Tag Archives: anxiety

When your emotions are running wild and you can’t just be still and know

14 Jan

cinque terre_breaking wave

I’ve read enough Ann Voskamp posts lately for her writing style to seep into my thought processes. If you, too, are a Voskamp lady aficionada, may I lead with noting that imitation is the highest form of flattery…

You know those late nights when you’re all foggy brained and aching for sleep, but your mind is still operating on its last dregs of caffeine? It’s dragging you through your own dirt, that unpleasant catalog of your every mistake, missed opportunity, and insecurity. It’s replaying conversations that happened a year ago, or just today. Did I say the right thing? Too many things? Or did I avoid the important things? It’s pricking you with regret over how you frittered last weekend away, continue to repeat the same sin, or failed at a friendship. It’s trying to solve what can’t be solved: I’m not good enough. How can I make myself good enough? Or how can I justify myself, and decide I’m good enough?

Nothing is well with your soul when anxiety hijacks your brain, sending it fluttering into obsessive self-guilt. Anxiety is nothing less than the devil telling you a half-truth, that you’re not good enough. The devil wants to leave you there, to either throw up your hands in apathy that leads to self-destruction, or to rationalize that through working harder, denying self more, or living more radically you will be good enough.

quote_god plan for lifeThe devil delights in this half-truth because he knows how easily we forget to push past it to the only truth that can combat our deepest self-hatred and grief over spotted pasts and grievous sins: Jesus is more than good enough. He is the only good, the only means by which we become “good enough.” So go on, look inside yourself. Sit with all that making a muck of it and missing the mark and straight-up turning your back on God. Just don’t stop there. Don’t let the anxiety spiral into a god that cannot be pleased. Move past it, to look outside yourself, to the one who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Who says those wounds don’t include self-inflicted ones? Who says they don’t include the kind of backsliding that makes your mind recite a blasphemous mantra: you are hopeless, you are hopeless, until you decide it must be true?

Anxiety is not the be all end all. The debilitating self-questioning does not have the final say, because while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). When you’ve finished surveying your inner rot, survey the cross. Be dazzled by what the prince of glory did for you that you could not do for yourself. Be so drenched in God’s abundant grace that your guilt and inner angst are drowned out. Take hold of the promise that is ever-present and ever-true: neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Being still and knowing that God, not I, is in control presents an ongoing challenge. I wrestle with leaving unresolved matters in God’s hands, with leaving my messiness in the potter’s hands. In my struggle, I’ve found that habits, good or bad, influence my ability to trust God and be known by Him. It’s a stretch to say that my lunch-eating habits shape my Christian walk, but I’m going for it. The following is a very simple recipe for a Mediterranean-inspired salad, which I do eat four days a week!


INGREDIENTS (makes 2 servings):

1 bag baby carrots

2 heads Romaine lettuce

4 cups mixed greens

1/2 red onion, diced

2 Roma tomatoes

1 English cucumber, halved and sliced

1/4 cup Feta cheese

6 oz. grilled chicken breast strips (I buy these ones at ALDI)

2 Tbs. Tzatziki sauce (Costco variety is ideal!)

2 Tbs. light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (like this one from ALDI)


  1. Boil baby carrots until tender. Drain and let cool. Distribute into four small plastic containers.
  2. Meanwhile, combine both lettuce varieties, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, and Feta cheese. Distribute salad mixture into two large plastic containers.
  3. Using kitchen scale, weigh out 3 oz. of chicken strips into two small plastic containers.
  4. Place 1 Tbs. tsatziki sauce and 1 Tbs. balsamic vinaigrette into a small plastic container. Repeat with second container.
  5. Pack 2 lunches with salad, chicken, dressing, and carrots. When ready to eat, first warm the carrots in microwave, then combine all ingredients and enjoy!

CALORIES: 250 (per serving)

Salad Pic 2.jpg





Dear Soul, Straighten up and Fly Right

12 Nov


I’m not as bad as Mr. Hyde, in that I don’t get my kicks from spazzing out on the neighbors when night falls. But when night falls, I definitely grow darker. Feelings of loneliness heighten, and I start to feel anxious and upset. My internal freak outs run the gamut, from how to deal with being 27 and perfectly single to fear of nuclear attack from Iran; from the three pimples on my chin that are more resilient than a Twinkie to how our nation will ever recover if Hillary Clinton is elected president; from feeling like a loser with no friends to pondering the eternal state of my soul. Yes, I’m an utterly unbearable emotional diva between 11 pm and when I fall asleep, but the fact remains that I struggle with feeling restless and discontent.

Fortunately, I have a sister whose advice I tend to take to heart. She visited me here in College Park a couple of months ago, and we experienced a ghastly contemporary Christian service together. My takeaway: sitting at home staring at the wall would have brought me closer to God. Hers: at least there was an emphasis on Scripture memorization. And so, I decided to get to memorizing. First, James 1; next Isaiah 53; then Psalm 42; now Romans 8. But back-up to Psalm 42. King David’s mantra therein stuck with me:

“Why are you downcast, O my Soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

David is reasoning with his own soul. It’s a perplexing concept, to imagine a person using logic to straighten out his one immaterial (though immortal) aspect. Despite his pleas, David remains emotionally shipwrecked. He isn’t alone, either. Martin Luther referred to periods of feeling forsaken by God as Anfechtung, and Mother Teresa spent nearly half a century feeling disconnected from God.

Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, opines that “half, two thirds, maybe three quarters of the depression that we experience as Christians is depression over our depression. We’re sad that we’re sad. We’re surprised that we’re surprised. We’re upset that we’re upset. And if [we] weren’t so upset about being upset, [we] wouldn’t be as upset.” Isn’t that the root of anxiety, deciding to focus on that which we cannot fix ourselves?

Life stings. It aches. It frustrates. It’s unsatisfying. But if we truly believe in David’s mantra, from start to finish, ultimately our temporary discomforts, pain, and anguish will fade away. Until then, after night is a new morning. There’s comfort food to keep you going, too, even in healthy varieties. Like this recipe from Julia’s Album, a mock alfredo sauce with cauliflower replacing the butter and heavy cream. I’ve tested it out and Julia knows what’s up, though I wouldn’t recommend the nutmeg addition.

CAULIFLOWER ALFREDO SAUCE: http://juliasalbum.com/2015/01/cauliflower-alfredo-sauce-recipe/


CALORIES (per 1/2 cup serving): 70