the choices, advise and pick them up, so it was NOT the “easy way out” of parenting. It proved to be the most loving and inspirational step we could have taken. It also gave a VERY strong message that “we believe in you and that you are fully capable of making good choices” vs my hovering that said “you can’t succeed without me”. Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts. You are a true blessing, Crystal!

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    1. Wow, Tracey! Thank you for your wisdom! You and Jim are tremendous parents and I’m grateful to have you in my life to learn from! I bet Brad has this book, but if not, it’s going on my list! Thanks again for your encouragement and support!! ❤️

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  3. An old hymn says “What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so dear, leaning on the everlasting arms?”. That’s what I thought of when you talked about casting our cares on Him, that if we’d just settle into those strong arms of His we wouldn’t have all this anxiety. But I know I keep taking back many things from God that I thought I had “given” him because I feel the need to fix, fix, fix. Your story today reminds me to leave it all at the Cross!

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    1. “Safe and secure from all alarms”. I love that hymn. Reminds me of going to church with my grandparents. I have sweet memories of singing that song next to my grandmother. Thank you for sharing that and reminding me of those sweet words. Oh how the hymns gain more and more meaning as I grow older.

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  4. Crystal, I know this is the long game of patiently raising our children but the end result of your loving diligence in caring for your girls in their uniqueness will pay off when they are adults. You are a great mom and you trust your instincts- plus you are able to relate to McKinley on a level that most could not. I’m proud of you for making the tough decisions and for leaning in to the One Who loves you beyond what you can hope or imagine and pointing your girls in the same direction. No need for whipped cream on that!

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  5. Crystal- This article is beautifully written. So many of us have battles that we are fighting…and most of the people around us have no idea. Thank you for your transparency. We should all be a bit more courageous in sharing our struggles and being BOLD in our faith. Hold on to the best anchor there is…the word of God and there is no doubt you will make it through this storm. Much Love!

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  6. Thank you for sharing your heart Crystal! This is so helpful for so many people!! I too have struggled on & off with anxiety since a medical complication I had years ago, and shortly thereafter my mom’s passing. It can be so frustrating, and such a theif of inner peace and joy. Thank you for sharing the great tips of things that that have helped you! It is so true…God doesn’t waste our hurts. Many blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Thank you, Amy! You are so right, it is a thief! I have times when I lay awake at night just anticipating something bad to happen. I know I’m called to live like that. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and leave your comment!

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  7. Thanks for sharing you and your daughter’s story. I am about to go through another transition with my daughter graduating from college. I have to trust God for our next steps and to provide financially. So I have some worries with that. I always remind myself we only learn to trust Him by going through things and seeing His faithfulness. Thanks for the prayers.

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