Think Upon These Things:
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatsoever is true, whatsoever is noble, whatsoever is right, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is admirable, if anything is excelling or praiseworthy think about such things.” Phil 4:8
With our current “COVID Crisis” many of us have had to change our plans, homeschool for the very first time, set up our office in the dining room, and have not been unable to attend church. Our life has been VERY altered. And for those who suffer from loneliness, anxiety and depression, it may feel as though your whole world has shut down and left you without any coping mechanisms.
You may work beside or even worship next to people who, regardless of what is going on in their life, always smile and pretend like everything is fine. But let’s get something straight…we are ALL a hot mess at some point in our lives. And it’s our messes that actually draw us together. It’s ok to admit that you’re not strong, that you are struggling with a situation, and that you are disappointed with the circumstances in your life.
Homeschooling moms never want to admit that they are struggling with loneliness, depression and even anxiety at times. We are already judged for going against the grain of society. We are expected to excel at motherhood, our wifely duties, and educating our children. (no pressure)
When secretly suffering from loneliness, depression or anxiety...possibly all three...it will begin to effect you physically. For example, you attend a co-op field trip. You are new to the group and stand off as other moms laugh and their kids play together. This may cause you to feel excluded. This emotional feeling will send a brain alert that actually causes physically pain. Our body pumps cortisol (a stress hormone) which increases moodiness and interrupts sleep. Continued feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety can cause long term hormonal imbalances, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and make one more prone to the common cold.
So what's a gal to do? Let's see what we can learn from the bible....
A wise woman once told me:
“You cannot always pray your way out of a situation. Sometimes you have to press forward, keep walking, and follow Jesus.”
The more I thought about that statement the more I realized that Jesus invited messy people to follow Him. So if your life is a mess...just follow Jesus!
God impressed in my spirit to read 1 Kings 19 - the story of Elijah, the prophet. If you know anything about Elijah you know that God used him to accomplish some mighty miracles. Elijah gets a little arrogant. Then, Queen Jezebel threatens him. He has a complete panic attack! It’s as if he hit a wall and says “I can’t do this anymore.” Have you ever felt that way? Just remember, God is the God of the impossible. What we cannot do, He will do!
Anyway, our story continues with Elijah running into the wilderness due to his state of mind. Next, he hides in a cave…venting. Basically, he sleeps, eats, and repeats. But eventually, Elijah gets himself up and gets back to work. Sometimes in life, after you’ve had your “moment” you need to make yourself get up and live again.
I have found the God speaks the most in my life during those crazy, unsettling times. Why? Probably because He has my attention. What is God trying to teach you in your darkness?
Serving in the ministry has drawn us to study depression and anxiety so that we may better serve our community. Did you know that 15% of Americans feel depressed at some point in their lives? Yes, even your Pastor has his “moments.” Depression can affect relationships and make it difficult to complete school assignments or focus on your work. It can disturb your eating, play havoc on your sleep, and even affect your sex life. Coping is essential!
Helpful Coping Mechanisms:
Stay Active: Our parks are now open…start walking!
Eat Healthy Food: Try to eat foods that fuel the mind and drink plenty of water. Detour away from caffeine, refined carbs, sugars, nicotine, and alcohol.
Get Sunshine! Sunshine has been proven to boost your mood. I’ll admit, that when we lived in Northern PA that I would go to a tanning bed in the middle of the dark winter to improve my mood. It really worked!
Healthy Sleeping Habits: This is where I completely fail! I find that when I am over-tired that any situation seems ten times worse. So get some rest.
Consider Massage or Chiropractor: I love my chiropractor! Stress always seems to find its way to my neck. A good chiropractor visit always helps.
Connect with Someone: Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend and tell them that you are struggling. It’s OK!
Make the Effort: find like minded moms, join a homeschool group or a woman's bible study-just get out there!
Stay Busy: Do something meaningful-try cooking and creating new recipes, start a garden, take a class, pursue your passion!
Wake up early or stay up late....but you can't do both. You can't burn the candle at both ends without feeling the percussions. If you are depressed, exhaustion only leads you into deeper waters.
Give yourself grace! As a recovering perfectionist I understand the feeling of failure and the need for abundant grace. Stop trying to do every subject every day. Quit trying to meet the expectation of your curriculum!
Be honest about who you are and who you wish you were. You have weakness, but you have many strengths. Sarah Mackenzie in her book, Teaching From Rest, encourages us to:
"...base our homeschool on those truths (about ourselves) playing to our strengths and providing for our weakness." (p.57)
Over the years we have faced great trials, disappointments, and struggles. What’s my secret to peace and joy in the middle of a storm? My thought life. I simply do as the scripture commands and think upon good things. At times it is exceedingly difficult. I must guard my heart and my thought life. Prayer is essential.
If you are struggling with our current crisis, feeling “cooped up” and anxious, I encourage you to find a quiet place to pray each day, read scriptures and listen to encouraging and uplifting worship songs.
If you, or someone you know, need emergency help please contact your local crisis center. In our area that is the Bel Air Crisis Center (https://harfordcrisiscenter.org, or go to your nearest Emergency Room or call 911.
If you need someone to pray with you or simply a listening ear, please reach out to Strong Tower Church at 410-836-8388 or your local church.
"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalms 30:5
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