Because I Can

Unless you are new to this blog, you have already learned that I love plants. Both of my thumbs (and probably my big toes) are green, and I have living, green things throughout my apartment. I often find clearanced out plants at Lowe’s – and occasionally Walmart – that are nearly dead, buy them super cheap, clean them up, and then love them back to life. I have done this so many times that my mom has taken to calling me the “Plant Doctor.” I laugh when she does, but she’s not really wrong. Between research and experimenting, I have successfully brought back many plants over the years.

This passion of mine is a lot of fun, but it holds deeper meaning for me as well. My life has been full of ups and downs, and sometimes I feel I can relate to some of these plants.

I can’t tell you how many times my life has taken an unexpected turn. I can’t tell you how many times I have found my hope nearly destroyed by events and experiences I’ve lived through. But every single time, God has picked me up, cleaned me off, and transplanted me so I have room to grow. It’s a painful experience, but each time it’s been worth the tears and struggle.

And so yes, I can relate. But even that is not the primary focus of what I want to write about today.

Before I left an extremely unhealthy situation, I struggled with ridiculous anxiety. I don’t mean that I felt nervous or a little stressed. I mean I had increasingly regular panic attacks, the unknown terrified me, I struggled with trusting anyone, and functioning like a “normal” adult was a challenge. Many days it was a challenge I couldn’t rise to. Thankfully, God brought me out of a bad situation, and within six months, I went from almost crippling anxiety to almost none at all.

This is what I want to talk about. Not the anxiety itself – it’s all over the news and social media these days, you don’t need me to tell you what it looks like – but one basic step to help yourself deal with it until it passes. I’m not going to tell you to pray about it, because hopefully you already are. I am going to give you this one thing you can do to keep fighting for your mind – maybe even your life.

So what is this one thing? That’s up to you.

Oh geez, Misty, that’s helpful.

No, it really is. You find one thing that you can do. I don’t care if it’s as simple as turning on a light, opening the blinds or a window, or reading five words on a page. Find that one thing that you can commit to yourself that you will do each day. When you are ready, feel free to add another, but for now, be content with one.

Even if you don’t struggle with severe anxiety, this can be applied to your life as well. Currently, I find myself with too many goals and too little time. I was alone this weekend and apart from working out with some new friends first thing in the morning, I had all day to myself yesterday. I had so many projects I wanted to get done, but I knew that I couldn’t do them all. I could have allowed my feelings of being overwhelmed convince me to take a nap and not do any of it, but instead, I chose one thing I could do. I transplanted, pruned, and watered all of my plants. I threw away what was dead (the dead stuff can drain the life out of what’s living), and rearranged what was left so that each plant was getting the light it needs. Some of my plants were new – I found a few plants on clearance at Lowe’s the night before (a couple of them were as low as fifty cents!) – and they needed the most work.

When I was done, I had a big mess in my kitchen. There were dead leaves and dirt all over my floor! I needed a break, so I took one. And then I felt exhausted because I hadn’t slept much at all the night before, got up early to do an intense workout, and then worked for a few hours on my plants. So I took a nap. Yes, I left the dirt on my floor. I was the only one home, and I needed to rest.

But don’t worry, I swept my floor and mopped it a few hours later.

It’s about finding what you can do, doing it, and taking breaks when you need to.

In the past, I have pushed through and completed a lot of things all at once. But then I felt so exhausted the next few days that it killed my motivation to do anything else. Finding that balance is what is important.

And so sometimes, I work on plants because I can.

It’s Okay To Feel Discouraged

Yesterday was not a bad day. It was my day off and I was able to get some things done before snagging a nap. I even got to talk to my mom for a little while (Hi, Mom!)

Around 3 in the afternoon, I started to feel really discouraged. God has been providing for us, but lately my financial situation has been overwhelming at times. Being a single mom can be really hard in a “normal” situation, and dealing with all we are going through makes it even more challenging for me.

At first I was irritated with myself. I shouldn’t be discouraged. God has brought immense healing to me and my girls, and He does keep providing. I immediately started thinking of ways to pull myself out of my funk, but then I felt a stillness that reminded me that it’s okay to feel discouraged.

I knew I didn’t want to stay discouraged, but letting myself feel this hard emotion is healthy. We live in a drive thru world – everything must be now. I’m hungry and tired and I don’t want to cook? Let’s go through the drive thru. My kids are whiny and fighting and I know screens will keep them occupied? Let’s go through the drive thru. I don’t like how I’m feeling and it’s obviously a lack of faith? Let’s go through the drive thru. There are a lot of drive thru options here. Alcohol, binge-watching tv, taking a long nap, and even some that sound like good options, like reading the Bible, praying, or listening to worship music.

Please hear me out. There is nothing wrong with going through a drive thru (especially if you are buying God’s chicken at CfA) when you are hungry and tired and don’t want to cook. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids have screen time sometimes when you are about to pull your hair out and/or turn into The Hulk. And napping is good when you need the rest and recharge. And yes, reading the Bible, praying, and listening to worship music are very good things.

My point is this – those things may help short term, but they don’t take care of the underlying problem. We can only do this by allowing ourselves to feel. When we don’t, it’s like slapping a bandaid over a surgical incision. We need to take time to discover why we feel like we do before we try to pull ourselves out of it.

My fellow moms will be able to relate to this story. When my youngest, who is nine, has feelings she doesn’t understand or doesn’t know where they are coming from, automatically assumes it’s because a little girl in her class has been “so sassy” to her. Now, this little girl has hurt my daughter’s feelings before, but nine times out of ten, that is not the real issue. The real issue is much deeper. Maybe she is feeling insecure, or lonely, or feels inadequate in some way. Maybe the trauma she has experienced in her life is raising its ugly head and claiming territory in her heart. But the easy answer is that this girl is being sassy, because that is what she can see on the surface. And even now, our nine year old inner child is doing the same thing.

A friend of mine recently got on a low dose of medication for anxiety. I asked them if I could make a suggestion, and they gave me permission. I suggested they not get off the meds (with their doctor’s help) until they resolve the underlying issues causing their anxiety. Not their growing to do list, not the financial crunch, not the loneliness they currently live with from day to day. I mentioned that perhaps it was a subconscious feeling of inadequacy because they had not reached certain important life goals, even though they were successful in many other areas. I’m not a therapist, but I’m a pretty good listener, and even if I was off with the subconscious sense of inadequacy, I knew there was something deeper.

We need to stop going through the drive thru with our emotions. Let yourself feel. Discover what hides behind the emotion du jour. Only then can you truly deal with what lies underneath. Only then can you find a permanent solution.

So please, read your Bible, pray, listen to worship music. But let it be out of a heart of gratitude to God – not as a temporary fix. God will use these things to bring healing to our lives, but if we are unable – or unwilling – to deal with the deeper issues, it’s only going to grow our guilt.

Faith is not being perfect. It’s trusting in the One who is perfect.