Monday, January 16, 2012


It’s the feeling when I am completely concentrating on the grocery list and then, in a moment of lucidity, look up to count heads… One, two, three…. Wait, isn’t there supposed to be one more of you? I spin around looking, most likely, for a curly headed train wreck, and then call out – Boogie! Boogie?!?! JILLIAN!?!?!?!? 

The panic that starts small and then grows until it takes on a life of its own when I think about singing in front of a crowd.  Or failing.  Definitely when I think about failing. Or remember a time when I failed.   Or, for other people is can be saying goodbye to that relationship you know isn’t good for you. Or getting a shot. Or flying. Or being in the dark.  

Or, another one of mine, giving your precious child immunizations when you’ve been hearing scary stories about the link between them and autism. I think this last one is an example that falls under the heading: When doing the right thing may be the wrong thing and you’re not educated enough to feel prepared to make such a big decision.

There are other parts of parenting that fall under the same purview: homeschooling vs. public schools vs. private vs. charter vs. online; to spank or not to spank; where is the line between giving your children chores they are required to do simply because they are part of the family and then giving them “extra” chores so I can teach them about handling money.. And when I find these “extra” chores, how much should I pay for them? There are so many parts of parenting that I feel unprepared to handle appropriately.
There’s also cold, dull ache that accompanies the aura before the seizure.  When the pain, the discomfort, the embarrassment and the exhaustion seem unavoidable. When the blame and the guilt become oppressive and I begin to fear that my illness is too big a burden for my family. They didn’t sign up for this. And maybe I’m not worth all the trouble.

Then there are the nerves that seem to creep all along my shoulders, up and down my back and into my head until simply moving is painful. The stress and nerves that come from anything. From everything. And from nothing, all at once.      Neck and shoulders so tight with tension that I can’t turn my head in either direction without pain. And bending over gives me a migraine headache. These aren’t as common anymore thankfully. I believe my prayers for peace and perspective are being answered. I’ve also been employing some of my own advice. I’ve been teaching a young girl about grounding and other techniques to free her from her anxiety attacks. My sessions with her are timely reminders of my own anxiety struggles.

Especially persistent are the twin tinges of sickness that settle in my throat and my stomach when I think about all the potential harm I may be doing to my children. I may not be giving them the right experiences. I might be disciplining them too much. Or not enough. I might be creating an atmosphere of anxiety and fear in their lives. (Anybody else see the disgusting irony in that??!) I might be too strict, or too lenient. I might not be able to give them all they need financially or emotionally or spiritually...
I struggle with anxiety that comes from simple things, from life changing choices, from lost children and from imagined threats and possibilities.

It all boils down to one four letter word. Fear.  Fear of not being enough. Not good enough of a mother, a wife, a woman, a Christian, a counselor, a student, a friend, a great-granddaughter, a daughter, a sister…

I watched Wyatt holding his bottle the other day. He is just starting to master this skill. And I laughed as I watching him try with all his might to shove the bottom of the bottle into his mouth. He has the idea down, but not really the logistics of the thing. So, I reached over to turn it around and as I pulled on the bottle, his little fingers clenched down super tight so that his finger tips turned white and his eyes cut over at me accusingly. He was angry that, from his perspective, I was taking away the very thing he was working so hard to hold onto.

This made me think about all the things I hold so tightly to and how, most of the time, I have them completely backwards, upside down or inside out. Or sometimes all three. And, like Wyatt, I get mad when it seems like God is pulling it away. Most of the time, I don’t even consider that He may be pulling my treasured bottle out of my mouth simply to turn it around so that I can get the nourishment and yumminess that I’d been looking for anyway.

There is a blogger I found recently that I admire and fervently wish I was able to write like she does. Reading her posts has me searching for transcendence and perspective in my life but also has me wishing I was, again, more than I am. There are so many other things I wish I was good at. Or so many things I wish I was.  But I’ll get more into that later.

I wish I was fluent in Spanish, better at cleaning regularly, better at playing with my kids, good enough at writing to be published, an admired – well, an admired anything.  Unfortunately, I believe this desire for admiration is at the heart of the issue. I am seeking worth through the approval of other people and through the experience of being appreciated and recognized. The problems with this plan are that, first of all, people are fickle and its impossible to please everyone and secondly, praise and approval are temporary. They are never permanent and because of their transience, they are never enough.

One of my goals for this year is finding my identity..
Because I’ve struggled with this issue, I always ask the kids if they’re beautiful, if they’re smart, if they’re exactly who God created them to be. It is my prayer that if they get a strong foundation of their worth now, it will be easier for them to navigate through the experiences in life that will seek to show them they are not enough.  Along with teaching them, I am seeking to find for myself an identity that is rock solid, insusceptible to the whims of public opinion.

The Bible says I am God’s beloved child. That is a jacket I don’t really know how to put on. I don’t even really know what it looks like. That is the ultimate irony – I know that my children are God’s beloved, His precious children who He has created in His image. I just can’t believe that I am. This comes from a place of insecurity and extreme arrogance. How can I possibly believe that I am the one, the only one, to have been created unlovable? I’m working to fix this flaw in my thinking and, to this end, I’m clinging to a new song I heard:

“Tell me, once again, who I am to You, who I am to You. Tell me, lest I forget, who I am to You, that I belong to You.”  This has become my prayer. Open my eyes Lord, that I can see myself as You see me. Broken, afraid, insignificant – and enough.

1 comment:

Stony and Brit said...

I will be praying this for you. That you get consistent glimpses of how He sees you. That you know are enough. And that you feel His love for you stronger this year than you ever have before.