2013 was a year of fear for me, but I didn’t realize that until the last couple of months. I actually thought the year revolved around stress! Let me give you a brief summary.
My husband and I were living in Wisconsin as he started his doctorate two years prior. We moved not knowing anyone and were farther away from family and friends. From day one we had experiences that had me ready to move out of that state ASAP! My husband was busy with his intense program and clinicals. That was his full time job…plus some! I was working full time to make ends meet…but in the most stressful environment I’ve ever experienced. Despite attending a great church and having new friends, it was difficult to be further from family and friends we had grown close to in our first years of marriage. Our quality time together was impacted by the busyness of school, work and stress.
Both of our stress levels were maxed out. I had begun having terrible migraines and tension the first year. By year two, I was feeling like I was drowning in the pressure and stress at work. By this past year, year three, I was in a very dark place. I had become a person that is hard to admit, and was sure I would never become…angry, bitter and depressed. This was even harder for me to acknowledge because at the time I was counseling patients. As a counselor, it’s easy to think that we should know how to handle stress, manage our emotions and especially avoid depression. I think that is where the FEAR began!
If I can’t manage my own stress and emotions, how can I ever help anyone else manage theirs?
How can I counsel these patients who are struggling with motivation to keep going when I want to give up?
I’ll never make a good counselor because I can’t help myself.
I’m not equipped for this role.
I can’t do this!
Stress was not taking over…it was fear! The stress at work was from constant circumstances out of my control, but I was afraid of those circumstances somehow reflecting upon me. I was afraid that my best wasn’t good enough because my circumstances didn’t change. I was worried that I would fail myself and those around me. I was worried that I would fail God. He had brought me to this job, with these people, in this time; I knew there had to be a reason, but I didn’t think I could make it.
Then, it came, freedom! My husband got a job out of state after graduation and I knew I would be leaving this stressful job, this state I didn’t love and this season of life that had become so dark. We moved. We no longer experienced the places, people and circumstances that were so stressful. And yet…the fear remained. Fear in the form of worry. Worry about where we would live and how long we would stay in a small apartment. Worry about where to go to church. Worry about when/if I will find another job. Anxiety about whether I would/should continue my counseling hours.
Why was I still dealing with these emotions when our circumstances were better? It was because of fear! It looked, felt and sounded different now, but it was still fear. I needed to find some way to combat fear. An opposite of fear is confidence. Ultimately, I had a confidence problem with God. I thought I trusted Him and believed he would provide for me in every situation. However, I continued to try to plan every detail of my life…in most cases before seeking His guidance first. God was becoming my last resort. How unfortunate, that I may be missing out on His great plan and blessings because I think I can manage on my own.
My first step to combat fear: STOP PLANNING!
(for those of you who are planners like me, this was not an act of chaos in which I would no longer be organized or make good decisions, but it was an act of submission and not making decisions based on unknown factors in the future or circumstances that were out of my control)
For the last couple of months I have stopped myself from trying to plan out every detail of my life and just take things as they come. The irony is that this is how I accepted life as a child and teenager. I just got lost on my journey! So I joined a small group of women I didn’t know without thinking twice about if it was at a church we would even attend or how much involvement it would require. I just did it!
That step of faith opened the doors for new blessings. Blessings of new friendship and opportunities to serve others. Submitting my plans to God has allowed me to become more confident in Him and myself. In 2014, I will continue combating fear…but this has been a good start.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
Be sure to pop on over this Thursday! Jenean will share the action she is taking to combat her fears.