Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

Chemo Eve

Tonight is Chemo Eve.  That is, I start my chemotherapy treatments tomorrow (Wednesday morning).  Chemo Eve isn’t near as cool or exciting as Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.    I don’t even get to dress up like on All Hallow’s Eve (or better known Halloween).  Maybe I should dress up – that might make things more fun.  I’m taking suggestions, but keep in mind I don’t want to be kicked out of the place.   I think.

And that illustrates my emotional state leading into this.  I have actually had a hard time discerning what I am thinking and feeling the past few days.  Other than just feeling weighted down, bearing an awful load.  That’s especially how I felt Monday morning as I was on my way to the office.  Nothing a donut couldn’t fix, but then I actually become the awful load (Full disclosure:  I did eat a donut and it was really yummy).

With some more rumination, I do think I have ferreted out my predominant thought and it follows, in some ways, my previous thoughts about being on a bullet train to an unknown destination.  I am not primarily fearful, though it can’t be said that I am serene.  I am not primarily anxious, though it can’t be said that I am at complete peace.  I am not primarily worried, though it can’t be said that I don’t spend a good bit of times thinking (worrying?) about the list of potential side effects.

Nope, here it is:  I do not like being out of control.  Out of control of my body.  Out of control of my schedule.  Out of control of my future.   Out of control of my days and nights.  Out of control of my plans.  It is this that haunts and hounds me most, especially when I am not busy with work or the kids.

Some months ago, I called my friend and mentor in ministry after hearing about his diagnosis of cancer.  His is terminal.   I recall him telling me that one of the things he was wrestling with, and that we all have to do in some regard, is reconciling himself to the reality that he is not in control and never was.  Or some words to that effect.  I assented to that truth, as I agree and agreed then, in principle.   In principle, it sounds good and right.  And it is.  In practice, well, that’s another thing altogether.  Now, we are “cancer buddies”, as he says.   And the mentoring continues!

So, I wrestle with my dislike of feeling out of control.  Though I know the One who is in control.  Of all things.  Of this.  And so, what is left for me to do?  There is trust and dependence, but I will confess that those don’t come quite as easily as I would like.  What is left for me to do?  I must plunge myself in the waters of Scripture.  Let the words of Romans 8:28-29, 1 Peter 1, Psalm 121, and Psalm 46 wash over me.  I breathe the air of a dependence that is foreign, but ultimately life-giving, as this world is not my home and the air here is a bit polluted.   And while the water flows and I breathe deeply, I am also confronted, confounded and comforted with the reality that the Lord is not just doing this in me, but also through me. 2 Corinthians 4:11-12:  “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”   And, of course, I do none of this one my own.  But with and through the countless prayers of many – known and unknown.

Running Scared (Part 5): God Speaks on People & Their Judgments

Read about what I’m doing here. Part one here.  Part two here.  Part three here and here.  Part four here.

A friend asked me why I choose this book as the summer book of the quarter at Calvary and for “blogging the book” here.  This was my tongue in cheek answer:  Ed Welch saved my life.  Obviously, I do not mean that in a salvific sense, but I am referring more to the way that Welch helped me deal with a very difficult aspect of the way I live and relate to others through his book When People Are Big and God is Small.  You see, I am a recovering people-pleaser and the ministry is not a good place for people-pleasers (in the long run).  The story goes like this:  In the summer of 1998, I am walking though a bookstore with my mentor and he picks up Welch’s book and says – “Adam, you need to read this.”  I do not recall my answer (I probably said sure or I’ll get right on that), but I certainly was not aware of how the fear of man had dominated my life to that point.  That began a journey for me in addressing this issue – one that continues.

In this section, chapters 15-17, Welch deals with the fear of people with the concepts of fear, worry, and anxiety in view.  And so, this section starts with this:

WE SO DESPERATELY need each other’s approval.”

We fear people when they hold onto what it is that we think we need: “love, acceptance, approval.”  In fearing the lack of those things, we end up fearing the people that we want to provide those – even if it is someone we have never met before and never will again.  In this light, we see how this fear turns us away from God and makes people into idols that we bow before and that is the real problem.

The problem comes when we want thest things too much, when we want them for our own glory rather than God’s.  Notice how human desires go topsy-turvy when we stray outside of God’s kingdom.”

So what are the answers, besides trying harder?  Here is Welch is at his best:  drawing back to God, His Word, and His character.  Here were a few of the ways that he encourages us to fight the fear & idolatry of man:

  • Love for others:  “Without adaquate human love, we feel paralyzed to love.  We want to be filled with the love of others before we move out in love towards others…At root, our yearning for love and acceptance from other people (when it is more important that loving and accepting others) is evidence of allegiancees to ourselves.  We prefer to be the king rather than serve the King.”  There’s that concept of allegiances again.  Welch deals with this concept of loving others, even to the point of imbalance, in chapter sixteen.  This concept, as he show us again, cannot be accomplished in our own strength, but we must look to the source and model of all sacrificial love:  Jesus Christ.
  • Fear of God:  This is a huge topic, but there is great help for us in chapter seventeen.  The upshot is that we need a greater fear to move us out of the fear of man and that is the fear of God.  “How can we define it?  The fear of the Lord results from knowing that I always live coram deo – I live before the face of the Holy GodFear still reveals our allegiance, this time in a positive way.  If we have a mature fear of the Lord, it means that we value and revere him above all else.  That’s how we fight fear with fear.”

These make sense to me and I can see in my own life how, when applied, they replace the fear of man.  And in those I find great freedom, but I find that I still long for the bondage of slavery to sin at times and I go back to “tried and true” methods of relating (people-pleasing, fear, conflict avoidance).  And so Welch gives this gem of a thought:  “When in doubt, repent.”  And then there is this question that comes up several times:

Why am I so concerned about me?”

Priceless

  • Insurance Deductible (after minor accident in Jan) = $500
  • Brake Job for family car (Jan) = $300
  • Distributor Cap for my car (Feb) = $900
  • Timing Belt for family car (July) = $600
  • The possibility of having to replace the clutch on family car (now) = $1500 1350
  • Getting to apply the things I’m learning about worry & anxiety from Running Scared as applied to our car repairs = priceless

Running Scared (Part 4): God Speaks on Money & Possessions

Read about what I’m doing here. Part one here.  Part two here.  Part three here and here.

It dawned on me as I read these last three chapters (about mid way through) of this section, “God Speaks on money and possessions”, that we had not talked a whole lot about money and possessions.  At least not specifically.  That does come more fully in chapter fourteen, but I found that this was something that I appreciated because it has meant that Welch has spent more time dealing with the roots of anxiety and worry – rather than simply dealing with symptoms and manifestations.

Continue reading

Running Scared: Part One

Today we begin our journey  of blogging through Edward Welch’s book Running Scared.  Click here if you want to see what this is all about or the schedule for reading/posting on this book.

When I was a small child (somewhere between the ages of three and six), I used to imagine that there was a witch that brewed here mischievous brew between the two windows of my bedroom.  In my imagination, she was there and not to be trifled with.  And so, Welch says:  “Fear is natural to us.  We don’t have to learn it.  We experience fear and anxiety even before there is any logical reason for them.”  Fear does not just follow us, but fear actually multiplies as we grow older.  As we develop more relationships, see more of the fallenness of the world, or accumulate more things we have more to fear, more to worry about.

Continue reading