May is mental health awareness month. This is pretty important to me; for a long time, I have dealt with anxiety as well as had people close to me really struggle with mental health. It’s not a thing I take lightly, and with all of us in a more isolated setting, this could not be a more important topic to talk about. We are all built for relationship, so, the physical distancing that is needing to happen has been a struggle for many people. I’ve seen way too many folks spending all their time on Facebook and getting sucked in to this “doomer” mindset. We’re scared, we’re in the midst of something that has never happened in our lifetimes, and we are putting our faith in all the wrong places.
The first month of the year has now finished. It feels pretty wild already; I’m not sure about you, but it feels like so much has happened. Yes, the world has had some crazy things, but in my own life, it feels as if a million things have happened all at once. I started a new position at my job, which is requiring me to have some very late nights, so my head feels off. I do well with consistency, things I can plan on happening in a certain order, but when your work schedule is new every week and you don’t have advance notice of those times, it starts to drain on you. My dear Danielle was in a state of flux since her program ended, getting random shifts and then finally, getting confirmation of a part time position. We’ve dealt with drastic Florida weather changes that has been creating lovely sickness, weird neighbors getting mad at how loud we are (cause those early morning toilet flushes are just us being so mean), and a sense of unknowingness about the future.
My dear Danielle is so much more of a daredevil than I am. She’s the skydiving, dirt bike racing, spooky forest, adrenaline junkie; and I’m super jealous. She somehow tricked me onto the “Fury 325,” which is a fitting name for Carowinds’ roller coaster, one that is called a giga coaster and the fifth tallest, seventh fastest, and fourth longest roller coaster in the world. Yes, I had to look all of that up, and I hope it lets you know how terrified I was to get on this. I figured I could chicken out, but her dad was there, and of course I had to show I was a brave guy for his daughter. I remember feeling so sick as we waited in line, and I said, I’ll be fine as long as I’m not in the front row. We then got the front row. I remember the hot sun beating down on me, and Danielle yelling, “look it’s Charlotte!” I turned my head and saw the entire city of Charlotte, North Carolina. I then remember the coaster being a jerk and stopping for a little bit at the peak, then we dropped. I thought my skin was going to peel off of my face, certain that even though I have never had a bad heart, that it would then burst out of my chest.
Fear is just the worst. I’m not talking about the type of fear that comes over us when we watch a scary movie or hear a noise in the night, I’m talking about that great and powerful, “unknown.” Think about it, we are all scared by what we don’t know. Ever been at a party and you knew no one? It’s the pit in your stomach when you were in a class and the teacher said to choose a partner, but you have never spoken to a soul in that room. You kinda just have to go with the guy next to you, but if you have the luck like I do, you get partnered with the guy who blows his cigarette smoke into his backpack. That’s a true story by the way. I have never been more speechless than that moment. Anyways, fear of the unknown is extremely unsettling. It’s the reason why you rarely see the shark in Jaws, the picture you create in your mind will always be scarier than when you actually come face to face with it (though sharks are all kinda freaky to me). I recently dealt with this amped up fear of the unknown this past week, and came face to face with some heavy lies.
I want to talk about fear today, but more accurately, how fear truly stinks.
The Wolf Man. One of the classic Universal Pictures monsters, a man with a curse, every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. Howling at the moon and out for blood, a battle he fights to regain control of his poor mind. This is a trope in horror fiction, the Jekyll and Hyde concept, normal person fighting a raging monster inside. This month I’ve been looking at old tropes from horror and looking at how God has used them to teach me, and in turn, teach you. This week, I wanted to talk about something very personal to me, something that I’ve alluded to in the past and on this blog, but never fully talked about. Today I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the creature that tries to control me. One that has tried to hold me back. It’s not a wolf bite; I want to talk about my battle with anxiety.
Well it’s finally here. Today is the Monday before Halloween (Unless of course you are reading this early here!). The kids will walk around your neighborhood in the costumes they are proud of, candy will be consumed in vast quantities, and many laughs after frights will be had. My family loved Halloween, at my old church the kids had a fall festival my mom put on and I would work hard on a costume with my dad. Things like, a guy in a shower, a laundry basket, or garbage bag (all were real, and all were epic). The past week has been kinda crazy. My life has started going a million miles an hour, and stress has started to build. I’m stepping into new roles, and balancing several things on my plate. On a Tuesday I had a rough day. I struggle with anxiety, fears put in my head that tell me I’m not doing enough or that I’m not good enough. On Tuesday I had a pretty rough anxiety attack, the whole day my mind was constantly racing, worrying about my role and place in the world, I was afraid that I wasn’t doing all that I should, I was worried that people hated me, and I was afraid of countless scenarios that aren’t even possible. It didn’t make sense, but it makes sense now. I had fear in my heart, doing all it could to convince me I wasn’t who God made me to be.
But fear is from the devil, and the devil is a stupid liar.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression over the past few months. I’ve been so afraid of the future and the path I will take over the next months after school. The stress of trying to finish well but not have a clear direction after this season scares me, it makes me feel like I am failing at my purpose. All I desire is to write words that will inspire others and serve the next generation in ministry, but the path is so unclear and that’s what makes it so difficult. That’s the reason I need Christ more than ever. It’s the reason we all need Christ more than ever. This past week I was worshiping with my brothers and sisters and received prayer of encouragement for this struggle I’ve been facing. After this I prayed with Matt the artist. I call him this because he truly thinks in abstract ways like an artist, and we prayed together in an abstract way. We prayed to look for the moment of origin for anxiety, and when I found it, he asked me to now put God in that situation. Everything changed. You see, Matt the artist helped me understand that I can’t go about things on my own, my foundation needs to be focused on my savior. Our focus needs to be on the foundation of our life.