Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday's Devo: Anxiety is Real!

But God is bigger!
Anne here.

Carribean Sea

Have you ever seen Nim's Island? I love that scene where Alex Rover, fiction author, is literally conquering her severe OCD and social anxiety to save a little girl who worships her fictional hero. It's the moment she leaves her apartment that I love. Seriously, if you haven't seen this, click on short trailer: (if it won't load, here's the link: Nim's Island Trailer, or just google it).


I have some anxiety. Not severe. Just enough to struggle with, as anyone would, but apparently more than my husband has. So this week on our cruise, I had to face my issues, and I took a different approach. I mean, when you're on a huge cruise ship and your morning devotion turns out to be Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you,"---you tend to wonder what you might face for the day!
<Anne sighs>

Confession: I can be a control freak at times, <Anne winks at her husband> when I don't keep anxiety checked. Because everyone with anxiety will tell you if you can control things, then you can avoid calamity right?! Hahaha! <Anne smacks her forehead>

As a fiction writers we are constantly asking the question as we plot: what's the worst thing that could happen in this scene for the heroine or the hero? Then we make it happen, or at least we up the stakes. This works great in fiction writing. But in real life, when the author can't stop thinking, what's the worst thing that could happen--that's an issue! Especially when you're on a cruise, separated from your spouse and only travel partner while he's diving ninety feet below ocean surface and you are with 150% complete strangers petting sting rays, the boat takes you to a reef to snorkel, you reach the boat relieved to find your hubby made it back only to have him leave boat for shore to get a T-shirt one hour prior to departure, and you suddenly wonder if he took his passport with him so he can get back on the boat! <Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence, but anxiety in the brain is like a massive run-on sentence!>

I mean, what is the worst thing that can happen?

My mind started to race. My heart started to pound. What if? <Anne's crazy mind overthinks>
From getting the bends, to lost at sea, to "I'm an introvert on a boat of three thousand people alone flying back home without her spouse, carrying the luggage of two" <stupid,stupid,stupid, Anne shakes head>

The thing is, that if I let anxiety rule--I'm suddenly highly annoyed at the risks we've just taken. After all I wouldn't be having a heart-banging-crazy-thought moment right now if we'd just never gotten on the boat. The annoyance can then grow to snapping at each other, intense verbal slamming, to anger, or blame---when in reality, nothing even happened!

So, I gripped my silly stupid self and shook off that craaaazy. I said (yes, out loud like a crazy person), "anxiety, stop it! I'm on vacation and you aren't welcome here!" <Anne laughs in face of that silly old giant> Suddenly, by taking control of it, it began losing it's control on me, and I let go of my need to control my situation and my poor unsuspecting husband who was jauntily having a great adventure, not worried one whit about any of my silly imaginations.

I put on my iTunes and set it to "Battles" by the Afters. 
I replayed it three whole times. 
Next, there was the question--if I can't apparate a passport into Ted's pocket....and really God likely isn't going to apparate me either. So I ask what should I do God, if Ted seriously is held back in Grand Turk forever without his photo ID? <Anne worries her beach-ocean-loving husband just might be okay with that option> "Tell me what to do Father."  Search the cabin, if you find all his ID's, then he'll need you to take one and meet him at the port. <Anne breathes, tries to have peace, states out loud that she will have peace> "But what if the boat leaves while I'm doing this idiotic anxiety ridden stupidness?" But still, I reasoned that the Father's plan was quite logical, so I pocketed his passport even though I hadn't located his driver's license or wallet, meaning he likely had it on him, but by now my anxiety had eliminated that logic and deemed it untrustable. <Anne is by now quite aware that the Father is only going along with this for her sake, and has really zero worry about her spouse getting on the boat>

I glance at my watch. 4:55pm. On board time is 5pm sharp. Still no Ted at the cabin. So I leave to see if I can see him boarding, but from deck nine, the long line of cruisers waiting to embark is just a bunch of bobble-heads I can't identify. Part of me relaxes, he's got to be in that line. But part of me wonders if he's not. What if? So I trek down six more flights of stairs, work my way forward searching for a deck that overlooks the gangplank. I finally find it and an worker is scraping the outside of the door and I can't get it open. In broken English, he's telling me push harder on the door. <Anne's mind is now seeing a Viking strength shoulder ram into the blasted door> It finally opens, I rush to the railing, look over the edge. Just below me is a long long line, but alas, Ted is immediately in front of me. One out of a million in that moment. He looks up at me all relaxed-like: "hey, honey!"

"Hey, hun".  Sigh of relief. "I was just letting you know I'll be on deck nine drinking coffee, relaxing." He smiles big. He found his dive T-shirt to remember his fun adventure on Grand Turk. <Anne's mind races, wondering what her T-shirt for the day would look like--probably cra-cra girl!>

But later, at dinner, as we shared our story. I felt a secret triumph. Father cared enough to meet me where I was. On my excursion with total strangers, He put me beside a sweet couple who'd been married over fifty years. She was from Canada, he was from Scotland. The man had wanted to go diving that day too, but he's given it up due to health. They were entirely sympathetic and sweet to me. And really, I don't think God is a puppet, but I totally believe He ordered my steps to walk onto that deck just at the right moment when Ted was right there.  Because He is able.

Because God is bigger than all my "what-ifs" and all yours too. God is not my puppet, He's simply very real to me, even in all my imaginations.
I pray that my battle, and all my fiction "what-ifs", bring you a little closer to peace beyond all you can imagine.

I wish I was fearless. But I'm not. I wish I was more Anne-of-Green-Gables-walking-the-ridge-pole, but I'm more Alex-Rover-stuck-in-her-apartment. But I'm not sure being brave is being fearless. I think it's more about breathing in, and breathing out. It's more about stepping out anyway.
It's more about holding the Father's hand as you step out of the boat and onto the waters.

Readers: Anyone out there need a prayer for anxiety this week?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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