I was raised on the south side of Tampa Bay. Summertime, I just changed from one bikini to the next. I often fell asleep in my swimsuit because I lived in the water. If I wasn’t at the beach, I was on a boat.
Jim was our family friend when I was growing up. If he wasn’t working, he was fishing. A real Floridian. And if I wasn’t in school, I had a standing invitation to join him. He was a father figure, of sorts. And the kind of “extra dad” any girl would have been proud to have.
Jim taught me how to bait a hook, make chum, filet a fish and cook it. There was only one problem with spending so much time on a boat: even with motion sickness tablets, I became extremely seasick.
But Jim knew that about me and was very patient. He taught me if I ever started feeling sick, all we needed to do was find a sandbar. If I could just get my feet back on the ground, maybe swim a little, everything would be fine. Countless times before I ever mentioned it, Jim would ask if I needed to get out of the boat.
This Saturday morning, I opened my eyes to the most annoying sight. The laundry I’d folded on Tuesday was still sitting on the chest at the end of the bed. That’s the definition of a busy week for me. I like it loaded, swapped, folded and put away in the same day.
This week, I had a load of additional demands at work. The preschool class I’ve taught for the past nine months was graduating. Moving on. Aside from the typical daily chores, there were end of the year parties, graduation to attend, and “thank you notes” to write.
When I finally laid down Saturday night, I was hoping for a restful night’s sleep. I figured it would be one of those nights where you wake up the next morning in the exact same position you fell asleep in. Not a hair moved.
But that wasn’t the case. Around 1am, I woke up with an upset stomach. Often, that’s how anxiety first presents for me, with a physical punch to the gut. Then the emotional roller coaster, the tight shoulders, and the fast heart rate.
Every thought flooding my mind was irrational and worst-case-scenario. Situations I have absolutely no control over, yet I was trying to solve them all at once. I was on the verge of tears, my chest was tight, and I knew if I leaned into this anxiety, I would take it all out on my family in the morning.
When I was seasick as a teenager, we would immediately start looking for the sandbar. But feeling better was a process. It might take ten minutes with my feet on the ground, before the nausea would begin to subside, and I felt like I could keep going.
Instead of considering running home and curling up in a ball on the couch, after a few minutes on land, I actually wanted to get back in the boat and fish some more.
These days, I’m not so different from that teenager in the boat. When the stomach ache hits, and anxiety whispers white noise in my ears, I still have to ground myself. For me, that looks like acknowledging I’m in the middle of a panic attack and finding the tools to dig myself out.
I often start with a Scripture I have memorized. I say it, even if I don’t immediately feel the effects. I say it, almost as a mantra, again and again, until the knot in my stomach subsides. It may not ease the tension in my shoulders immediately, but I keep trusting, holding on through the difficult moments, and eventually, I am ready to keep going.
What about you? Does anxiety whisper lies in your ears? Does fear of the future cause you to shudder when you’re all alone? Does uncertainty in your marriage tell you things will never improve?
Maybe, like me, you need to find a spiritual sandbar, throw out the anchor, and remind yourself of the Truth you believe. In the middle of a storm-tossed life, the stubbornness to abide in God’s Truth will ground your tired and shaking soul.Throw out the anchor, and remind yourself of the Truth you believe.Click To Tweet
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