Saturday, March 7, 2015

Coping in a fear-driven society

We seem to like to relate to our inner-drama queen when comes to being American.  If our world seems perfect, it's just because disaster is looming.  The disaster can range from everything to 5 extra pounds gained to potentially contracting the flu to more serious threats like will ISIS attack me.. in the comfort of my own home? or should I worry about ebola?

One of my workout friends told me of a problem she was having.  She has a friend who lives in a fear-driven state of mind and tries her best to rev up everyone around her to get excited about her latest "fear" findings.

This is a real problem.  First of all, the media is not helping calm us down.  Oh no.  They operate on rating spikes, and there's nothing quite like the latest epidemic to spur us all on google and other forms of (non-peaceful) solutions.

So, what do I do?  And how do I cope?

Let me just tell you that at one point I was not an excellent product of peaceful trust during imagined trials.

That's right.  You read that correctly.  Fear is just trying to cope with an imagined trial.  When something has "the potential" to be horrible, but it isn't actually horrible or even bad yet, it isn't really a trial.  It's an imagined trial.

And yet, when I looked at my actual track record of how I dealt with "real" trials, I was scoring an A+.  Actually, God was scoring an A+.  I was just riding his success wave and enjoying the peace that comes with it.

And if I were to be really honest an examine this even further, I almost thrived under an actual trial more than I did under a non-trial because at least I knew what danger I was supposed to be dealing with.

So, the times when God had designed for me to rest from actual trials only lasted as long as my brain could come up with a new trial to invent.  And then I rode the wave of fear until it struck again.

This is/ was a pathetic existence to say the least.  No wonder I had depression issues!!  Do you know how exhausting it is to be craving actual trials all the time?

And I can't even blame the media for this craziness.  This was all pre-high speed internet, social networking, and cable.  I was just a bonafide fraidy cat.

Oh, I'm sorry.  We have names for it now.  Anxiety.

Whatever.

It's all a prison.  And I was and am done with it.

Jumping out of the prison.

Quite honestly, depending on how far you are buried with fear, you may or may not need professional help.  I remember a godly woman who was in her 70's at the time, telling me a story of surviving some difficult times on the mission field.  Her brain could not recover from the difficulties that she had experienced and she would frequently wake up from a sleep and find herself trying to escape out a window. She said, "Go to your doctor, and do what he recommends" if something like this happens to you.

If your anxiety levels are completely taking over your life, you too, may benefit from the advice of this old missionary woman.

Aside from that, there are many ways to change your thinking about things in general.  I've watched emotionally healthy people deal with the ins and outs of life, and have learned some things from their examples.

The first thing about changing your mindset about fears is to find something human and funny about the trial itself.  It has occurred to me that fear and laughter can not co-exist, so often times, taking the fear to an extremely funny conclusion is a coping mechanism that often works for me.

My mother lives in a brain that makes things funny naturally.  The older I get, the more I get like my mother.  I think you can see from the various stories I've told you before that funny and fun are a big part of my life.  Perhaps, God used this to help me recover from unreasonable fears?

Let me give you an example.

What if my house burned down? (fear)
Well.. I guess I'd be sitting on a pile of sticks in the middle of a corn field.. (funny image)

What if I fail my college classes? (fear)
I guess I'll go to beauty school, then. (strange image of me in rollers getting my nails done)

What if none of my kids ever get married? (fear)
I guess I'll be surrounded by wealthy single people for children (picture of all of us on a yacht acting like millionaires)

and so on..  You get the picture.  It really isn't an answer to any of the fears, it is a coping mechanism that relates to the fear.  Perhaps you have a funny coping mechanism that works for you? (share in the comments)


Using humor is just one way to deal with fears.  Some people use logic, therapy sessions, journaling, and many other good methods.  But there is one method that solely belongs to people who know God.  It's so simple that it's laughable.  It's called faith in God's Sovereign power method.  (I just made that up.. pretty good, eh?)

Seriously.  This is how it works.

A person said this to me: "Aren't you afraid of your husband traveling all of the time?  Are you worried about Ebola? or ISIS?"

And this is my response: No.  I'm not afraid of my husband traveling.  If I thought he was out of the will of God, I would be concerned.  But I'm not concerned.  When it is his time to depart from this Earth, he will go.  He could be as safe as a baby in his mother's arms on the road.  And when it is his time to go, I have complete confidence that this also will be a God-ordained thing also.  There will be very little I could do on either end to extend his life or to prevent his death.  So, I am trusting in my good and gracious God, and I am at peace..

My dear husband has been to France, Hawaii, Qatar, and Finland already this year.  In two weeks, he leaves for Brazil.  I am not interested in living in a constant state of fear.  I demand that my soul come to a place of peace and rest.  And I give the credit for that peace as well as the ability to get there all to God--a  loving, Sovereign God who has carried me through many things in this short 46 years of living.  All praise and glory goes to Him!

And may God help you deal with your own set of fears!




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